Football

Hello! This is something I did at FanSided last year. But Fansided is dumb and evil, so I’m bringing it to you, the people. It’s not mean to be serious, because you shouldn’t take the NFL and the Bears seriously.

You Can Only Get Away With A Backup Defensive Line For So Long

For one week, the Bears rolled in backups, beer vendors, and a couple janitors into the rotation against the Vikings and they were all getting to pose behind the line after making a play. They didn’t need Akiem Hicks or Bilal Nichols that week, and you wondered if they were just unearthing people like Sarumon and the Urukai. But there’s a reason Hicks is an All-Pro level player, and you’re supposed to struggle to replace him. Trying to do it for a second straight week showed that.

Without Hicks, the Raiders seemed to figure out they could throw multiple people at Khalil Mack and Eddie Goldman, and no one else was going to be able to make them stop. And that’s how it proved. We’re doing the Leonard Floyd early-season thing, where we wonder why he isn’t running wild when only facing one guy. Backups proved to be backups. It’s football, injuries happen, and they determine a lot of what will happen in January. It went well for the Bears last year, which is why it still feels like such a missed opportunity.

If Hicks’s elbow suddenly putting up a carnival tent inside his skin keeps him out long-term, it’s a huge problem. Especially for however long Nichols is out along with it. Once you get your backups on film, you give everyone a chance to see what they can and can’t do. The Raiders and Jon Gruden pretty quickly figured out what they couldn’t. At least the Bears will know what’s coming.

You Can Only Get Away With Your Backup QB For So Long

It shouldn’t have been a surprise, because we did this last year. Chase Daniel gets you out of the Thanksgiving game, as backup QBs are kind of designed to do. Get you out of a game. One. Two is pushing it. So the next week, Daniel made enough plays to keep the Bears in it against the Giants when the defense took the week off, but he also made enough plays to get you beat. He got you out of the Vikings game. Here comes a second straight game with him behind center, and boy didn’t it look the same? Enough plays to give you the lead, enough plays that put you in that hole to begin with and then lost you the game. That’s kind of what a non-starting QB in the NFL looks like. There’s a reason every rule is meant to protect starting quarterbacks. Your season is fucked if they get hurt.

There were two sacks at least that were from Daniel holding the ball too long, possibly because he’s not much taller than a fire hydrant. In more Rex Grossman comparisons, he has a nasty habit of running straight backwards when under pressure instead of stepping up, possibly because stepping up into the pocket would cut off his vision even more. He should have had three INTs, got bailed out by a roughing-the-passer call for one (and game-changing penalties appear to just be things that are going to happen every week). The other two were bad.

He didn’t get much help. It went a touch overlooked in the buildup to the season, but the Bears couldn’t really run the ball last year. We pinned it on Jordan Howard or Matt Nagy’s over-creative nature, but there weren’t many places for Howard to run. We wanted to think the more explosive and elusive David Montgomery and another year of Nagy’s schemes would get around it. Yeah, well, Kyle Long is made of more spare parts than the car they give Matt Damon at the end of “Good Will Hunting.” Charles Leno was doing his own version of Hamilton out there, and has been. Again, switching Whitehair and James Daniels…was that really so clean?

The difference in football is that you can’t solve it from outside the organization. In the other three sports, if your right fielder can’t hit or your second-line left-winger gets hurt or you need a new small forward, there’s a trade deadline for that. Football doesn’t work that way. How do you solve this internally though?

Everyone Is An Expert On Jet Lag Now

This was an argument making the rounds right around the second quarter, and it was the Bears decision to fly out to London on Thursday evening, arriving Friday morning. What it ignored was that the last time the Bears had to do this, they thwacked the Buccaneers after flying out on Thursday. Most teams fly out on the Thursday. They get a plane you and I will never see. They have experts on this we don’t. They weren’t attempting to sleep in a coach seat next to the smelly guy while sitting up. It’s fine. Whatever. They lost because they got their ass whipped, not because they were groggy. Shut up.

Football

I know you’ve seen the stat. It’s pretty damning.

Since the start of the 2018 season, it’s as follows:

Yikes.

So Khalil Mack, on his own, has matched production of the Oakland Raiders since they made the decision to not pay him. The team a whole hasn’t fared much better, notching a 6-14 record since the deal, acquiring more future draft picks than wins. Oh, and there was the whole sideshow event this Summer with Antonio Brown, another star that Jon Gruden deemed worthy of the massive contract, only to have him throw himself out of town with tantrums before he played a snap in the Black and Silver.

Curious, that choice. To NOT give the requisite guaranteed money to a star pass rusher in his prime and then turn around and trade for an end-of-his-prime, if not twilight of his career, Wide Receiver with a history of on/off the field issues is pretty odd. But it’s not that odd when you consider Gruden, and his old school machismo persona. He took over a team he previously had coached for, but this time he had all the power he’d lusted for. He saw a 12-4 team, a playoff team, from 2016 go down it’s leg in 2017 and fall to 6-10. And then he saw the team’s best player talking about wanting the biggest contract for the position ever. All this added up to Gruden being able to show everyone in the organization who held the power. That, FRENTS, is a special kind of dick-swinging.

So what’s the matchup here? did I bury the lede?

This is the REVENGE game. The VINDICTIVENESS game. The THIS COULD BE US BUT YOU PLAYIN’ game.

Khalil Mack vs the entire soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders. Let’s see what some of the beat have been saying this week…

So Mack is good. Okay. What else…

Oh. So the guy they drafted to take over the pass rush for Mack won’t be able to play, or arguably their best WR…

Narrator: They did not, in fact, get five downs.

At least the Raider OLine is sorta prepared?

Oh.

 

If you pray, pray for the Derek Carr and the Raiders on Sunday.

photo credit up top to Kevin Fishbain
Football

Maybe I and many others are just biased because of how annoying he was on Monday Night Football on ESPN for so long. We can be a vindictive lot. Still, there really is only one organization that Jon Gruden could have gotten another job for, and that’s one as equally fraudulent as he is. Step up and be counted, Oakland/Vegas Raiders. It truly is a match made in heaven. But then, no one likes cashing in on nostalgia quite like the Raiders, who haven’t won a playoff game in 16 years.

It was that long ago when Gruden made a name for himself, mostly because he scowled on the sidelines, which he most certainly didn’t practice in a mirror in his office every day, that football commentators mistook for CARING SO DAMN MUCH. Sure, he got a label as a quarterback whisperer as he guided Rich Gannon to a 1st-team All-Pro season, which is a harrowing sentence to write. Somehow people forgot that Raiders team then completely screamed at its shoes in AFC Championship game at home to a Ravens team that didn’t have an offense.

Yeah, Gruden’s Raiders got screwed in the tuck-rule game the following season. It certainly broke the whole organization.

Oh right, Gruden won a Super Bowl. When he was hand-delivered to an already-made team with a Hall of Famer at every level on defense. Somehow, Al Davis’s kid didn’t seem to notice that the Buccaneers never won a playoff game with Gruden after that. And here are the QBs he “whispered” to “greatness”: Brad Johnson’s decline, Brian Griese, Chris Simms (whom he had to have, remember), Bruce Gradkowski, and Jeff Garcia. Real murderer’s row there.

But none of this matters to Mark Davis. All that matters is sizzle, even if it’s own feet into the pavement outside the Vegas Strip where his palace to excess and stupidity grows daily. He desperately wanted to move to LA to be a name. That didn’t work. So now it’ll be Vegas, where a lawsuit from a cocktail waitress at The Palms almost certainly awaits.

And that’s really all the Raiders have been, trading on a name made long ago that barely anyone can remember. Even the dude with skulls on his shoulder pads (who’s a grandfather now) is losing feeling in his limbs. They’re not rebelling against anything anymore, other than competence and success. They don’t stand apart from any other team. They don’t even pick fights with the NFL, as that seems to be the Patriots job, and they also win all the time. It must burn that the Pats stole the Raiders’ rep and they didn’t even bother to notice.

So here are the Raiders, squeaking along in a stadium no one wants them and they don’t want to be at with Gruden claiming he’s going to turn Derek Carr into something other than a background-filler. All he had to do was clear out perhaps the most gifted defensive player in the game, much to our delight. And it’ll be Khalil Mack who calmly lays the head of Carr at Gruden’s feet this Sunday to make his point.

But hey, Davis got his headlines, or headline. Gruden got to cash in and show everyone how smart he thinks he is while posturing for sideline cameras. In that sense, everyone wins. Except the Raiders very often.

 

Football

When the Bears face the Raiders this Sunday from Tootenham Hotspur Stadium in London, UK, Derek Carr will be under center for the Raiders. This can be considered a good thing for the Bears as Carr has struggled to recapture the success he had in his Pro Bowl seasons from 2015-2017. Now, much of the decline in productivity can be blamed on the organization he plays for as well as his supporting cast. Which are both a bag of dicks. But throwing for 19 TDs in 16 starts last season is indefensible and general really piss poor.

Through four games this year, Derek Carr has put up numbers that are very much consistent with his career stats:

2019:

  • 72.1 Completion %
  • 222 Passing Yards Per Game
  • 6 TDs
  • 3 INTs
  • 96.7 Passer Rating

Career (82 Games)

  • 63.2 Completion %
  • 234 Passing Yards Per Game
  • 128 TDs
  • 57 INTs
  • 89.2 Passer Rating

What really stands out is Carr’s 72.1% Completion Percentage this season, good for 9th best league-wide and higher than some rando’s named: Mahomes, Watson, Phillip Rivers and Ryan.

Last week against the Colts, Carr threw 31 passes. Unbelievably, only four of the 31 attempts went to the right side of the field:

I have never seen a throw chart even come close to looking like this; and to make this whole thing even more confusing, two of four right side attempts went for touchdowns. What in the fuck were Derek Carr and Jon Gruden doing last week?

Now let’s take this whole thing another odd step forward and show you that, last season, Carr was decidedly better on throws to the right side of the field:

Looking at this chart, Bears safeties should and will be cheating towards the middle of the field and right side all game as Carr is clearly garbage throwing to the left side on anything past 10 yards.

With Amari Cooper Gone, Who Can Catch The Rock?

Derek Carr and the Raiders offense relies heavily on the tight end position in the passing game. Darren Waller has been an absolute beast so far this season, and although he has yet to catch a TD pass, he leads the league in receptions, is 3rd in yards, and 2nd in passes caught for a 1st down. If Carr can get Waller matched up against a Bears linebacker from time to time, he may be able to have a big day in London.

Carr’s other option in the passing game is 5th year veteran Tyrell Williams, who has scored a touchdown in every game this season.  Williams is averaging almost 13 yards per catch with a long of 43 yards. If any of the Raiders pass catchers are going to break a long one, look for it to be Williams.

Don’t expect a lot of catches out of the Raiders backfield. Although Josh Jacobs gets a lion’s share of the carries, he has 3 receptions on the year. Jalen Richard has become more of the 3rd down pass catching threat, and has accumulated 6 catches so far, leading all Raiders running backs.

So What Does All This Mean?

Ultimately, the Bears defense and not Derek Carr is going to be the deciding factor as to whether Carr has a big game. I expect Darren Waller to be heavily involved on quick strike passing game as Jon Gruden will not allow Khalil Mack to become an even bigger story. Game tape from the last four weeks will clearly show that you cannot and will not beat the Bears if your QB is taking 5&7 step drops and trying to sit in the pocket and attack with long balls down the field.