One big note worth watching when the Chicago Bears take on the Las Vegas Raiders will be how much the Bears can defend tight end Michael Mayer. Mayer is just a rookie but is coming off of a game where he recorded five catches for 75 yards. Will this continue against Chicago?
Can the Chicago Bears defend Michael Mayer?
It is not a surprise that his production improved because he was also seeing the field much more. Austin Hooper had been starting over him, but the flip was made last week. Mayer ran a career-high 67% of the routes and had a career-high 27% targets per route run, as well as 21% of the targets and 18% of the team's air yards.
Entering the game, he ran 36% of the routes, had a 7% target per route run, 4% of the targets, and 4% of the air yards. Needless to say, he has seen a pretty major increase in work. So, the question now is whether this will be sustained against the Chicago Bears.
A backup quarterback hurts, but the Bears may be the weakest against tight ends. They have not faced too many good ones, but Travis Kelce had 69 yards and a touchdown in a little over a half, and TJ Hockenson finished with 50 yards on six catches against the Bears.
This will come down to two key defenders for the Bears. On paper, Tremaine Edmunds and Jaquan Brisker are supposed to be the Bears' best defenders. They are supposed to combine to shut down the middle of the field.
Brisker has dealt with injuries, and it looks like his hamstring is holding him back in coverage in recent weeks. Edmunds has a variety of issues, and he has not been able to get his head on track since signing with the Bears.
If the Raiders are smart, they will look to target Mayer early and see how these defenders react. Will the Bears prove that they can step up, or will this start a trend of teams attacking these defenders in coverage?