Durkin's Preview: Jets Pose Physical Challenge For Bears
By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) Stylistically, there may not be a pair of NFL head coaches with more contrasting styles than the Bears' Marc Trestman and Jets' Rex Ryan. Trestman is docile and thoughtful with the media and stoic on the sidelines. Ryan, on the other hand, is brash and outspoken with the media and fiery on the sidelines.
However, when it comes to applying their craft on the field, the results they get speak for themselves. Entering Week 3, Trestman's Bears led the league with six touchdown passes and Ryan's Jets are the league's best against the run.
Both of these teams sit at 1-1 heading into Monday's contest (7:30 p.m., ESPN), but they do so in different emotional states. The Bears fought back from a 17-0 deficit to stun the 49ers on the road in an improbable 28-20 comeback. While the Jets are reeling from their 31-24 loss to the Packers, in which they jumped out to a 21-3 lead.
Theoretically, it will be strength-on-strength when the Bears have the ball. But in reality, the Bears are a pass-first team (70 percent) with numerous weapons matched up against a patchwork Jets secondary.
Durkin: 5 Matchups To Watch In Bears-Jets
Through two games, opposing quarterbacks have averaged a 100 passer rating against the Jets, who feature a young group that can be overly aggressive at times, making them susceptible to double moves.
Last week, Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson -- who is a big-bodied target similar to Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery -- torched the Jets for 209 yards. Nelson repeatedly ate up the cornerback's cushion and shielded them from the ball on slants and curls, until he broke an 80-yard touchdown late in the third quarter on an out-and-up.
If the Bears can protect quarterback Jay Cutler from the bevy of blitzes Ryan likes to deploy, it could be a big night for the Chicago offense. Look for the Bears to have some packaged reads and short drops for Cutler to make checks and adjustments based on presnap looks.
When a team calls maximum blitzes as frequently as the Jets do, there are opportunities for big plays to be made over the middle of the field, Trestman said.
"The thing that the Jets do is they'll show it and then they'll drop people out," Trestman said. "They'll show it and bring it. They'll show it and play different kind of coverages behind it. So they're very, very good at mixing it up and not tipping what they're going to do prior to the snap. There's always going to be big-play ability when you leave the middle of the field open."
An area the Bears need to improve is their run game, which was non-existent against the 49ers, but this may not be the week for it. Buoyed by their dominant and dynamic defensive front, led by former first-round picks Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, the Jets are yielding on average a mere 52 rushing yards per game. Trestman has shown he's not going to call a balanced game if his team isn't moving the ball on the ground.
Unlike the 49ers, who abandoned the run last week, the Jets will pound away at the Bears defensive front with outside and inside zone plays, zone read, power and lead plays. While the Bears defense showed improvement last week against the 49ers, they're still a far from proven as a run defense.
Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson have combined to lead the league in rushing, averaging 179 yards per game. Ivory is an aggressive north-south runner, while Johnson provides more speed to the perimeter.
The Jets will run the ball to both play keep-away from the Bears offense and protect a passing game that lacks weapons and has a still-developing quarterback in Geno Smith pulling the trigger.
Smith has shown improvements from his rookie campaign, but he's still a work in progress. He can be sloppy with his footwork, slow to recognize coverages and has a tendency to throw contested routes.
Both of these teams are dealing with injuries to key players. The Bears will be playing without defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion), whose presence on the interior will be missed against the Jets running game. The Jets may be playing the game without wide receiver Eric Decker (hamstring), which would further deplete a team that already lacks playmakers in the passing game.
Playing on the road is never easy in the NFL, but the Bears are the more talented team. If Cutler is kept clean in the pocket and the Bears defense can keep Smith in the pocket, Chicago should notch its second road victory of the young season.
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.
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