Bears vs. Raiders Preview: Does Defense Still Win Championships?
The old football adage, 'Defense wins Championships,' may still have some life in it, but I feel it needs to be amended for the modern game. These days, with the recent rules changes that have tilted the playing field towards the offense, you need more than a dominating D to take home the Super Bowl. You need to be able to score points. I'd imagine that's always been the case, but in 2019 it's more apparent.
The 2019 version of the Chicago Bears looks to have anther outstanding defense. A defense, mind you, that is showing no signs of regression, but in today's NFL you need balance, and right now the Bears' offense is putrid.
I doubt we'll ever see another stellar defense lead a team to the Super Bowl with a sub-par offense and poor quarterbacking, à la the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and QB Trent Dilfer. That Ravens team had a solid running game to compliment their D, so it's not like the offense was awful. Behind the power running of Jamal Lewis, that Baltimore squad had a 5th ranked rushing game that balanced out their 22nd ranked passing attack. For as reliant as that team was on the D, their offense was middle of the pack in most metrics.
Which leads me back to the 2019 Bears. Their defense is shaping up be be historically nasty, but if the offense can't figure out how to score, they won't win a championship.
With starting quarterback Mitchel Trubisky set to miss the next game against the Oakland Raiders, that leaves eleven-year veteran Chase Daniel to get Matt Nagy's offense back on track. But Chicago's issues on offense go far beyond the quarterback.
After four games Chicago's offense is performing at a John Fox level of putridness. Only two offenses have gained fewer yards than the Bears so far, the tanking Miami Dolphins and the directionless New York Jets. Those aren't exactly the franchises you'd like to be mentioned with, especially since Nagy's offense is in the second year and most pundits expected a jump in production.
But luckily for the Bears, the have another winnable game on the schedule in the Raiders, and their defense is what Chicago's offense needs to find a rhythm. Defensively, the Raiders rank in the bottom half of the league in all categories. The Bears will likely try to control the tempo of the game again by running a lot of no huddle offense with Daniel taking the play clock as low as possible before snapping the ball. But with their offense set and ready to go, they could occasionally mix in some quick hitters to keep Oakland's defense on their toes.
This has to be the week that the Bears can get their 25th ranked running game going, because getting into manageable third down situations will help them work out the kinks in their passing attack. David Montgomery is too talented of a runner to only have a 3.4 yards per carry, but much of his issues have stemmed from the offensive line not getting push up front. Last week coach Nagy challenged his o-line to get better, and they did as pass blockers, so this week they'll need to pick it up in their zone blocking scheme.
On defense, the Bears should be able to have their way with quarterback Derek Carr and the Raider offense. Josh Jacobs is a good rookie running back, but the Bears shut down the league's leading rusher a week ago, so throttling Jacobs should be doable. Oakland has some injuries along their o-line and a banged up receiving corps, so Khalil Mack and company should be able to eat on Sunday in London.