It has been a rough two weeks for the Chicago Bears as they have lost their last two games. They will have a chance to get back in the win column with a young and injured New York Jets team coming to town this Sunday.
Although they are inexperienced, the Jets still are good enough to upset the Bears if the Bears take them lightly. Here are five keys to a Bears victory against the Jets this Sunday:
Return of the Sack
One of the main reasons for the Bears struggles the last two weeks has been the team’s lack of a pass rush. In the first four games of the season, Chicago’s defense registered 18 sacks, but in the last two games has only recorded just one sack.
Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold has been sacked 16 times through seven games this season as he has been sacked three times or more in three different games. Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio could devise exotic blitz packages to confuse the first year quarterback to help the Bears pass rush. Sacks are key to the Bears success on defense.
Ground and pound with the conditions
Sunday’s weather forecast could be an ugly one with steady rain and cold temperatures expected for the game. The Bears offense is fortunate to have running backs that feature different traits. Jordan Howard is a workhorse back that work on the inside while Tarik Cohen has the speed to work the outside.
If conditions are bad, head coach Matt Nagy could rely heavily on the ground game as Howard could see his first +20 carry game since week three against Arizona. The Jets offense is susceptible to the run as they allowed two touchdown runs 10 yards or longer against the Minnesota Vikings last week.
Don’t force the new Bears acquisitions to shoulder the load
General manager Ryan pace’s two biggest acquisitions this offseason were the signing of wide receiver Allen Robinson and the trade for Mack. Both players have been key to the Bears success this year, but both played injured last week and are still battling injuries this week. It could be smart for Nagy to limit their playing time or set them with favorable matchups these next two weeks. Other players such as linebacker Leonard Floyd and wide receiver Kevin White could step up as their short-term replacements. White caught two passes in the fourth quarter of last week’s game when Robinson was sidelined with a groin injury, he has the size to provide Mitchel Trubisky a big bodied possession receiver who is also a threat to go deep. Floyd needs to step up as he has not recorded a sack this although he has been starting opposite of Mack.
Take advantage of the Jets injuries and sink their spirits early
The Jets are battling a rash of injuries themselves as they placed starting running back Bilal Powell on injured reserve with a neck injury and most likely will be without their two starting wide receivers. Receivers Robbie and Anderson and Quincy Enunwa are one and two in receptions on the team and have caught four of Darnold’s 10 touchdown passes this season.
With three starters at skill positions out for the Jets and the weather being less than exciting to play in, the Bears could and should try to put this game out of reach early. Trailing by a large margin in adverse conditions could lead to New York being highly unmotivated in trying to keep up with Chicago as the game goes on.
Create a Land of Confusion for Darnold
With the injuries at the receiver position, it could be a golden opportunity for the Bears secondary to create turnovers. Cornerback Kyle Fuller is the only Bears defender to record an interception in the last two games as he has picked off three passes.
As the Jets could be playing with two or three receivers lacking experience, the Bears secondary could either jump routes or be the benefactors of balls thrown due to miscommunication.
Darnold has struggled to protect the ball this year as he has thrown 10 interceptions. In three games he has thrown two interceptions or more this season, the Bears have three games of two interceptions or more this season. It would also be wise for the Bears secondary to disguise their coverage to bait the rookie quarterback into throws he thinks are clean.