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Analysis Bears

Can Right Tackle Elijah Wilkinson Handle the Pressure of Bears Defense?

Since John Elway has taken over as the general manager for the Denver Broncos, he has had issues finding a quarterback, and no, future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning does not count. Elway has not been able to draft a decent QB.

In the offseason, he traded for Joe Flacco, who to the surprise of no one, didn’t do much of anything on Monday night against the Raiders. For whatever reason, Elway loves Flacco, in fact, he claimed that he got the former Super Bowl champion in his prime.

Flacco is 34-years-old.

Considering the Bears’ defense held the great Aaron Rodgers to just 10 points in their week 1 loss, there is no reason why Flacco should have any success against one of the best defenses in the NFL.

After watching the tape, it’s obvious the Broncos should of scored more than 16 points against the Raiders. After being one of the worst red-zone teams in the preseason when it came to scoring TDs, the Broncos were 1-4 in the red-zone on Monday night.

They had multiple holding penalties that cost them. It didn’t help that one of the best right tackles in professional football was hurt early one and did not return to the game, more on that later on. The Raiders bullied the Broncos up front.

Last season the Raiders ranked last in the NFL in sacks, they had three on Joe Flacco and the Broncos in their week 1 matchup.

Each week during the regular season and hopefully, postseason, I will scout the Bears’ opponents. It will be broken down into two articles per week.

Let’s take a look at that Broncos’ offense.

Offensive Coordinator – Rich Scangarello

Players to Watch 

Elijah Wilkinson will start at RT for Ja’Wuan James on Sunday. He’s a versatile backup that played 4 of 5 offensive line positions during the preseason. He had a tough first-half against the Raiders, which is understandable, considering the rookie wasn’t expecting to play. He may have to block Khalil Mack on Sunday, which is something to monitor.

-Courtland Sutton had an up and down rookie season in 2018. He proved on Monday night that the talent is there. He caught 7 passes for 120 yards. He was used primarily on the outside, but his 11.5% snap share in the slot did create a few big plays.

Noah Fant played on 87% of the Broncos’ offensive snaps. The former Iowa TE was targeted just 4 times, recording two catches for 29 yards. Fant’s role in the offense will continue to grow, it normally takes a TE a few games to get going, especially rookies.

Strength: Wide Receivers 

I already mentioned Courtland Sutton, but Emmanuel Sanders has been good for a long time in Denver. Sanders had a huge fourth quarter, in which he had 86 receiving yards. Sutton and Sanders can make turn the game on one play with their big-play ability. With the offensive line not at 100%, it was hard for me to chose the running backs as the strength of the offense. For now, it’s the big-play wideouts.

Weakness: Offensive Line, Specifically RT

The absence of Ja’Wuan James cannot be overlooked. As versatile as Elijah Wilkinson is, he’s starting his first career NFL game against, arguably, the best defense is the league. The Bears sacked Rodgers five times last Thursday. On Sunday, Wilkinson will face-off against players like Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Roy-Robertson Harris. Talk about a tough start

How Can the Bears Exploit It? 

Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano is going to bring pressure. My goal would be to line Mack up as many times as possible against Wilkinson. Mack was held far too much last week and is going to be hungry to earn his first sack of 2019. I’m predicting 3 sacks on Sunday for Mack. Flacco has a tendency to hold onto the ball for too long, which helps my prediction. Let’s not forget, Mack once had 5 total sacks against the Broncos, in Denver.

Fifty-Deuce will be highly motivated.

Conclusion 

Look, the Broncos’ offense isn’t anything special. They are also missing their best offensive linemen. Let’s just say, points will be hard to come by in this game. The only thing that can slow down the Bears’ defense is the altitude in Denver, similar to what happened to them in the Miami heat last season.

Flacco will give the Bears 1-2 turnovers as well.

As long as the Bears keep the Broncos’ WRs in check, it should be a big day for Chicago’s defense.

Nick is the editor-in-chief at TheLoopSports.com. He is also a Chicago Sports fanatic, avid sports bettor, fantasy sports nut, and totally didn’t try to sell his soul on eBay (which he’s still waiting to get back by the way). For more fun, follow him on Twitter @PetroTLS

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Nick is the editor-in-chief at TheLoopSports.com & owner of TheChalkTLS.com. He also is a fantasy sports junkie, DFS player, and prop play guru. He considers himself a football expert but dabbles in a bit of everything, including trying to sell his own "soul" on eBay. For more fun, follow him on Twitter @PetroTLS. 

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