Oakland Raiders: Keys to Victory over the Chicago Bears

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Sep 27, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) hits Chicago Bears quarterback Jimmy Clausen (8) after a pass during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Get Pressure on the Quarterback Off the Edge

According to ESPN staff writer Jeff Dickerson, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been splitting first-team reps with backup Jimmy Clausen throughout the week, as Cutler is currently listed as questionable (hamstring) for Sunday’s game. Denver head coach John Fox will  reportedly determine Cutler’s status after a final walkthrough practice held on Saturday.

Although his status on paper appears to be 50/50, Cutler did place doubts in a lot of people’s minds with a statement he had said earlier this week.

“If you do come back on a hamstring earlier than you want to, it’s definitely going to be in the back of your mind because there’s that slight pull,” Cutler said, via Patrick Finley of Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s an instinctual game out there. You’re doing things on the run without thinking. To have to worry about a hamstring and moving around is something that can weigh on you.”

While there is still a chance that Cutler gets the start, the Raiders’ defense will likely be seeing Clausen under center come Sunday.

Though the level of talent between the two Bears quarterbacks is substantial, Clausen is still a relatively capable quarterback when he is given a clean pocket and some weapons on the outside, but unfortunately this won’t be the case.

Bears Pro-Bowl wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is officially listed as questionable (hamstring) for the Week 4 matchup, but he reportedly is expected to miss Sunday’s game, via Dickerson of ESPN.com. On top of that, starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod has been officially ruled out for the game due to a concussion.shoulder injury, thus pushing 2014 seventh-round pick Charles Leno into the starting lineup to help protect Clausen’s blind side.

With that being said, Oakland should only have an easier time getting to the quarterback, but this still doesn’t lessen it’s importance.

Clausen has struggled throwing the ball under pressure in his limited time as the starter in Chicago, as he completed just nine of his 17 throws for a mere 63 yards in their Week 3 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. When given the appropriate amount of time Clausen can complete passes down the field, as he did to tight end Zach Miller early in the third quarter for a 21-yard gain, therefore still making it important for Oakland to find ways to successfully attack the quarterback.

Fortunately for Oakland, their defense is coming off a five-sack performance in Cleveland against a relatively strong offensive line with Joe Staley, Joel Bitonio, and Alex Mack.

Having run a lot of their defensive snaps from within a 3-4 scheme, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. is allowing Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith to consistently come off the edge, while also allowing several other talented pass-rushers to get into the rotation.

I expect Oakland to have a great deal of success coming off the edge within their 3-4 defensive scheme, as Mack and company match up well against the Bears banged up offensive line. As a result, Clausen should struggle to string together productive drives due to a lack of rhythm in the offense.

Next: Keys to the Game: Contain Matt Forte