Chicago Bears: Oakland Raiders

Bush limited to two snaps in Week 4

September, 30, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The expectation was for Chicago Bears No. 2 running back Michael Bush to have a larger role in the offense during the club’s Week 4 game against the Detroit Lions.

However, the Bears sent Bush on the field for just two of the team’s 72 offensive snaps in their 40-32 loss to the Detroit Lions. In stark contrast, starting tailback Matt Forte played 71 of the 72 snaps and carried the ball 14 times for 95 yards and one touchdown. Forte also caught the ball five times for 22 yards.

The Bears signed Bush to a four-year, $14 million contract in the spring of 2012 to serve as Forte’s primary backup. Bush will earn a total of $2.550 million this season ($1.5 million base salary, $1 million roster bonus and $50,000 workout bonus), but has run the ball just 16 times for 24 yards in four games.

Bears coach Marc Trestman explained that Bush’s role was limited on Sunday because the Bears fell behind by 20 points in the first half.

“I think it was the kind of game it was more than anything,” Trestman said. “It was a two-minute drill more than anything else. We want Michael to be part of our football team and hope to get him in the mix during the course of the game. We have to grow in that area. We just have to find more ways to get him out there. It’s just difficult because we don’t want to take Matt off the field, either.”

Bush appeared in 13 games for the Bears last season, carrying the ball 114 times for 411 yards and five touchdowns. He rushed for a career-high 977 yards for the Oakland Raiders in 2011.

5 Things To Watch: Bears at Raiders

August, 23, 2013
Marshall & Cutler Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesIt's too early to panic about targeting Brandon Marshall too much, but look for diversity Friday.
For those craving real action, this is the closest you’re going to get until Sept. 8, when the Chicago Bears host the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular-season opener.

Teams around the league view Week 3 of the preseason as the most important because most clubs play their starters the entire first half and into the second as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Bears coach Marc Trestman said he’ll play his starters for the first two quarters and possibly a series or two in the second half Friday when they face the Oakland Raiders on the road.

Here are five things to watch in this contest:

1. How Jay Cutler distributes his passes: The first two preseason games shouldn’t be a real indicator of how Jay Cutler will distribute his passes among the receivers. But the issue certainly became a topic of discussion when he directed all five of his passes (with four completions) toward Brandon Marshall in the second game. With Marshall out of the lineup in the preseason opener at Carolina, Cutler targeted five receivers and completed 6 of 8 for 56 yards and an interception. But once Marshall returned, Cutler fired all of his attempts at the receiver, completing 4 of 5 for 38 yards, a touchdown and an INT.

With the first group set to see its most significant action of the preseason, it’s expected Cutler will distribute the ball more evenly because naturally, the starters will play more. Running back Matt Forte pointed that out Wednesday shortly after the team’s practice inside the Walter Payton Center.

“We didn’t play the entire game [in the first two games]. So you just can’t say, ‘Hey, how many different passes and runs went to two different guys on the offense?’” Forte said. “Obviously if we would’ve played four quarters, the ball would’ve been spread around. In a game, of course they’re going to be looking at Brandon, and they’re going to be looking at me coming out of the backfield and in the backfield. So other people are going to get the ball, and when they get their chances they’ll excel.”

It’s truly too early to lend credence to the notion that Cutler has become overly reliant on Marshall. This outing should go a long way toward debunking that.

2. A more authentic representation of Marc Trestman’s offense: The Bears executed largely no-frills attacks over their first two preseason outings. But Trestman now needs to see how the team operates some of the intricacies of his offense. Going into this contest, the plan is to put together a minimal game plan to attack the Raiders without exposing too much of what the club will do in the regular season in terms of plays and formations.

But even with somewhat of a stripped-down plan, look for the Bears to provide the most authentic preview to date of what fans can expect from Trestman’s offense in the regular season. The team showcased some of the zone blocking schemes up front last week in its 33-28 win as Forte rushed for 74 yards on eight attempts. Expect to see more of the anticipated quick passing game of the West Coast offense against the Raiders.

“We’re game planning this a little bit more than the other games that we’ve played in the preseason,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “This week we’ve scheduled it out where we’re getting used to what a game week would feel like. So that’s the No. 1 thing we have to get ready for. From there, we’re gonna play the guys hopefully longer than the last time, and we’ll see how that goes. We just want to see a functioning offense. Can we be efficient? Can we call the play, get out of the huddle, quickly get to the line of scrimmage, snap the football and do the right thing? From there, plays will happen.”

3. The rookie right side of the offensive line: Rookie first-round pick Kyle Long and fifth-rounder Jordan Mills receive their second consecutive starts at right guard and right tackle, respectively, against the Raiders. How they perform against the Raiders likely could solidify their statuses as starters on the right side of the line, where they were competing with veterans James Brown and J’Marcus Webb.

Throughout the preseason, the rookie duo has played in a total of 86 plays apiece, while allowing a combined three pressures and only one quarterback hit. That’s part of the reason for the staff’s optimism regarding the pair, even though that enthusiasm has been veiled.

“With the new offense, everybody’s kind of working their way through knowing everything that’s going on,” Kromer said. “So [they’ve performed] no different than anyone else. We’re behind. We need to catch up and keep working. They have to continue their development as well as the offensive line in general. There’s a lot of development that needs to be done yet. Luckily we have two or three weeks left before we play Cincinnati.”

The fact the Bears trust Long and Mills enough to start them in the most important outing of the preseason provides a strong indication of the team’s plan for the rookies. The key for them now, however, is to actually go out and earn their jobs against the Raiders. More than likely, they will.

4. Rookie linebacker Jonathan Bostic: The latest timetable given by Trestman on the potential availability for veteran middle linebacker D.J. Williams is approximately two weeks, which means the Bears would be pushing it to thrust him into the starting lineup on Sept. 8 when the club hosts the Bengals.

That’s why it’s important for Bostic, a second-round pick, to put in some quality work in what will be his most extensive action of the preseason.

“We think eventually he’ll be back,” Trestman said of Williams. “We just don’t know when. We’re getting close to the season. His conditioning now becomes an issue.”

So, internally, the staff at this point seems to be pondering the possibility of going into the regular season without Williams in the starting lineup. Bostic can make that decision easier for the coaches with another strong performance against the Raiders.

Bostic returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown in the preseason opener at Carolina, and followed that with a two-tackle performance against the Chargers, in which he lay down a bone-rattling lick that broke up a pass and resulted in a $21,000 fine from the league. Bostic continues to make minor mistakes that will only be corrected with more playing time. But he’s left little doubt about his ability to start as a rookie. The staff has a difficult decision to make. Bostic will make it even tougher with another big game.

5. The preseason debut of defensive end Julius Peppers: Peppers hasn’t played a down throughout the preseason, and although he’s a perennial Pro Bowler, it’s important for him to get in some snaps to prepare him for the regular season; especially when considering the starters likely won’t even play in the exhibition finale against the Cleveland Browns.

The Bears expected Peppers to play last week against the Chargers, but the defensive end -- after doing some work on the field during pregame warm-ups -- approached Trestman “and said he didn’t feel right,” according to the coach. Peppers experienced tightness in a hamstring during an Aug. 3 practice, and the team has been cautious about subjecting him to further injury by giving him days off and keeping him out of preseason games.

The good news, however, is that Peppers participated fully in practice all week leading up to the matchup with the Raiders.

“Every player needs to work, and needs to play. We’ll do the right thing for Julius,” Trestman said. “He’s been doing this a long time. Every player needs the work. He’ll get a chance to play if he’s 100 percent and believes he can go.”

Source: Roach 4-year deal worth $13M

March, 18, 2013
CHICAGO -- Former Chicago Bears linebacker Nick Roach signed a four-year, $13 million contract with the Oakland Raiders that included a total guarantee of $5 million, according to documents obtained by

Roach received a $3.185 signing bonus when he signed with the Raiders on Friday.

(Read full post)

Source: Roach visits Raiders

March, 13, 2013
Chicago Bears free-agent linebacker Nick Roach is visiting the Oakland Raiders, according to a source familiar with the situation.

A source said eight teams have expressed interest in Roach, who figures to get a bump from his $1.715 million base salary in 2012.

Roach finished sixth on the Bears with 84 tackles, although he usually came off the field during passing downs in favor of an extra defensive back.

Source: Mike Tice to talk with Raiders

January, 17, 2012
Apparently, recently promoted Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice could be in line for another bump up the coaching chain, as the Oakland Raiders are scheduled to bring him in Tuesday for an interview, according to an NFL source.

The Raiders requested permission from the Bears to interview Tice for their head coaching vacancy on Tuesday, according to sources.

Read the entire story.

ESPNChicago's Jeff Dickerson recaps the Bears' loss to the Raiders and previews the Chiefs game with quarterback Caleb Hanie.

Bears strayed from winning formula

November, 28, 2011

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Under Lovie Smith, the Chicago Bears pride themselves on winning the turnover battle. They lost that statistical fight in Oakland on Sunday, and as expected, lost the game.

Making his first regular season start since playing at Colorado State in 2007, Caleb Hanie threw three first-half interceptions in the Bears’ 25-20 loss to the Raiders.

[+] EnlargeCorey Graham
AP Photo/Ben MargotCorey Graham's third interception in as many games was the only turnover the Bears forced on Sunday.
Chicago only caused one turnover -- a Corey Graham interception in the second quarter -- and it resulted in a touchdown. They flubbed several chances to pick off Carson Palmer and nearly snagged an onside kick near the end of the game.

“The way we’ve won games this year is taking care of the football, winning the turnover ratio and that really hurt us [Sunday],” Smith said. “It’s kind of simple as that.”

“Any time you lose the turnover ratio, chances are you’re going to lose,” cornerback Charles Tillman said. “It’s a proven stat. If you’re plus-3, you have a 100 percent chance of winning. If you’re plus-2, it’s like 85. Plus-1, it’s like 75. If you break even, it’s a flip of the coin.”

This was only the second game all season the Bears have finished with a negative turnover differential. And in the other game, they actually won. Jay Cutler fumbled once and the Bears didn’t need a turnover in their 39-10 win over Minnesota on Oct. 16.

In four of the Bears’ seven wins, the turnover margins were noticeable -- Chicago had an aggregate advantage of 16-5. The Bears are 2-2 when they finish even on turnovers and lost once, at Detroit, when they held a 1-0 advantage. Cutler has 10 turnovers and Forte two. Of the Bears' 15 turnovers this season, opponents have scored on nine ensuing drives, resulting in 49 points.

Thanks to the defense, Hanie’s three interceptions only turned into two field goals for Oakland, but with limited experience, he remains a question mark for the Bears as he tries to fill in for an injured Cutler.

“That’s normally how you’d expect a guy to start off when he hasn’t had a lot of time,” Smith said. “But once he got going, especially in the second half, he made a lot of plays. You could see him more and more comfortable in the pocket leading our offense.”

While the first two interceptions were on Hanie, the third looked to be a questionable Mike Martz play call: an across-the-body screen pass on second and 1 at the Oakland 7-yard line. Kamerion Wimbley picked off the tipped pass and returned it to the Bears’ 6-yard line.

If it looked like the Raiders knew it was coming, they did. Raiders linebacker Aaron Curry tipped the ball to Wimbley and said he recognized the play immediately.

"I'll never forget seeing it on film and saying, 'That's their go-to play. If they need these points, that's their play,'” Curry told reporters Sunday, according to a story on the San Francisco Chronicle website. “Then I saw the formation on the field and I was like, 'This is easy, I'm just going to wait for them to throw it to me.' "

Smith, however, wouldn’t second-guess the play call. He said it was just a great play by Curry to tip it.

“Of course you’re going to get criticized when something didn’t work,” Smith said. “Next time it will.”

Report Card: Bears-Raiders

November, 27, 2011

Check out our Bears Center for a complete recap of the Bears' 25-20 loss to the Raiders and grades in six key areas of the game.'s Michael C. Wright and Jeff Dickerson break down Caleb Hanie's inconsistent debut as the Bears starting quarterback.

Lovie: Bears 'can build' off Hanie's debut

November, 27, 2011
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith never took direct questions about Caleb Hanie's status as the interim starting quarterback, after he threw three crippling interceptions in the team's 25-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Read the entire story.

Urlacher: Blame defense, not Hanie

November, 27, 2011

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The way Brian Urlacher sees it, Caleb Hanie's three first-half interceptions weren't responsible for the Bears' 25-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

Instead, Urlacher puts the loss squarely on the shoulders of the Bears' veteran defense.

"He did a good job," Urlacher said of Hanie. "He threw a couple picks, but that's going to happen. The tipped ball was a nice play by them. He'll get better, and I didn't think he did a bad job today. He kept us in the game. If we play better defense we win the game. We were in the game late, but just did not make enough plays on defense."

Two separate issues upset the perennial Pro Bowl linebacker following the loss which snapped a five-game winning streak and dropped the Bears to 7-4.

First, the Bears managed to force only one turnover -- a Corey Graham interception -- despite being presented with multiple chances to intercept Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer.

"We should have won that football game based on the game our offense played," Urlacher said. "We didn't play well enough on defense, gave up too many big plays and didn't get enough takeaways. That's why we didn't win."

Cornerback Tim Jennings put himself in position to break up three passes, but was unable to come away with a pick. That's not to say Jennings had a bad game, but in those situations the defender must come up with the football, especially on a team that needs turnovers to win games.

"I had a couple of good reads and good breaks, but I got to come down with those and give us opportunities to get the offense back on the field," Jennings said. "We just got to get those takeaways."

Urlacher's second objection was the Raiders' late touchdown that ultimately proved to be the deciding score. After keeping Oakland out of the end zone all game, Raiders receiver Louis Murphy slipped past Jennings and hauled in a 47-yard reception that set up Michael Bush's 2-yard touchdown run.

Murphy made an excellent route adjustment on the play, breaking off an inside pattern which Jennings had perfect position against, and turning up the field to beat the man coverage.

"I mean, they get the ball back with five and half minutes and we had a chance to stop them but gave up a touchdown," Urlacher said. "That's not good defense. They made some plays, we didn't make enough. When the game was on the line they made plays.

"We didn't."

Performance Rating: Bears-Raiders

November, 27, 2011

Rate the Bears' play in Week 12 and see how they have fared week by week in our Performance Rating.

Rapid Reaction: Raiders 25, Bears 20

November, 27, 2011

OAKLAND, Calif. -- What looked like a debacle in the making turned out to be a hard-fought contest Sunday with the Bears' five-game winning streak coming to an end by virtue of a 25-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

No need to over-analyze this one. Undoubtedly, the three interceptions thrown by Caleb Hanie made the difference.

Despite the turnovers, Hanie displayed enough moxie to give the Bears at least a small level of comfort regarding his ability to lead them to wins in the absence of starting quarterback Jay Cutler.

Still, there will be questions about Hanie, the play calling, the running game and everything else.

We’ll cover a couple of those, in addition to pointing out some positives:

What it means: Chicago appears to have opened the door to the other contenders fighting for the two NFC wild-card playoff spots with the loss against the Raiders. The Bears own tiebreakers against the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons -- both 7-4 -- but they missed out on an opportunity to solidify their standing. The New York Giants (6-4) face the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, and also have a shot at getting into the picture.

In addition, a victory in Hanie’s first start would have gone a long way toward the team building confidence he can get it done over the next few weeks with Cutler out with a broken thumb. Despite Hanie’s gutsy attempt to rally the Bears in the fourth quarter, it’s likely there are questions within the staff and locker room about the quarterback’s ability to carry them into the postseason.

Obviously the schedule sets up well with a home game Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, followed by matchups with the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings to close out the regular season. The expectation within the staff is that Cutler will be back for one of the last two regular-season contests.

So the team needs to know Hanie can carry them until then.

Three in a row: Starting his second consecutive outing at nickel corner in place of D.J. Moore, who missed the game with an ankle injury, Corey Graham picked off his third pass in as many games in the first half.

Safety Brandon Meriweather tipped a Carson Palmer pass intended for Chaz Schilens with Graham coming up with the loose ball. The play only demonstrates that Graham -- one of the team’s best special-teams players -- is also capable of stepping into a major role on defense.

Graham is playing on a one-year deal so it will be interesting to see what kinds of overtures the team will make to bring back Graham for 2012.

Penalties costly: Officials flagged the Bears four times for 40 yards in the first eight minutes of the game.

A holding penalty by Craig Steltz forced Chicago to start its first possession of the game on the 18. The Bears started their third drive of the contest on their own 16 as a result of a Zack Bowman holding penalty.

Once that drive started, a personal foul by Tyler Clutts killed a 17-yard scramble by Hanie. On the very next play, a J’Marcus Webb false-start penalty pushed the team back to its own 14.

The lost field position proved valuable because after the Webb penalty, Stanford Routt picked off a Hanie pass intended for Matt Forte. The Raiders gained a net of 2 yards on the ensuing drive with Sebastian Janikowski kicking a 47-yard field goal to help his team to a 6-0 lead.

Interestingly, the Raiders came into Sunday’s game as the league’s most penalized team. With 10 minutes left to play, the Bears had been flagged six times for 51 yards, while the Raiders committed just four penalties for 29 yards.

Catch it Jennings: It’s often said that defensive backs are failed receivers, and Bears cornerback Tim Jennings demonstrated why against the Raiders.

Jennings dropped at least two interceptions that could have led to Bears points.

What’s next: The Bears host the Chiefs on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Third quarter: Raiders 18, Bears 7

November, 27, 2011
Jay CutlerAP Photo/Ben MargotInjured Bears quarterback Jay Cutler watches from the sidelines on Sunday.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Sebastian Janikowski set an Oakland Raiders franchise record for most field goals in a game in the third quarter by connecting for his fifth and sixth to put the Raiders ahead 18-7 as the Chicago Bears continued to sputter on offense.

The Raiders marched 71 yards in 10 plays to start the second half on a drive that included four plays of 11 yards or more, including a 29-yard completion from Carson Palmer to Marcel Reece with Janikowski doing the honors from 37 yards out.

Janikowski boomed a 44-yarder to set the franchise record with 22 seconds remaining.

Down eight points to start their first possession of the second half, the Bears called two runs on first and second downs, resulting in the chains moving for a first down. The Bears passed the ball on the next three plays. The result: a Caleb Hanie incompletion, a sack for a 10-yard loss, and the Bears eventually punting on fourth and 13.

By the end of the quarter, Hanie had passed for 79 yards and three interceptions on 8-fo-18 attempts.