After a week uncertainty surrounding quarterback Justin Fields’ shoulder injuryThe Chicago Bears will face the New York Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Bears are trying to recover from a four-match skid and have lost a total of seven out of eight.
As we get closer to kick-off, here’s our snapshot of the match.
1. The player in the spotlight
Bears quarterback Trevor Siemian
Given the uncertainty surrounding Fields’ left shoulder injury, the Bears may be leaning towards giving Siemian an emergency start on Sunday. The offensive has been preparing for this possibility since the beginning of the week, when players felt confident that they would be able to adapt without much problem.
Yes, the Bears’ offensive style will look completely different if Siemian starts instead of Fields.
Tight end Cole Kmet said, “I don’t know if Trevor will be jumping out of any 65-yard runs. And he doesn’t mind me saying that. I mean, of course (the att*ck) changes a bit. They’re different types of players.”
With Fields starting the first 11 games and the Bears establishing a running identity, they have the No. 1 offense in the NFL, averaging 197.9 yards per game on the ground, with Fields leading the team with 834 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. But the Bears are also last in passing, averaging 128.1 yards per game in the air while allowing 40 sacks at the highest level in the league. (The Atlanta Falcons are the only other team to have more rushing yards than net passing.)
At the very least, it would be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Luke Getsy adjusts the game plan with Siemian as a starter.
“I think it would be a pretty easy transition,” coach Matt Eberflus said earlier this week. “Trevor is obviously a very intelligent person and he passes very well. He has a great offensive sense. He’s been here since day one. (Has) high functional intelligence.
Kmet added: “He’s ready. Apparently he’s been in the league, he’s seen a lot of different things. He’s a smart guy.
Having to change quarterbacks – for whatever reason – is nothing new at Halas Hall. Kmet, in his third season, underwent seven quarterback changes during the season of his career.
“I’m used to it,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s good. You just learn to deal with it. You focus on your work and the things you need to do. … It’s part of the league and part of the situation you’re in.”
2. Urgent question
Can the Bears offensive play against the Jets’ top 10 defense?
Even if Fields’ ability to play with a shoulder injury were out of the question, the Jets’ defense would be a tough test for the Bears’ still-expanding offensive.
“Probably one of the best defenses we’ve played this year,” said winger Darnell Mooney.
The Jets allow just 310.5 yards and 18.6 points per game, both ranked in the top 10 in the league. They have a total of 32 sacks, led by eight for Quinnen Williams and five for Carl Lawson. They have 14 takeaways, including 11 steals, led by Lamarcus Joyner’s three-pointer.
“The top seven is the real deal,” said Getsy. “That’s why they’ve been so successful this year.”
Bears wide receiver Dante Pettis was playing for the San Francisco 49ers when Jets coach Robert Saleh was the defense coordinator there and said he approved of the plan.
“Everybody knows where they should fit in the defense puzzle piece and they just play their part well,” said Pettis. “They have a lot of good defensive players.
Cornerback Sauce Gardner is the Defensive Rookie of the Year with two interceptions and 14 pass saves. Fifth Year Cornerback DJ Reed is second with seven successful passes.
“A rookie doesn’t play like a rookie,” said Pettis. “He has really good footwork and good patience. And I played with a DJ, I know him a bit. It just keeps getting better. He never quits the game, so it’s always hard. You think you beat him and he comes in at the last minute and knocks the ball out. So they’re good players and it’s going to be fun.”
3. Keep an eye on…
Jets quarterback Mike White
The Jets are dealing with quarterback chaos of their own this week Benching 2021 No. 2 choose Zach Wilsonwho made just nine passes for 77 yards in a 10-3 loss to the New England Patriots last weekend.
Selected in the fifth round by the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, White will start his fourth career on Sunday. He started three games in 2021 when Wilson injured himself throwing for 405 yards in his first start in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
But the Jets lost the next two games under White, including four interceptions in a 45–17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Eberflus said the Bears need to change their preparations for the quarterback’s different style of play.
“(Wilson) has the ability to escape – not to say Mike doesn’t,” said Eberflus. “(Wilson) can move. He is an athlete. He can do a lot of things to goalkeepers on the edge of defense where Mike is really good at passing. He’s more of a pocket guy.
Saleh told Jets reporters they intend to bring Wilson back to the field this season – but it won’t be Sunday. Joe Flacco will be the Jets’ backup while Wilson is inactive.
“There are some basic fundamental things that really got out of hand (Wilson),” Saleh said. “It’s just an opportunity for him to sit down, focus on those things, and find a way to reconnect with the different things we fell in love with during the draft process. I feel he will be able to do it.”
4. Return Policy
The Bears have recently gotten into the bad habit of giving points as opponents have scored a touchdown return in each of their last four games.
It began with Micah Parsons’ 36-yard tally to win the Dallas Cowboys 49-29 in Week 8, which successfully stopped the Bears’ attempt to return. The following week, Andrew Van Ginkel blocked Trent Gill’s punt and flew 25 yards for a score that gave the Miami Dolphins a 21-10 lead and an eventual three-pointer win.
In Week 10, Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah ran into a draw with a 20-yard TD interception after Fields’ on-screen mis-pass. Last week, former Bear Cordarrelle Patterson flew 103 yards for a kickoff score, setting a new career NFL touchdown record with his ninth touchdown.
“Of course the guy made a good game. But we had a few guys who fell out of position,” said Bears special teams coordinator Richard Hightower. “We fixed it in the conference room. Of course, we’re not going to pretend it didn’t happen. We have to be better there.”
The Bears are now 1-6 in 1-0 matches. It doesn’t help that they’ve found ways to beat themselves with costly mistakes that turn into touchdowns going the other way.
5. Injury Report
Aside from Fields’ injury, the Bears were again without rookie defensive backs Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon for Thursday practice. Both players remain on the concussion protocol after suffering head injuries against the Falcons.
Brad Biggs (5-6)
Of the four units on the field – the Bears’ att*ck and defense and the Jets’ att*ck and defense – New York’s defense is by far the best. The Jets have averaged 14.2 points in the last six games. The Bears had a hard time dealing with Giants defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence on their recent trip to MetLife Stadium, and Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is an even bigger problem. The Jets have one of the best passing in the league and rarely att*ck. Add that and it’s a tough matchup for the Bears.
Jets 20, Bears 13
Colleen Kane (6-5)
It’s not the easiest prediction this week given quarterback turmoil on both sides. No one can be sure what the Jets will get from Mike White in his fourth career start, but his eight interceptions in four games last season must look good for the Bears’ defense. In the meantime, what can we expect from the Bears’ att*ck, whether with an injured Justin Fields or a backup Trevor Siemian? All I know is that the Jets defense should have the upper hand in this matchup, so the Bears may be looking at their fifth loss in a row.
Jets 24, bears 20
Dan Wiederer (6-5)
Both teams have been dealing with different versions of quarterback turbulence this week. However, the Bears’ offense appears to be hit harder after Justin Fields injured his left shoulder in last week’s loss. Unfortunately, it looks like a winless November for Matt Eberflus’ team, who will remain competitive and feisty but still lack enough firepower outside Fields to do so.
Jets 24, bears 20
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