Jets vs. Bears: Scouting the enemy of Week 8
Heading into Week 8, the New York Jets hit the road for a matchup against the Chicago Bears. Here’s scouting the enemy with Bear Goggles On.
At 3-4 so far this season, the New York Jets have yet to find their identity. They’ve experienced some highs and a whole lot of lows as they face yet another test in Week 8. They’ll be on the road against a tough Chicago Bears team that wants to prove they can be contenders in front of their home crowd.
I recently sat with Mike Burzawa of Bear Goggles On to scout the enemy this week as the Bears will undoubtedly bring everything they got to end their current two-game losing streak. Here is our sit-down in its entirety as to what the Jets can expect come game time:
LTJ: How has Mitchell Trubisky been so far in his sophomore season? Is he living up to expectations or is patience still needed?
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MB: Mitch is going through a fairly typical development curve. I’m sure Jets fans will track the same kind of development with Sam Darnold. There are some really good moments that let you see why the Bears invested the second overall pick on him and there are facepalm mistakes that make you want to throw something at the TV.
I think Mitch has made tremendous progress over his Week 1 performance against the Packers, but you can see that he’s leaving a lot of points on the field. He missed some wide open throws against the Patriots last week. He’s been flashing his ability on the ground as well, which has been a nice bonus as many Bears fans didn’t think he had that sort of speed and athleticism.
Patience is definitely required, especially for Bears fans as we haven’t had to deal with the development of a high draft pick in a long time.
LTJ: What exactly has caused all the struggles on offense for the Bears when it comes to their rushing attack?
MB: That’s a great question that’s been vexing Bears fans as well. The formula would seem to be in place. You’ve got the workhorse back Jordan Howard, who had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. You’ve got a great complimentary back in Tarik Cohen who has the ability and speed to take it to the house on any play. Add to that an offensive line returning four starters and investing a second round pick to fill the vacated spot.
Add to that the coaching changes, bringing in an offensive minded coach who can scheme creative plays out of any formation. They implemented the RPO (Run Pass Option) which should allow them to adjust as the play is unfolding to either stick in Howard’s belly or let Trubisky throw. Lastly, the Bears brought back one of the top offensive line coaches in the game in Harry Heistand.
The pieces would seem to be in place, but it just hasn’t been happening for the Bears. Part of it is learning the new system, which is certainly more pass-oriented. Second, game scripts haven’t always dictated the Bears to run.
I think the Bears will rely on the running game more as the weather turns and the offense starts to settle down. I’m actually hoping it starts on Sunday against the Jets.
LTJ: Who is the best offensive playmaker for the Bears that the Jets defense should be worried about?
MB: That’s a really tough question to answer since the Bears are loaded with playmakers this season. On the downside, Allen Robinson is hurting with a groin injury that caused him to miss the tail end of the Patriots game and also miss practice most of this week, ending up as Questionable on the injury report.
To help fill in for Robinson, look for rookie Anthony Miller to try to step up. He’s flashed a bit this season but hasn’t had that big breakout game. He’s drawn comparisons to Steve Smith as a tough slot receiver who grinds for yardage.
I also like tight end Trey Burton to have an impact on Sunday. He had the first 100-yard receiving game by a Bears tight end since Mike Ditka. Burton fills the role as a “move” tight end, so he’s not as much of a bruiser, but he’s got great speed and hands to match that has made him a nice option for Mitch Trubisky.
LTJ: Are the Bears looking like a playoff contender this season or is there still a lot of work left to be done?
MB: It’s been a roller coaster this season. When the dust settled on the first four games, the Bears found themselves 3-1 and alone atop the NFC North. Fans were definitely thinking playoffs. Coming off their Week 5 bye, the Bears have laid a couple of eggs; first withering in the south Florida sun as the Dolphins outlasted them and then getting bested by Tom Brady and the Patriots. In a matter of two weeks, the Bears went from a projected #2 seed in the NFC to the “in the hunt” teams on the outside looking in.
The Bears offense is still a work in progress and some growing pains are expected, but it’s been the defense that has disappointed in the last couple of weeks. They allowed way too many YAC yards and have not been putting opposing ballcarriers on the ground. Since Khalil Mack injured his ankle early in the Dolphins game, the pass rush has not stepped up. If the Bears want to right the ship, they need to do so on the defensive side of the ball.
LTJ: Final score and MVP?
MB: I think the Bears defense gets the best of Sam Darnold and the offense gets Jordan Howard going as the forecast calls for rain on Sunday. I like Howard to top the 100-yard mark and get two scores as the Bears win 24-16.