There has been a lot of focus on the Chicago Bears’ ability to block the Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive line and, specifically, Maxx Crosby.
And rightfully so.
But he is far from the only threat. And not just on the defense, either. But on a roster that, for all the consternation around them, has won two more games than the Bears this season. One of those weapons could even stake a claim as “part owner” of the Chicago franchise.
Raiders wideout Davante Adams made a stink about not getting the ball enough this season. Adams has 39 receptions on 59 targets 471 yards and three touchdowns through six weeks. He is on pace for his fewest receiving yards since 2019 and his fewest receptions since 2015. Adams did not play an entire slate of games in either of those previous seasons.
Bears CBs vs. Raiders WR Davante Adams Leads 4 Things to Watch
1) Tyrique Stevenson Ready for Anything, Expects Plenty Davante Adams
“We don’t know what the gameplan is. They could come in here and run anything,” rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson said after Friday’s practice. “I just heard about the little thing he had going on last week. Definitely think they’re gonna try to get the ball to him. But we gotta come in, play our gameplan, and execute the best way we can.”
Adams spent eight seasons with the Bears’ most-hated rival, the Green Bay Packers. Most of those were as former Packers quarterback – and previous self-proclaimed Bears “owner “ – Aaron Rodgers’ top target.
He ranks 10th all-time in receiving yards against the Bears (1,024) on the sixth-most receptions against them (81) as well, per Statmuse.
— NFL (@NFL) June 28, 2023
“I would say anytime Davante is on the field we expect a heavy dose of him,” Matt Eberflus said.
“He’s really one of those top receivers in the in the NFL, and he’s been that. And he’s a great athlete, great competitor. He’s a great technician. He’s got really good ability to make guys miss off the line, to get up and down the field, and he’s got really good start and stop for his size. Great hand strength, ability to stay open.
Adams had 10 grabs, 121 yards, and two touchdowns in their last meeting in 2021. And only two other players – Randy Moss and Sterling Sharpe – surpassed the 1,000-yard mark against them in fewer games.
“He’s a guy that you have to work on during the week and deal with during the game,” said Eberflus.
Adding to matters, the Raiders are starting Brian Hoyer at quarterback in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Hoyer has a 16-24 record as a starter in his career, including 1-4 with the Bears in 2016. But he has thrown 53 touchdowns to 35 interceptions and has shown a willingness to feed his top target.
2) Tyson Bagent vs Raiders’ Gameplan
Hoyer won’t be the only backup quarterback stepping in to start in this contest. Bears undrafted free agent rookie Tyson Bagent will log his first start as Justin Fields (dislocated thumb) continues to work his way back.
Bagent stepped in in relief in Week 6 and had some solid moments in between a pair of turnovers that proved insurmountable.
He finished with 83 yards on 10-of-14 passing with one rushing touchdown, one interception, and one fumble which was returned for a touchdown. Bagent also acquitted himself well to the Minnesota Vikings’ blitz scheme. But this week he will face a defense headlined by EDGE rusher Maxx Crosby.
Maxx Crosby is fired up. Brian Hoyer is fired up. Josh McDaniels is fired up. Raiders fans everywhere are fired up.
— NFL (@NFL) October 15, 2023
Teammates like tight end Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney have done nothing but talk up Bagent since his arrival in the spring. But this is an admittedly big leap for the former Division III Shepherd University quarterback.
If he is going to avoid being Crosby’s next victim, he will need some help from his offensive line.
The group is right back to being a patchwork with starting right guard Nate Davis sidelined with an ankle injury and starting center Cody Whitehair possibly benched after several erratic snaps in Week 5. Starting left tackle Braxton Jones is also still on injured reserve leaving swing tackle Larry Borom in his place.
3) The Other Raiders Can Make Plays Too
For all of the attention paid to Crosby, the Raiders defense has playmakers at all three levels including at linebacker where Divine Deablo and Robert Spillane recorded seven tackles apiece in Week 5.
“They’re rangy guys, physical dudes,” Kmet said. “But I think it’s a good matchup for us. And definitely see some things that we can take advantage of in the run game, in the passing game as well. So, it’ll be a good challenge for us. It’s a good group of front-7, between the D-line and linebackers. Good opportunity for us on Sunday.”
Right guard Ja’Tyre Carter – who is set to fill in for Davis yet again – noted that defensive tackle Adam Butler was another player along the defensive line to keep an eye on, to Kmet’s point.
And, in the secondary, there aren’t many big names outside of veteran Marcus Peters whose gambling can lead to big plays for his team or the opponents. But players like safety Tre’Von Moerhig can still make impact plays.
Into the hands of Tre'von Moehrig 👀
— NFL (@NFL) October 15, 2023
He has two interceptions and one sack in the last three weeks.
“Physical dude. You can see, definitely on third down, third-and-short, a lot of man-match coverage,” Kmet said about Moehrig, a former second-round pick by the Raiders in 2021. “So, yeah, just gotta be physical in my route, kind of meet physical with physical. Should be a fun challenge this weekend.”
4) Less Pressure on the Offene Doesn’t Mean Less Pressure on the Bears
Running back D’Onta Foreman expressed similar confidence, adding that he expects “not as much pressure” in terms of blitzing from Las Vegas as they saw from Minnesota.
“Max Crosby’s a dog. So we gotta try to slow him down,” Foreman said. “Crosby, he stands out a little bit more than the rest of those guys. But they definitely got a good group. The other d-end, the rookie (Tyree Wilson Jr.), really good. And then their interior linemen, they get off the ball as well too. … They got a really solid group but I think we’ll be alright.”
That confidence is key.
The scrutiny will turn up after this week regardless of the outcome. If the Bears win, the questions will undoubtedly begin swirling about Bagent retaining the starting job even when Justin Fields returns.
Should they lose, then the noise about further changes – potentially to the coaching staff and even the front office – will grow louder.
For what it’s worth, Eberflus said that they are “not on that path” when asked about injured reserve or surgery for Fields. He instead has continually insisted that it all comes down to grip strength adding that Fields is “not there yet” to begin throwing a football.