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Raiders turn to Luke Getsy after whirlwind 10-hour span

Updated February 4, 2024 - 1:09 pm

In less than 10 hours Saturday, the Raiders went from ushering in Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense to the passing and running attack of Luke Getsy that often left Bears fans shaking their heads in bewilderment.

It was a stunning turn of events that leaves plenty more questions than answers, though it’s worth pointing out that so much of what the Raiders do under Getsy will be predicated on the talent level of his quarterback.

On the surface, the differences between Kingsbury, the former Cardinals coach, and Getsy, the Bears’ offensive coordinator the past two seasons who is expected to be hired by the Raiders for the same position, could not be more apparent.

Kingsbury’s reputation as a pass-heavy mastermind compared to Getsy, whose Bears teams ranked 32nd and 28th in pass attempts the past two years, creates the perception that the Raiders are doing an about-face in immediately turning to Getsy after negotiations with Kingsbury fell apart.

For all of Kingsbury’s pass-happy persona, though, the Cardinals teams he coached from 2019 to 2022 never finished higher than 14th in pass attempts. And Arizona finished in the top 10 in rushing attempts and yards in 2020 and 2021.

Kingsbury’s willingness to run the ball probably was part of what drew Raiders coach Antonio Pierce to him in the first place. Pierce has steadfastly wanted to build a physical, run-based offense.

The added attraction of Kingsbury was that he put his quarterbacks — Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech and Kyler Murray at Arizona — in favorable positions to succeed. That was primarily the result of his Air Raid scheme that spreads out defenses and forces opponents to defend players one-on-one. At that point, it’s on the quarterback to pick out the most advantageous matchup and attack it.

The Raiders hoped that Kingsbury would have that effect on their quarterbacks. Part of this relied on adding a dynamic quarterback who could carry out Kingsbury’s attack. Having Mahomes or Murray in charge of the Air Raid offense is one thing. Aidan O’Connell is another.

That brings us back to the 39-year-old Getsy.

The Bears ran the ball the third- and second-most times in the NFL the past two years. That caught the eye of Pierce, without question. The run-game emphasis is also one of the reasons the Raiders interviewed UCLA coach Chip Kelly for the position.

But as well as Chicago ran the ball, the Bears ranked 23rd and 18th in scoring under Getsy and threw the ball at a low rate compared to the rest of the league. Those stats ultimately led to his firing Jan. 10.

The sense, according to people around the NFL, is that quarterback Justin Fields played a significant role in Getsy’s play-calling decisions. Fields isn’t nearly as accurate or decisive throwing the ball as Mahomes or Murray, and his limitations as a passer hindered what Getsy could comfortably scheme up.

That’s especially noteworthy now, considering the connection the Raiders might have to Fields as a potential trade option. But given the lack of success Getsy had with him, is that a trade worth pursuing?

In contrast, it’s worth pointing out what Getsy and the Bears did to the Raiders without Fields in October in a 30-12 win that essentially led to the firing of Raiders coach Josh McDaniels.

Fields was sidelined with an injury, which meant undrafted rookie free agent Tyson Bagent started for the Bears. He threw to nine receivers and went 21 of 29 for 162 yards, one touchdown and a 97.2 quarterback rating. The Bears punished the Raiders for 173 rushing yards on 38 carries.

Keep that in mind. It could be a prototype of a Getsy game plan for the Raiders.

But those games were few and far between under Getsy’s leadership. He was hired in Chicago with the full understanding of the quarterback he would be working with, and while Fields improved moderately under Getsy, he never showed the consistently required of NFL quarterbacks. Getsy deserves a share of the blame for that failure.

How much of that burden falls on Getsy with the Raiders is impossible to calculate. If they field a potent offense, that will provide a better answer. If the offense continues to struggle, that will tell a different story.

In Green Bay, where Getsy worked for five seasons as a quarterbacks coach, wide receivers coach and pass-game coordinator, the offense looked entirely better than it did in Chicago. It’s the reason the Bears hired Getsy in 2022.

Of course, Aaron Rodgers was the Packers’ quarterback, and he was throwing to Davante Adams. Getsy will be reunited with Adams in Las Vegas.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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