The Oakland Raiders will be facing an inexperienced quarterback for the second week in a row. Last week it was Minnesota's Christian Ponder. This week they get Caleb Hanie. The Chicago Bears' new starting quarterback will be making his first NFL start and has just 14 regular season passes under his belt.
Oakland's defense will most likely stack the box and force Hanie to beat them through the air, much as they did against the Vikings. If the Bears are forced to sling it for much of Sunday's contest, Hanie and the receivers will need to make plays and keep the chains moving.
"They have a very talented offense," said Raiders coach Hue Jackson. "I don't think the offense is just built on Jay Cutler. Obviously, he's one of the stars there. But I think they have a lot of really good players on their offensive football team."
RB Matt Forte
Rob Grabowski/US Presswire
"I think [Chicago's offensive line is] doing a good job in terms of [blocking] for their back and getting him out in space and making some plays," said Raiders DE Richard Seymour. "They do a lot of different things in terms of trying to get Forte the ball in terms of screens, you know, a lot of different looks. They run a lot of different plays, a lot of misdirection, so as a defensive lineman, it's tough to really get a bead on what they're doing. They try to keep you off balance, and that's what good offenses do."
Chicago would like to run the ball 20-30 times on Sunday, thus taking a lot of pressure off Hanie. Oakland is 25th in the league against the rush, so there should be opportunities for big gains on the ground.
"Anytime we go out there and do our jobs, we win football games," C Roberto Garza said. "We have to run the football and we have to protect the quarterback; that's what it comes down to, and that's what we have to do."
We take a look at the game film from the Raiders/Vikings matchup this past Sunday to figure out how Oakland is likely to attack Chicago's offense, and what Hanie the Bears can do about it.
-RB Adrian Peterson played for just the first series in that game before twisting his ankle. Yet on each and every running down with Peterson on the field, Oakland put at least eight players in the box. That will not change against the Bears.
-On roughly 65 percent of their defensive snaps, the Raiders brought five or more players on the rush. The four defensive linemen were often supported by OLB Kamerion Wimbley off the edge. He's a speed rusher that goes full bore into the backfield nearly ever snap and leads the team in sacks (6.0). The other two linebackers, Aaron Curry and Roland McClain, due not blitz very often and have just 1.0 sack between the two of them.
-The Raiders love to bring SS Tyvon Branch on the blitz. He's used in much the same fashion as D.J. Moore for the Bears. Their coaches also aren't afraid to send FS Michael Huff into the backfield as an extra rusher.
-Oakland's linebackers struggle against the run. Wimbley too often runs himself out of the play, while Curry and McClain have a very hard time disengaging blockers. Yet they are most vulnerable against play action. All three linebackers are extremely aggressive against the run, which can often lead to bad angles and open gaps. It also means they bite hard on play fakes. On run downs, the first sign of a handoff has each of the Raiders' linebackers flying up toward the line.
-Oakland likes to use extra safeties, and not cornerbacks, in most nickel and dime packages. On passing downs, you might see four safeties on the field at the same time.
Bears can counter by …
LB Kamerion Wimbley
... exploiting Wimbley and Oakland's aggressive pass rush. The Raiders have accumulated 11 sacks the past two weeks and will be looking for more this Sunday. On pass downs, the Oakland rushers pin their ears back and try to work up field, especially Wimbley. The Bears would be wise to run a number of screens and draws to take advantage of the over-aggressiveness of the Raiders' defensive front. Last week, one of the Vikings' passing touchdowns came on a 26-yard screen pass. There will be similar opportunities this weekend for Chicago.
... going after the safeties. Oakland's safeties are not that great in man coverage. On nearly every blitz last week, the Raiders manned up in the secondary. Chicago's wide receivers must be able to win these matchups, and win them quickly. The goal should be to create enough separation for Hanie to have an open target after just a three-step drop. Chicago's receivers, specifically Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett, need to use their quickness and speed to get off the lane and into their routes immediately.
... using play action, play action and more play action. The Raiders linebackers will bite on every play fake, which will open up space in the middle of the field. Additionally, Branch loves to support the run, so he can be exploited as well. The Raiders are going to be looking to stop Forte first and foremost. Coordinator Mike Martz must be ready to take advantage.
... allowing Hanie to run. Oakland's secondary will use Cover 1 on most blitzes. This means the defenders will have to turn and run with the receivers, turning their backs to the play. Hanie has good wheels. Ponder rushed for more than 70 yards last Sunday, including a number of big first down scrambles. Hanie needs to do the same. When Oakland brings the blitz and Hanie has a seam, he should tuck it away and run.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.