LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) – Jack Del Rio is ready to match up with old friend and former boss John Fox.
Oakland visits the Chicago Bears on Sunday and instead of the usual collisions of helmets and pads, the Raiders coach had an unusual idea.
“I wish it could be him and I wrestling on the 50 (yard line),” Del Rio said, tongue in cheek. “But that’s not going to come down. I think Foxy might still take me, he’s a pretty tough guy.”
Del Rio has a long history with Fox, having served as his defensive coordinator in Carolina in the early 2000s and again in Denver from 2012 to 2014. That included a 3-1 stint as interim coach in 2013 when Fox had heart surgery.
Now, here they are, ready to meet as the Raiders (2-1) take on the winless Bears (0-3).
“You want to beat the guys you know real bad,” Del Rio said. “That’s just how it is.”
Fox praised Del Rio and said he was glad to see him get another opportunity as a head coach after a nine-year run in Jacksonville.
“When I’ve looked on, Jack and his staff have done an outstanding job, really, in all three phases,” he said.
The Raiders come in with back-to-back wins over Baltimore and Cleveland after a season-opening loss to Cincinnati. The Bears are at what might be their lowest point in years.
They got shut out for the first time since 2002 in a 26-0 loss at Seattle last week, and that came on the heels of a 48-23 embarrassment at home by Arizona.
Chicago matched its worst start since 2003. And another loss would put the Bears at 0-4 for the first time since the 2000 team dropped its first four.
Getting quarterback Jay Cutler back after he sat out last week with a hamstring injury would help. But the Bears’ issues extend beyond the quarterback position.
Here are some things to look for as Oakland goes for its third straight win and Chicago tries to pick up its first under Fox.
STREAKING RAIDERS: A week after snapping an 11-game road losing streak and a 16-game skid in the Eastern time zone by winning in Cleveland, Oakland is looking to end another drought. The Raiders haven’t won three straight since beating San Diego, Minnesota and Chicago in succession in November 2011.
COMING, GOING: Whether Cutler returns or Jimmy Clausen starts his second straight game, the Bears’ lineup will have a different look.
Chicago traded pass rusher Jared Allen to Carolina after he was largely ineffective the past two years. That along with the presence of Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho at outside linebacker made Allen expendable.
The Bears also traded oft-injured linebacker Jonathan Bostic to New England and cut safety Brock Vereen.
Chicago might be getting defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff back. The NFL suspended him the first three games for violating its substance abuse policy, although an ankle injury would have sidelined him anyway.
TERRIFIC TRIO: The Raiders hope they just witnessed the first of many big days from the combination of Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray. Carr threw for 314 yards, Cooper caught eight passes for 134 yards and Murray ran for 139 yards against Cleveland. That marked the first time since Jason Campbell, Darren McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey did it in 2010 that the Raiders had players reach 300 yards passing, 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game. Only one other time in franchise history did the Raiders reach those marks with their own draft picks. Marc Wilson threw for 346 yards and Marcus Allen had 102 yards rushing and 102 yards receiving in the 1986 season opener against Denver.
NOTHING SPECIAL: The Bears keep getting stung by big returns.
Arizona’s David Johnson ran back the opening kickoff 108 yards two weeks ago. Against Seattle, the Bears gave up a 105-yard kickoff return to Tyler Lockett and a 64-yard punt return by Richard Sherman on a trick play that set up a field goal.
It does not help that the bottom of the roster keeps changing, although special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers did not want to hear that.
“There is an expectation and standard that we expect to play on game day regardless of who is out there,” he said.
RUN STOPPERS: The Raiders took the run away from Cleveland last week and held the Browns to 39 yards after giving up more than 100 in each of the first two games. They are facing a stiff challenge with Chicago’s Matt Forte second to Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson with 276 yards rushing.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.