Carr vs. Callahan
Derek Carr will have an encounter with a friend and former coach on the other sideline: Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan. Callahan was Carr's quarterbacks coach in Oakland in 2018 – a season in which Carr threw for 4,049 passing yards and 19 touchdowns for a 93.9 passer rating and an AFC-best 68.9 completion percentage. The Raiders quarterback said Wednesday that him and Callahan still have a good relationship and talk often.
"Callahan, love him to death. Gosh, he helped me so much when he was the quarterback coach here," said Carr. "Just sitting in his office talking about go balls or talking about this coverage or this trajectory of a throw and just studying that with him and becoming a better player. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a really, really good football coach.
"Our relationship, we still talk. We still text. When we are not playing each other obviously, he'll send me a throw that I made in a game and just be like, 'Are you kidding me?' ... Same here, if Joe [Burrow] has a good day, I'll send him a text, 'Wow, that was awesome. I love that you ran such and such play and hit him on this. That was great. Great call.' That kind of stuff."
Even with the relationship the two have, they'll both be very competitive against each other. Carr has given insight to the Silver and Black defense on what to prepare for from Callahan's offense, and he knows that the same will be coming from the opposing side.
"Helping our guys and the way that he thinks and things like that, absolutely," continued Carr. "There [are] definitely things I can try and help. I know he did it against us last time we played, giving them a whole bunch of stuff. We got a whole bunch of crazy looks last time we played them, so it was good."
Tampa Bay reunion in Las Vegas
Rich Bisaccia, like Brian Callahan, will be going up against a former player he has ties to.
Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor crossed paths with Bisaccia on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007, when Taylor was signed as an undrafted rookie quarterback out of Nebraska. In his stint in Tampa, he was on the practice squad, while Bisaccia was their special teams coordinator. Now the two will be facing off in Allegiant Stadium as head coaches.
"Zac always reminds me that I never really talked to him when he was on our team with the Bucs, but that's not really true," joked Bisaccia.
"He's done a tremendous job. They have a good roster," Bisaccia said of Taylor's team. "They play extremely physical. They're multi-dimensional on offense."
The competitiveness of Joe Burrow
Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has some history with the Burrow family.
Bradley coached with Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow's father, Jim, at North Dakota State University. They were together with the Bison from 2003-04 as coordinators for the defense. Bradley will now be tasked with scheming against the younger Burrow – who has throw for 2,497 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season.
"I've known Joe, I think obviously he was in second grade when they left, but great family," said Bradley. "I know how competitive the family is and I know how competitive Joe is. He's extremely competitive, very smart. Very talented, very poised. Not a lot of guys, especially in their younger years, when they feel pressure keep their eyes downfield, and he's one of those guys that can do that."
The only thing that has hobbled Burrow this year is his ball security. He's currently tied for the league-lead in interceptions and pick sixes.
The thrill of the Chase
Ja'Marr Chase has been tearing up defenses since he's entered the NFL this year. However, there might be trouble in paradise for the rookie receiver.
After averaging nearly 108 yards per game his first seven games, he's had a dip in production with the attention he's drawn. His past two games for the Bengals, Chase totaled 81 yards at a 41 percent catch rate. The Bengals are 5-1 this season in games where Chase has had over 60 receiving yards, so it will be imperative for Casey Hayward Jr. and Tre’von Moehrig to take him out of the equation for the Bengals offense.
Opening Wall Street back up
A common theme recently has been the volume –or lack thereof – of Darren Waller getting the ball.
The Pro Bowl tight end has not had a game of more than seven catches since his Week 1 game with 10 catches, 105 yards and a touchdown. Waller's 24 receiving yards in the 41-14 loss to the Chiefs was his lowest total all of this season. A big factor of Waller's lack of production doesn't really have anything to do with what he's doing on the field, but more with the attention he's been receiving from defenses.
"Whenever I'm out wide, it's usually a cloud situation. Going over the middle of the field, there's maybe somebody underneath me, somebody outside of me and someone inside. So that is what happens a lot of the time," said Waller. "And there's situations where I finally do get a one-on-one look and its like, you separate or there may be times where you may not win a rep.
"That's just the way the game goes and you've just got to be able to stay encouraged and stay poised. ... I wish it could go back to it just being one-on-one every time like it's 2019, but that's just not the case anymore I guess."
Waller will draw another great matchup from young star safety Jessie Bates III. Bates was named to the second-team All-Pro last season. Nevertheless, offensive coordinator Greg Olson still has his plan to get the ball to the Raiders' dynamic playmaker as much as they can.
"Every team is going to defend Darren Waller, but we will continue to find ways to get him the ball and get him targets because he's that good of a player obviously," said Olson. "Without giving anything away, we'll just continue to work ways to get him the ball."
Taking Mixon out of the mix
A huge concern for the Raiders defense should be stopping the run.
The Raiders have been a good pass defense this season, however, have still struggled with stopping the run. They have allowed 4.5 yards per carry this season, the ninth-most in the league. This will be something that will need to be addressed going up against Bengals running back Joe Mixon, who is top 10 in the league in rushing yards (636), carries (150) and rushing touchdowns (seven) this season.
"He's a guy that is a handful and a jump cutter and a big, strong physical back," Bradley said about Mixon. "A very impressive offense. They can be very explosive."
The Raiders hit the practice field at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as they prepare for their Week 11 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.