After a week of uncertainty surrounding Justin Fields’ shoulder injury, the Chicago Bears will play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
The Bears have been trying to get away from the skid four games and have lost seven of eight overall.
With kick-off looming, here’s a sneak peek at the game.
Bears quarterback Trevor Siemian
With uncertainty surrounding Fields’ left shoulder injury, the Bears may be leaning toward giving Siemian an emergency start on Sunday. The offense has been ready for this possibility since the start of the week with players feeling confident they can adapt without too much trouble.
Yes, the Bears’ offensive style would look a lot different if they started with simians instead of fields.
Tight end Cole Kemet said, “I don’t know if Trevor is going to come out on any 65 yards. And he’s OK with me saying that. I mean, obviously (the offense) changes a little bit. They’re different types of players.”
With Fields starting the first 11 games and the Bears establishing a gritty identity, they have the #1 rushing 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 also died last in passing, averaging 128.1 yards per game through the air while allowing a league-high 40 sacks. (The Atlanta Falcons are the only other team with more rushing yards than net passing yards).
At the very least, it’ll be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Luke Getsy adapts the game plan with Siemian as his starter.
“I think that would be a very easy transition,” coach Matt Eberflus said earlier this week. “Trevor is clearly a very smart individual and a very good passer. He has a great understanding of the offense. He’s been here from day one (he has) a high functional intelligence.”
Kmit added, “He’s on his toes. He’s obviously been around the league, seen a lot of different things. He’s a smart guy.”
Having to make a midfield change – for whatever reason – is nothing new at Hallas Hall. Kumit, in his third season, has gone through seven quarterback changes per season over his career.
“I’m used to it,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s a good thing. You’re just learning to deal with it. You’re focused on your job and the things you need to take care of. … It’s part of the league and part of the situation you’re in.”
Can the Bears offense play against a top 10 defense?
Even if there was no question of Fields’ ability to play with a shoulder injury, the Jets defense would be a tough test for the Bears’ still-evolving offense.
“He’s probably one of the best defenses we’ve played this year,” said wide receiver Darnell Mooney.
The Jets only allow 310.5 yards and 18.6 points per game, both of which are in the top ten in the league. They totaled 32 sacks, led by eight by Quinn Williams and five by Carl Lawson. They had 14 takeaways, including 11 interceptions, which were led by three by LaMarcus Joyner.
“This seven front is the real deal,” said Jitsi. “That’s why they’ve been so successful this year.”
Wide receiver Dante Bettis played for the San Francisco 49ers when Jets coach Robert Salih was the defensive coordinator there and said he praised the scheme.
“Everyone knows where they’re supposed to fit the piece of the defense puzzle, and they play their roles well,” Bettis said. “They have a lot of good players in defence.”
Cornerback Sauce Gardner is a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate with two interceptions and 14 passes defensed. Fifth-year-old DJ Reed was second with seven assists.
“A rookie doesn’t play like a rookie,” Bettis said. “He’s got some really good moves and patience. And I’ve played with DJ, I’ve known him a little bit. He just keeps getting better. He’s never quit playing, so it’s always tough. You think you’ve got him hitting him, and he’ll come in at the last minute and get the ball out. So they’re players.” Good, and it’ll be fun.”
Jets quarterback Mike White
The Jets are dealing with their own quarterback mess this week after their No. 2 pick in 2021, Zack Wilson, completed just nine passes for 77 yards in a 10-3 loss to the New England Patriots last weekend.
White, a 2018 Dallas Cowboys fifth-round draft pick, will make his fourth career start Sunday. He started three games in 2021 when Wilson was injured, throwing for 405 yards in his first start in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
But the Jets lost their next two games under White, including a four-way interception performance in a 45-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Eberflus said the Bears should change their preparation for a different style of quarterback play.
“(Wilson) has the ability to get away — not to say Mike doesn’t,” Eberflus said. “(Wilson) can move around. He’s athletic. He can do goalkeeping, a lot of things on the edge of defence, where Mike is more adept at passing. He’s more of a pocket man.”
Saleh told reporters that the Jets intend to bring Wilson back to the field this season — but it won’t be Sunday. Joe Flacco would be the Jets’ backup with Wilson inactive.
“There are some basic, fundamental things that have gotten out of hand with[Wilson],” Saleh said. “This is just an opportunity for him to sit down and focus on those things and find a way to reconnect with all the different things that we loved during the draft process. It’s something I feel he’ll be able to do.”
The Bears have had a bad habit of giving away points lately as the opponents have scored on a return in each of their last four games.
It started with Micah Parsons’ 36-yard return score in the Dallas Cowboys’ 49-29 win in Week 8, a pivotal point that effectively stopped the Bears’ comeback attempt. The following week, Andrew Van Ginkel blocked a Trent Gill punt and returned it 25 yards for a score that put the Miami Dolphins ahead 21–10 in their eventual three-point victory.
In Week 10, the Detroit Lions’ Jeff Okuda came to the corner with a 20-yard interception tied with a TD return on Fields’ errant screen pass. Last week, former Bear Cordarelli Patterson touched a 103-yard touchdown catch, setting a new NFL record for career kickoff returns with his ninth.
“Obviously the guy made a play. But we’ve got some guys out of position,” Bears special coordinator Richard Hightower said. “We corrected that in the conference room. Obviously, we will not act as if it did not happen. We have to be better there.”
The Bears are now 1-6 this season in games decided by a single score. It doesn’t help that they’ve found ways to beat themselves up with costly mistakes that turn into downfalls the other way.
In addition to Fields’ injury, the Bears were once again without rookie defensive appearances Khaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon in practices Thursday. Both players remained in concussion protocol after suffering head injuries against the Falcons.
Of the four units in the field – Bears offense, defense, offense and Jets defense – New York’s defense is by far the best. The Jets have allowed an average of 14.2 points over the last six games. The Bears had a tough time tackling Giants defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence on his final trip to MetLife Stadium, and Jets defensive tackle Quinn Williams is an even bigger problem. The Jets have one of the best pass rushes in the league and rarely the blitz. Add it in and this is a tough game for the Bears.
Planes 20, Bears 13
Not the easiest prediction this week given the 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 should look good for the Bears defense. Meanwhile, what can we expect from the Bears offense with either Justin Fields injured or with Trevor Siemian as backup? What I do know is that the Jets’ defense should have the advantage in that game, so the Bears could be looking at their fifth straight loss.
Planes 24, Bears 20
Both teams have dealt with different versions of the quarterback fumble this week. However, the Bears offense will be affected more after Justin Fields injured his left shoulder in last week’s loss. Sadly, it looks like a winless November for Matt Eberflus’ team, who will still be competitive and feisty but still lack enough playmaking firepower out of the Fields to make it.
Planes 24, Bears 20