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Analysis Bears

To Beat Jets, Bears Will Have to Make Darnold Throw the Ball

The Chicago Bears will take on the New York Jets this Sunday at Soldier Field.

The Bears will go into this Sunday’s home game against the 3-4 Jets as 6 point favorites. A glance at New York media reports and fan forum rants shows that there are concerns about:

– Trubisky’s ability to either; pick apart their banged-up secondary, or beat them with his legs

Khalil Mack tearing holes through their patchwork offensive line

– The multitude of offensive weapons at Matt Nagy’s disposal

– The Jets growing injury report and lack of depth in key areas

– Whether or not their rookie QB’s (lack of) supporting cast will stunt his development

For a more detailed view of what the Bears will be up against in their second consecutive game at Soldier Field we take a look back at the Jets week 7,  a 37 – 17 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings:

New QB, a steep learning curve

Sam Darnold, the 3rd overall draft pick in 2018 did not have a good day at the office. In general, Darnold looks like he has the foundations of a solid pocket passer who stands strong in the face of pressure, can climb the pocket and has some mobility. He appeared to have a good grasp of the offense and also had some success on sneaks (including a score in the 4th quarter).

Darnold came out strong completing 6 of 9 passes for 1 TD. After that, it was a horror show as he went on to complete just 11 passes in 33 attempts throwing 3 interceptions in the process. He was off target on may throws and made some bad decisions trying to force the ball to heavily covered receivers.

Help? Anyone?

Darnold was affected by a wild snapping performance that, by comparison, made 2017 Cody Whitehair looked like a laser-guided missile. Bad snaps accounted for two Jets fumbles and constantly put Darnold in a hole to start plays. Center Spencer Long was dealing with multiple injuries and may not make the trip to Chicago.

The Jets’ receivers were completely anonymous, with the entire positional group combining for just 6 catches. Their biggest threat, Robby Anderson, consistently ran bad routes, looked disinterested and was easily muscled off the ball by the Vikings secondary.

The Jets running backs couldn’t get anything going either accounting for a combined 72 yards from 24 carries. Isaiah Crowell was injured in the game but should play on Sunday. Bilal Powell suffered a career-threatening neck injury in Sunday’s game – everyone at The Loop Sports wishes him well in his recovery.

Where’s your Defense? The NFC North…

The Jets “Sons of Anarchy” Defensive line are all now playing in the NFC North. The departures of Muhammad Wilkerson (Packers), Sheldon Richardson (Vikings via the Seahawks) and, in this week’s trade, Damon Harrison (Lions via the Giants) may have weakened the Jets’ defensive front but they’re still a force to be reckoned with. They only allowed the Vikings to convert 2 of 15 3rd down attempts and forced them to punt 8 times. They also managed to generate almost constant pressure off of Kirk Cousins right side – Bobby Massie may have his hands full on Sunday.

What the? Fox?

In what would’ve been good news for the 2015-17 Bears, the Vikings had a lot of success running stretch/outside zone concepts which accounted for the majority of Latavius Murray‘s 69 yards and both of his touchdowns. No, I do not advocate a return for John Fox.

Next man up?

The Jets’ secondary has been significantly weakened by injury. Cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Maye all missed the Vikings game through injury. Backup safety Doug Middleton is also done for the year with a torn pectoral he suffered in this game. Whilst it looks like Skrine will suit up again this Sunday, Morris Claiborne is now listed as questionable for the clash with the Bears. Kirk Cousins was able to efficiently, if not spectacularly, pick them apart as the Jets simply had too many holes to try and fill.

Special Teams woes

On close inspection, the Jets special teams may have had an even worse showing against the Vikings than the Bears did against the Patriots. The difference? It didn’t show up on the scoreboard.

Jets Kick and Punt return man, Andre Roberts was quick enough and elusive enough to give the Jets good field position on a couple of occasions. You may remember Roberts as the former Detroit Lion who ran a punt back 85 yards for a touchdown at Soldier Field in a Brian Hoyer lead Bears 17-14 win in 2016.

However, Roberts managed to; drop a punt which then bounced out of bounds, drop another punt on his own 6-yard line which he only just managed to recover, and fumble a kick return out of bounds. On top of this, Jets Punter Lachlan Edwards received a couple of very bad snaps, one of which he had to scoop off the turf before desperately hacking the ball away from his own end zone. Luck favored the Jets special teams who, on another day, could easily have given up four scores.

Blowout Win?

Despite the final score, this game was not out of the Jets’ grasp until late in the 4th Quarter as their Defense finally wore down. A near, end zone pick from Cousins with 5 minutes left to play, followed 30 seconds later, by an unlucky pick from Darnold (which bounced out of WR Charone Peake’s hands to the unsuspecting Trae Waynes), put this one beyond doubt for Vikings.

How the Bears can beat the Jets 

To get back to winning ways, the Bears will need to:

– Be less bad than the Jets on Special Teams

– Force the Jets to get one dimensional – they’ve lost every game in which Sam Darnold has had to attempt more than 30 passes

– Slow down the Jets pass rush and wear down their front. A heavy dose of Jordan Howard running between the tackles mixed in with the quick passing game will get the Bears off on the right foot.

Follow Matt on Twitter

Featured Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune 

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