The Chicago Bears are coming off another tough loss. For the second week in a row, the Bears have played poorly and still led the game by 10 or more points, only to see the game slip away. The good news is that the Bears have been relatively healthy this season and we should see Khalil Mack play again this weekend, but his effectiveness is unknown.
On the other side of the field, the New York Jets are kind of the opposite. They are basically the 2017 Bears but with more established talent on both sides of the ball. This is a game that the Bears should win, but the way this season has played out, that isn’t a guarantee. The keys to winning this game are going to come down to the key players, as it usually does. Since we can’t really watch coaches, I am not listing them here, but I will keep a close eye on how Matt Nagy and Vic Fangio call their respective sides of the ball.
Here is my list of players to keep an eye on Sunday afternoon.
Who to Watch
Mitch Trubisky: After a difficult performance last week accuracy-wise, I am looking to see how Trubisky responds. The Jets secondary is banged-up, and their interception numbers are inflated by a 5-interception game against the Lions on the opening week of the season. Look for Nagy to get Trubisky into a rhythm early with short throws, but I expect him to take his shots downfield, as usual. The Jets play a lot of man, so picks, crossing routes, and double-moves will be the keys to success in the passing game.
Jordan Howard: I mentioned in the previous article that Nagy blamed his scheme for the trouble with rushing the football. If he does make the change back to what has worked in the past for this offense, I expect to see Howard finally breakout and have a huge game. Granted, this is dependent upon them making some changes, otherwise, I think it’s more of the same.
Khalil Mack: How is Mack’s ankle? That is the most important question on defense until further notice. If Mack is feeling good and ready to play like he did early on, then this defense should put rookie quarterback Sam Darnold in some rough situations. The young passer will turn the ball over if the pass rush is there to disturb him. Other players will need to step up, but Mack is the straw that stirs the drink on this Bears defense.
Roquan Smith: Smith inexplicably played roughly half the game last week. I have no idea what Fangio was thinking, but Smith is by far the Bears best coverage linebacker and his services will be required on Sunday. Prior to the Patriots game, Smith had his best game as a pro down in Miami. Look for him to continue to take steps towards showing why the Bears took him with the 8th overall pick, but he will need to be on the field for that to happen.
What are your thoughts? Which Bears players are you keeping an eye on this Sunday afternoon against the Jets?
Stay tuned for my Three Keys to the Game tomorrow morning and in case you missed it, here is my What to Watch For from earlier today.