Dhruv Koul scouts the Chicago Bears’ Week 2 opponent, the Denver Broncos, through the Broncos-Raiders Week 1 matchup at the Oakland Coliseum. Follow him on Twitter @DhruvKoul to continue the conversation.
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Chicago Bears lost an infuriating game at home to the Green Bay Packers last Thursday night to kick off the 2019 NFL season. While the defense lived up to the hype by limiting Aaron Rodgers & Co. to 10 points, the offense as a whole couldn’t get anything, literally anything, going in an awful 10-3 loss. Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky and the entire offense, save for Allen Robinson and David Montgomery, were putrid.
In Week 2, the Bears are headed to Denver to take on the Vic Fangio-led Broncos. This is a de facto must-win game for the Bears, who want to avoid the famed 0-2 death sentence. Nagy, Trubisky and the offense will need a much better showing on the road, in the famed altitude, against Denver’s vaunted defense. I wish them the very best of luck.
The Broncos took on the Oakland Raiders tonight at The Oakland Coliseum, so I wanted to scout the game and watch Fangio’s group’s first action together and what it might mean for the Bears next week.
I shared my in-game reactions, thoughts and observations on the game and what it means for the Bears below. Follow me on Twitter @DhruvKoul to continue the conversation!
Thoughts and Observations
1. I have to say, even as a non-Raiders’ fan, there’s something melancholic about the Black Hole, as Oakland Coliseum is lovingly called. I got a chance to visit it during the offseason during some down time on a work trip to the Bay Area. It’s a cool area and atmosphere. I feel bad for Raiders’ fans in Oakland, who’ll watch their favorite franchise move to Las Vegas next year. The Bears play the Raiders on the road this year, but their game is a London showcase.
2. Oakland took the opening drive of the game down the field for a touchdown. Derek Carr went 5/5 for 58 yards and a touchdown, and Josh Jacobs, a Raiders’ first round pick RB, carried the ball five times for 19 yards. A pretty surgical (scripted) drive for the Raiders. The big play was a 25 yard pass from Carr to Darren Waller against CB Isaac Yiadom, filling in for the injured former Bear, CB Bryce Callahan. If Callahan is injured next week too, the Bears may have an advantageous matchup against Yiadom. That’s something to watch for the rest of this game.
3. The Raiders’ defense did a good job getting plenty of pressure on Denver’s offensive line and blowing up plays. TE Noah Fant took the first offensive play for a five yard loss. Quick three-and-out.
4. Ja’Wuan James, the Broncos’ starting RT, just left the game with a knee injury. His replacement, Elijah Wilkerson, promptly gave up a sack. If James is still out next week…
5. The Raiders’ OL has been pretty strong in pass protection so far; against a defensive front that includes Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Derek Wolfe. That’s allowed Carr ample time to survey the field and find receivers down field. Let’s see if it continues. If the Bears can solve their communication issues on the OL, they may be able to afford Mitch Trubisky more time than initially thought next week. Of course, it has to matter — Trubisky still needs to actually survey the field consistently and make good decisions/throws.
6. While the Raiders haven’t been particularly effective running the ball, they’ve been committed to it. That’s opened things up for Carr and the offense. Couple that with what Matt Nagy said today in his press conference, and you can expect PLENTY of David Montgomery / Mike Davis / Tarik Cohen on Sunday.
7. Joe Flacco is struggling against the Raiders. His passes are getting batted down, he’s inaccurate, and he’s slow. The offense, for all its playmakers (Courtland Sutton, Emmanuel Sanders, Noah Fant, Philip Lindsay), they haven’t done much. The Bears should be wary of the playmakers next week, but probably not Flacco.
8. I can make jokes…
9. Ja’Wuan James is officially out for the rest of the game. Something major to monitor for next week, as mentioned above. With a short week to prepare for the Bears, James may end up missing the Bears’ game.
10. Scary scene in Oakland, as Raiders’ DB Gareon Conley needed a cart to exit the field. His helmet got slammed by his teammate’s leg while they chased Broncos’ RB Royce Freeman. It seemed to be a neck related issue. He didn’t move for several minutes. Hoping for a quick recovery; but if it’s as bad as it looked, he will miss the Bears’ game in London.
11. Wow, Broncos’ WR DaeSean Hamilton dropped an easy touchdown from Joe Flacco on a critical third down, leading to another FG by Brandon McManus. It couldn’t have been much more open or perfect; a straight drop. Instead of 14-10, it’s 14-6 Raiders.
12. Fangio has dropped Von Miller and Bradley Chubb into coverage a decent amount in this game, something he used to do with Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd often in Chicago. Expect Fangio to try to confuse Trubisky with similar stunts and drops next week. Though, why not have the league’s best pass rusher, well, rush the passer?
13. That leads to this…
14. Vic Fangio opted to kick a field goal with the Broncos down 21-6 with 8.5 minutes left in fourth quarter with the Broncos just outside the red zone. That made it 21-9. With the trouble the Broncos have had stopping the Raiders’ offense tonight, it’s hard not to make note of Fangio’s conservatism. This may loom large next week.
15. Flacco really is the weak link in this Broncos’ offense. A telegraphed pass that was almost intercepted went for a big gain, thanks to Emmanuel Sanders. His playmakers did the work on that drive to pull Denver within a score.
16. First down, Raiders. Great job by Oakland offense. The Black Hole is loud as hell. That was fun.
17. Chicago takes on the Broncos at Mile High on Sunday afternoon. The Bears have an extra few days of rest and preparation on the Broncos, but Fangio’s team will have the upper hand in terms of being at home and the altitude. I sincerely believe this:
But the offense has to do its part. That’s the biggest x-factor at the moment. Can they? I hope so. Involving the running game heavily to make life easier on Trubisky and the defense resting up will be key. Let’s hope Matt Nagy commits to it. I predicted an easy Broncos’ win immediately after the Thursday night loss (may have been a tad emotional). I still have a lingering feeling, right now, that the Broncos will win; so naturally, expect the Bears to win a close one on the road.
Early Prediction, Part II: Bears 19, Broncos 17.