The Chicago Bears will be looking to win their second road game in a row on Monday night when they tangle with the New York Jets in the Meadowlands, and before they hit the gridiron, we have three keys to victory for the Monsters of the Midway.
Take Advantage of One-on-One Battles on the Outside
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery still aren’t at 100 percent for the Bears, but they may have hit on the secret formula in last week’s win against the San Francisco 49’ers. In that game, the receivers originally tried to go on their normal deep routes, using their speed to gain an edge, but in the second half they made a noticeable adjustment.
More and more often, both receivers ran shorter routes, preventing safeties from coming over the top to help the 49’ers undersized corners. Marshall caught several touchdown passes in these one-on-one matchups, using his size and strength to gain an edge. Jeffery did the same thing, albeit with less success, but the fact remained that the duo still was able to contribute despite dealing with an ankle injury and a hamstring problem, respectively.
In this game against the Jets, the Bears are going to need to use the same tactic. Yes, the Jets will be able to gameplan for it after having watched film of the game, but stopping it is another thing entirely. The team’s pass defense is weak for a reason, and the Bears have got to take advantage of this size difference in this game.
Linebackers Must Stay Disciplined on Gap Assignments
In Week 1 of the season, Lance Briggs and Jon Bostic jumped out of their gaps on several occasions, falling into the old “chase the ball” routine instead of remaining disciplined. As a result, CJ Spiller, EJ Manuel, and Fred Jackson savaged the Bears for a huge rushing day, and the Bears lost the game.
In Week 2, things were significantly better. Briggs and company did a nice job of keeping Colin Kaepernick contained for the most part, and Frank Gore wasn’t able to gobble up the yards like the Buffalo Bills were.
In this game, the Bears will once again have to contend with a mobile quarterback and some solid running backs. Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory form an impressive tandem in the backfield for the Jets, and quarterback Geno Smith is the textbook definition of a “run first, pass second” signal caller. The Bears have got to make sure that they’re keeping him contained with an effective pass rush around the edges, and their tackle play will have to be spot on in order to make things simpler for the linebackers.
Isaiah Frey Must Step Up
The Jets don’t exactly have the deepest wide receiving corps in the world, and things could get even worse for them depending on whether or not Eric Decker is able to take the field against the Bears.
Even if he does, he will be limited in the game, and that means that Kyle Fuller and Tim Jennings are going to have to be sure to swallow him up. Losing Charles Tillman is a significant blow for the team, as it weakens the roster at the nickel back position. Forcing the Jets to attack the slot receiver is something that the Bears can do if their outside corners are playing effectively, and that means that Isaiah Frey will have to come into the lineup ready to play in this one.
If he can keep the Jets’ passing game contained on the inside portion of the field, it’s going to make their offensive strategy that much more difficult to execute.