The Chicago Bears will see a downshift from the opposing defense this week –the Las Vegas Raiders don’t blitz nearly as much as the Minnesota Vikings do or did against the Bears, especially. But they won’t so much get a reprieve as they will be able to focus on a singular disruptive presence along the Raiders’ defense.
Their issue is, that presence – EDGE rusher Maxx Crosby – is as tough as they come.
“He’s definitely a very good player,” rookie right tackle Darnell Wright said. “So we just gotta try to match some of the ways he works and how he plays the game.
Darnell Wright: Bears Have to ‘Try to Match’ Raiders’ Maxx Crosby
Bears’ Larry Borom: Raiders’ Maxx Crosby an ‘Impact Player’
“He’s a impact player, somebody you gotta plan for,” left tackle Larry Borom said. “He can wreck your whole ball game. So we just gotta … make sure we’re fundamentally sound and get after him.”
Bears head coach Matt Eberflus even admitted that facing Crosby is going to be a test for his offensive line and rookie undrafted free agent quarterback Tyson Bagent who is set to make his first career start in place of the injured Justin Fields.
“The big one this one is Max,” Eberflus said. “He’s the big guy that, obviously ,has a lot of havoc to the offense. And he’s a All-Pro Player and continues to play that way. That’s the big thing, right? So we got to have a plan for him. Their pressure package is good too. But you got to have a plan. We got to do a good job executing that plan, not only during the week, but also tactically during the game. That’s an important part of having tactics. So it’s important we do that.”
MAXX CROSBY SAFETY 🙏
— NFL (@NFL) October 15, 2023
“They’re a nickel pressure-heavy team,” Teven Jenkins said of the challenge of facing Crosby after Wednesday’s practice. “Just being able to know where he’s at in the formation … and just being able to anticipate where and when a [end-tackle or tackle-end stunt] is gonna come – and even a backer blitz. They’re going to be a very physical team.”
The Raiders only send blitzes 26.4% of the time, per Pro Football Reference. Contrast that with the Viknigs’ 57.9% rate and the fact there is just a 2.7% difference in hurry rate stands out. Minnesota does have five more sacks and 19 more pressures (including a 6.2% gap in pressure rate) than Las Vegas.
Still, Crosby’s 5.5 sacks would lead the Bears who have nine sacks total as a team.
Watch Bears’ Right Side vs Raiders
Bagent and Wright aren’t the only young players that needs to be prepared. Wright will likely be lining up next to second-year right guard Ja’Tyre Carter who is expected to fill in for starter Nate Davis as he recovers from a high ankle sprain. Wright said that they worked on the different combinations enough in camp that his and Carter’s collective inexperience shouldn’t hinder them.
Maxx Crosby is living in the backfield tonight. 🦅 @CrosbyMaxx
— NFL (@NFL) October 10, 2023
Carter said that communication will be key between him and Wright.
“Vikings, they did a lot of different pressures,” Carter said. “The Raiders, not so much. They like sending four or five guys. Max Crosby, he’s a great player. [But] they got other dudes on their team. No. 69 [defensive tackle Adam Butler], he’s a very good team player. He tries to hold you and all the stuff on the twists so they could open up the other guys.”
Bears’ Lucas Patrick: Facing Max Crosby, Raiders ‘Exciting’
The Bears signed Lucas Patrick to be their starting center ahead of last season. This past offseason’s reshuffling of the line relegated him to backup status. But he could be in line to start this weekend after starter Cody Whitehair struggled with snapping the ball, an issue that Eberflus said has popped up in practice.
That just adds another layer of complexity for a Bears team still trying to match their win total from last season at this point.
And they have to do it with one of the game’s most disruptive players on the other side.
“That’s the NFL,” Patrick said. “There’s gonna be a different challenge every week. That’s what makes it exciting as a player. It’s a different challenge to challenge your different skill sets, different intellectual processes. So it’s kind of exciting, in my opinion.”