Joniak: Keys To Bears-Jets

Jeff Joniak
October 26, 2018 - 6:23 pm

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Bears square off against the Jets in Chicago Sunday. Here are my keys to the game:

Offense
Pressure packages fuel the New York Jets’ defense so that Mitch Trubisky and the rest of the Bears offense will need to have their collective radar on.  Head coach Todd Bowles brings it from every level of his defense and on any down. If Trubisky can stay out of third-and-long, that would keep the Jets off-balance.  On third down, New York ranks fifth in the league at 33 percent, after limiting the Vikings to a two-of-15 performance in week 7. They are also a top-five defensive team in the red zone.  Zeroing in on Jets safety Jamal Adams and knowing where he is at all times is extremely important for the Bears. He is a playmaker and gets things done behind the line of scrimmage. The pressure leads to mistakes, which leads to turnovers. The Jets are one of three teams that twice this season have four-or-more takeaways in a game. A more productive per-carry average in the run game is a Matt Nagy mission statement this week. Jordan Howard is averaging 3.02 yards per carry and has caught just six passes in his last five games. Tarik Cohen is averaging 4.8 for the season. The Jets under Bowles have held 17 teams under 70 yards rushing, the second most in the NFL since Bowles took over as head coach. Getting it going on the ground may not be easy, and the Bears will start rookie James Daniels at left guard for the injured Eric Kush.

 

Defense  

Big plays, in large part due to poor tackling, have damaged the Bears’ defense in the last two weeks.  Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is capable of delivering darts for big plays, so the after the catch portion of the play must be limited. Ten different Jets have produced 23 passing plays of 20 yards or more, tied for first in the league with New Orleans and Denver. Darnold is a confident rookie quarterback who fires the ball in tight windows in an effort to make a big play. He wins some and loses some.  If Robbie Anderson is inactive due to an ankle sprain, the Jets will not have one receiver on the field with a touchdown catch this season. They are very thin. The Jets’ version of the west coast offense coordinated by former Bears assistant Jeremy Bates uses a lot of traditional play-action techniques built off the run game. Veteran Isaiah Crowell ranks sixth in the league in rushing. This unit produced 323 yards on the ground against Denver earlier this month, so the Bears will need to stop the run.

 

Special teams

After catastrophic breakdowns produced two return touchdowns on special teams against New England, coordinator Chris Tabor is geared up to prevent a similar situation against the Jets. The first order of business is quieting Jets return specialist Andre Roberts, who has five returns of 40+ yards, the most by a Jet since 1987. It includes an 87-yard touchdown on a punt return against Detroit. It is rare that a long-snapper leads his team in tackles, but Thomas Hennessey leads the Jets with eight this season. The Bears made a big play last week forcing a turnover and setting up a score and will aim to do it again against the Jets.

 

Intangibles

Preying on a traveling Jets team thinned out by injuries gives the Bears an edge to take advantage of early.  From receivers to backs to offensive linemen to the secondary, the Jets are turning to backups and recent additions to weather the storm. While the Bears are dealing with their own injury situations with outside linebacker Kahlil Mack and receiver Allen Robinson, they are nearly at full strength and must lean on notable players on both sides of the ball to execute and end their two game losing streak. 

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.