PAWS Week 5: No. 4 leads Bears into London

PAWS Week 5: No. 4 leads Bears into London

In numerology, No. 4 represents conscientiousness plus responsibility, and those infused with its energy possess a keen sense of focus. Well, this weekend in London, both teams’ quarterbacks wear the No. 4 jersey and will have to raise their “focus” in order to win on Sunday. The Raiders’ No. 4, Derek Carr, will most definitely have to concentrate on a Bears’ defense that allows only 11.2 points per contest. While Chicago’s No. 4, Chase Daniel, must raise his level of awareness against an Oakland defense that’s had an entire week to prepare for his skillset.

Each team’s No. 4 at quarterback faces scrutiny that might be best bridged in London by using P.A.W.S. (Predictive Analysis With Stats) to alleviate their concerns.

Derek Carr was selected in the second round (36th overall) of the 2014 NFL draft by the Raiders, and during his six seasons has become their all-time leading passer (19,627 yards). Paid like a franchise quarterback, Carr and the Raiders have only had one winning campaign and one playoff appearance during his tenure.

Oakland’s lack of success doesn’t lie solely at Carr’s feet, because the absence of continuity is reflective in the number of coaches (four) he’s had since being drafted. Carr is currently on his fourth head coach (Jon Gruden) and the team is showing some progress with a 2-2 record.

As a starting NFL quarterback, Carr has proven to be an above-average talent with solid numbers to complement his abilities and accomplishments. In 82 games played he’s completed 63.2 percent of his passes, thrown 128 touchdowns to 57 interceptions, and captained 16 game-winning drives. Ranking 11th in the league in “money throws” – passes requiring exceptional skill and execution of critical throws in clutch moments – Carr has also completed 78.6 percent of his attempts in the red zone for a total of six touchdown tosses.

Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams has caught four touchdown passes from Carr, and as a team Oakland ranks fourth in the NFL with a low rate of incompletions per game (nine).

Despite a modicum of improvements on offense, the defensive side of the ball is surrendering an average 25.2 points per game. Such a lackluster unit places increased pressure on Carr and the Raiders’ offense, as they square off against Chicago’s No. 2 ranked defense. Leading the 2019 version of the Monsters of the Midway is former Raiders’ first-round selection Khalil Mack, with his four quarterback hits and 4.5 sacks.

The Bears as a team average 4.2 sacks per contest and are fourth in the league in sack percentage at 9.66. Last season, the Raiders were the fourth-most sacked team in the league, so facing a ferocious pass rush like Chicago’s can be disconcerting, to say the least.

Besides generating pressure on passers, Chicago is also adept at forcing turnovers on an elite level. Mack is tied for first in the NFL in forced fumbles with four, while defensive backs Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Kyle Fuller have a total of four interceptions this season. Conversely, the Raiders are fourth-worst at creating takeaways with a paltry 0.8 forced turnovers per game. Oakland’s lack of identity on defense is something Daniel must readily identify and exploit in order to secure a victory this Sunday.

Ironically, the Bears are Chase Daniel’s fourth NFL team he’s played for, yet he’s only started four games in his ten-year career. Over those four games he’s completed 67.7 percent of his passes, with four touchdowns thrown in two wins and two losses. Mixed results from career backups are to be expected, but if the Bears are to challenge for an NFC crown, Daniel must take advantage of a Raiders’ pass rush that ranks 31st overall in team sack percentage.

Daniel proved to be a solid game manager last week against the Vikings, completing 73.3 percent of his passes and tossing a touchdown. Much like the Raiders’ defense, the Bears’ offense has struggled to forge an identity and progress in a decisive manner. This weekend presents an excellent opportunity for Chase to utilize his 10 years of experience and direct Chicago’s offense towards their fourth win in five games.  

Mack may be the only person that wants to beat the Raiders more than the Bears and their fans. To insure a win across the Atlantic on Sunday, the Bears must:

-Maintain or increase their 4.2 sacks per game (No. 3 in the NFL)
-Force more incompletions between Carr and his receivers (Carr has completed 72.1 percent of his passes for third in the NFL)
-Score repeatedly on an anemic defense that is allowing 25.2 points per game (ranked 24th in the league)

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Eddie Jackson's in the longest turnover drought of his life, and "it's getting stressful."

USA Today

Eddie Jackson's in the longest turnover drought of his life, and "it's getting stressful."

At this point last season, Eddie Jackson had forced turnovers in three of the first four games, and was coming off a first half highlighted by a 65-yard scoop and score against the Bills. Jackson ended the season as the defense's most consistent playmaker, which makes the underwhelming first half of 2019 even more confusing. Big plays aren't coming like they used to, and the Bears' defense – Jackson especially – are still trying to figure out why.

"You know I really can’t even answer that," he said on Tuesday. "We’ve just got to continue flying around and try to make plays on the ball."

"That’s like a trick question - I really don’t know how to answer that. You’ve got to fly around. Guys got to make plays on the ball, strip the ball, or get in position to make plays and try to intercept it and things like that. Really don’t know." 

The last time Jackson scored was in the Bears' Thanksgiving game last season. He jumped a slant from Matt Stafford and ran it back 40-something yards, winning the game for the Bears; it was his 5th touchdown through 27 career games. Now he's played 39 games and still stuck at 5. 

"This is the longest it’s ever been in my life , playing football, without an interception, without a touchdown – ever," he said. "So it’s getting stressful. I’m just happy we won the last game, but just being that type of competitor, you want the ball. It’s going to come, that’s all I can tell myself." 

His numbers, outside of turnovers, are also down, but Jackson still feels like he's playing well. Through his first two seasons he earned a reputation for always being around the ball, and for whatever reason, that just hasn't been the case so far in 2019. 

"I’m one of my biggest critics, so I just feel like I need to get in more positions to make plays, if that makes any sense," he said. "Like I said, it’s a different system, there are different things, so you’ve just got to buy in and control what you can control. And that’s dominating my square and my man. Wherever I’m in, just got to dominate that." 

The Bears spent Tuesday morning watching game tape from last year's Rams game, which in theory bodes well for Jackson's confidence. Not only did he play well (1 INT), but the Bears shut down a Rams offense that had scored 30 points or more in four straight games. Holding LA to a couple field goals was one of the biggest moments of the Bears' season. 

"Our preparation in practice was dead on," Jackson said. "Details, everyone was locked in. We knew it was going to be a tough game, and for us to come out and stand up how we stood up last year, it was some sight to see." 

The Bears will try and replicate that type of performance on Sunday night, and with the game-plan focused on forcing Goff to throw from the pocket, Jackson's going to get his chances. He admitted that there have been other chances throughout this season that he's been tempted to 'cheat' on, but has tried to stay disciplined within his first NFL system change. 

"You don’t want to press too much," he said. "It’s hard doing that, especially having the type of secondary that we have back there and even the type of confidence I have in myself and the type of player I am, you want to jump things.

"I’m just happy we won the last game, but just being that type of competitor, you want the ball. It’s going to come, that’s all I can tell myself." 

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Bears have two top-50 picks in updated 2020 NFL Draft order

Bears have two top-50 picks in updated 2020 NFL Draft order

The 2019 NFL season is slowly coming to a close. Only seven games remain in the regular season and many teams have already begun planning their offseason strategy.

The biggest team-building event of every offseason is the NFL Draft. The Bears will once again be without a first-round pick in 2020 -- it was part of last September's Khalil Mack trade -- but they do have two second-rounders at their disposal (theirs and Oakland's.)

As of now, those two picks sit at No. 46 and 49 overall.

Here is the updated first-round NFL draft order heading into Week 11:

1. Bengals (0-9)
2. Redskins (1-8)
3. Giants (2-8)
4. Dolphins (2-7)
5. Jets (2-7)
6. Falcons (2-7)
7. Browns (3-6)
8. Buccaneers (3-6)
9. Broncos (3-6)
10. Cardinals (3-6-1)
11. Lions (3-5-1)
12. Chargers (4-6)
13. Jaguars (4-5)
14. Raiders (from Bears) (4-5)
15. Titans (5-5)
16. Eagles (5-4)
17. Raiders (5-4)
18. Colts (5-4)
19. Panthers (5-4)
20. Jaguars (from Rams) (5-4)
21. Cowboys (5-4)
22. Dolphins (from Steelers) (5-4)
23. Chiefs (6-4)
24. Vikings (7-3)
25. Bills (6-3)
26. Dolphins (from Texans) (6-3)
27. Saints (7-2)
28. Seahawks (8-2)
29. Ravens (7-2)
30. Packers (8-2)
31. Patriots (8-1)
32. 49ers (8-1) 

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