Jonathan Hughes is a die hard New York Jets fan. On Sunday, as the Jets sprinted ahead of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, I sent him a text message.
Jeff: J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!
Jon: Best start in ten years. Both sides of ball.
I haven’t spoken to Jon since.
Now the Bears travel to the New Jersey swamplands, in the shadows of my hometown, smells that define my childhood, air pollution that will inevitably land me at Sloan Kettering.
Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.
- Jets may field their worst collection of corners in recent memory. Antonio Allen vs. Alshon Jeffery? Self-proclaimed great corner but actually terrible player Dee Milliner vs. Brandon Marshall? Hell, Darrin Walls or Kyle Wilson will struggle with a motivated Santonio Holmes. (Not to mention Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte will be a nightmare for the Jets in the passing game.) Once the Packers realized the Jets had no chance to cover their wide receivers they went on the attack and were borderline unstoppable. If I’m the Bears my approach from the onset is getting the ball in the hands of the weapons on the outside and forcing the Jets corners to make plays.
- Jets will approach this game by believing they can run the football right up the gut of the Bears defense – especially if Jeremiah Ratliff is inactive with a concussion – and they’ll give that game plan ample time. Chris Johnson was their high profile acquisition this off-season but Chris Ivory has been the far more productive back and I expect them to test Jon Bostic’s gap discipline all night long. Bears had a few breaks Sunday night, causing their run defense to look better than it actually was.
- Rex Ryan is considered by many to be the most dynamic blitz schemer in the NFL and I don’t have the time or wherewithal to dispute that opinion. You know they’re coming. And you know they’re coming from every direction. But when Ryan blitzes he often either (a) leaves his corners on an island or (b) puts his safeties (Dawan Landry, Calvin Pryor) in the uncomfortable position of either defending over the top or covering tight ends they have business being matched up against. When Ryan’s group doesn’t hit Cutler, Cutler will rip them to shreds.
- Here’s a player to be concerned about: Jeremy Kerley. Kerley is a natural slot receiver and a big-play target for Geno Smith. (Ignore his stats to this point. Kerley should have two more touchdowns and about sixty more yards.) It seems the Bears are sliding Tim Jennings back outside and bringing Isaiah Frey off the practice squad to play the slot. Couple that with a possibly ailing Chris Conte replaced by Brock Vereen and the Bears may find themselves susceptible to what I believe is the Jets scariest outside weapon. (And yes he’s scarier than Eric Decker. I’ve watched every snap of Jets football this season. Decker is a pedestrian “number one” nursing a hamstring injury.)
- My theory on the 2014 season is that penalty yards are going to be one of the most telling statistics. If games continue to be called as they have been, PY could start to challenge turnovers at the top of the totem. The Bears have been penalized for 101 yards over two games – a great many of those on special teams. The Jets have been penalized for 187 yards – many of those coming from lapses in player discipline and struggles in the secondary. An 86-yard discrepancy in penalty yards over two weeks is severe.
A THOUGHT ON MEL TUCKER
Early in the week I mentioned some information on Twitter. The Bears have gone into the half of both their games this season down 17-7. In both of those contests they allowed only three second half points. Three. For years Bears fans ripped Lovie Smith for his failure to make halftime adjustments. Shouldn’t defensive coordinator Mel Tucker be celebrated for these dramatic turnarounds?
And while I understand Tucker and the organization built a wonderful defensive coaching staff, Tucker still receives credit for the seeming improvement of Shea McClellin and Jon Bostic at linebacker. He still receives credit for Willie Young’s production through two games. (Young had three sacks all of last year.) And since Lovie was honored as the King of the Turnover during his tenure in Chicago, shouldn’t Tucker receive ample praise for what happened in the second half Sunday night?
Some of these answers are not black and white. There’s a ton of gray. But one thing is certain. In no way can anyone argue Tucker hasn’t had a terrific opening to the 2014 season.
THE JETS PLAY IN NEW JERSEY
And if you want to hear a speech that gets to the core of what it means to be from New Jersey, watch this:
BEARS FAN TRAVELING TO NJ NOTE!
The two best hot dogs I’ve had in my life are in Chicago (probably Hot Doug’s but I also love Weiner’s Circle and half a dozen other joints) and in New Jersey. If you’re coming to NYC/NJ for the game this Monday you will regret not journeying to Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ. Here’s a video describing the place:
And it is not some crazy journey from MetLife. It is a few miles down a single road.
…trends to not continue for quarterbacks playing the Jets. Derek Carr completed 62.5% of his passes against them. Aaron Rodgers completed 59.5% of his passes. Jay Cutler will play to his numbers this season and complete far closer to 70% against a Jets secondary his receivers, if a bit healthier, should dominate.
I DON’T EXPECT…
…the Bears to kick their run game into high gear Monday night. The Jets defensive line is better than the line the Bears faced in San Francisco, with Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson being the best young defensive tackles in the sport.
A FEW RELEVANT LINKS
A piece detailing the influence of Buddy Ryan on his sons and Browns coach Mike Pettine by Tom Reed of Cleveland.com.
With the Bears proving susceptible to read option runs over the last year and a half, might the Jets go back to these “gimmick” plays using Michael Vick?
Where the Giants and Jets play football may soon become an American gambling mecca. “Spurred by recent signals from Trenton that the state might be ready to end Atlantic City’s gaming monopoly, the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday unveiled a “vision plan” for the Sports Complex that includes casino gambling, as well as a convention center and two hotels.” Read the full story by clicking here.
GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS (EXCEPT YOU KNOW ME)
0-2 through two games after missing the o/u last week by a half point.
Paddy Power is setting the Jets total points over/under at 24. Considering the Bills and Niners offense are both better and the Bears defense is coming in with some momentum, Jets don’t get there.
In four parts…
Part I. Bears will commit to the run early but struggle to muster much of anything.
Part II. Faced with some long yardages, Rex will force Cutler to dump the ball off or toss the ball quickly out to his receivers and Bennett in the flat.
Part III. Coming out of the half, the Bears will load up their protections and exploit the receiver/defensive back mismatch.
Part IV. The defense will do what it’s done – let the Jets move the ball and hunker down in the red zone, forcing them to kick field goals.
Chicago Bears 26, New York Jets 19