Make sure you pop over to Windy City Gridiron to get the Bears view ahead of tonight's game and to read my answers to five questions they have regarding the Jets, this will be posted at some point before the game.
1) How important is it to the Bears passing game that the running game gets going to ensure teams have to commit to putting men in the box?
This is weird to say because it feels counter-intuitive, but I guess I'd say it's not that important. The Bears kind of do it in the reverse, and will use the passing game to force guys out of the box, whether that's through targeting single coverages on the outside, or using Forte out of backfield. Chicago hasn't had a ton of success running the ball so far this year, but have played well enough to move the ball around even without it. In a perfect world, the Trestman offense would like to be explosive enough to get points on the board early, open up the line a bit, and allow Forte to wear the defense down late in the game.
2) The Bears like the Jets, used to have a very feared defense. However like the Jets, they haven't quite been at that elite level recently. How are the Bears looking defensively this year and do you see this current crop of players becoming an elite unit?
They're looking...better, I guess, though that's kind of subjective. They're currently tied for last in the league in rushing defense with the Jaguars, but that's due to the huge miscues they had against the Bills, plus the extra quarter. They held the 49ers to 127 rushing yards, so that's slowly getting better.
The Bears defense doesn't always handle misdirection plays real well, and they've had the misfortune of playing mobile quarterbacks in their first three weeks (Manuel, Kaepernick, and now Smith). Hopefully they're picking that up. The pass rush is slowly improving, and they also were able to increase turnovers dramatically last week containing Kaep enough to bait him into some mistakes that were the difference maker.
Will this group be elite? No, probably not, but if the offense can continue to perform at a high level, they don't need to. It feels weird as a fan of the Bears to have to accept that they might give up 3 or 4 touchdowns per game, but as I watch highlight catches from Jeffery and Marshall I can kinda see what all these other fans of football were feeling over the last decade.
3) I always consider Jay Cutler to be a frustrating QB, what needs to happen for him to have a great game and what forces him into poor throws, is he mentally still a little vulnerable or has he grown up since joining the Bears?
Jay Cutler has grown up quite a bit, and part of it has simply come from that side of the ball finally having some success. There are actual other football players on the field, from those standing in front of him, to those who are the targets of his throws. A generally great game from Cutler is usually the result of him not facing a ton of pressure. If he gets pressured or stops feeling confidence in those around him, that's when you'll see him start to move around and make questionable throws like the ones he made against Buffalo in week 1.
And it's understandable. Cutler spent the first years in Chicago just being hit, and hit, and hit. Even last week, he took a helmet directly to the breadbox from Quinton Dial, but instead of getting rattled, it lit something in him and he was lights out. That's the Jay Cutler we've always seen potential for, and this season leaves few excuses for him to not do it consistently.
4) If you are game planning against the Bears, where do you attack them on defense and where do you attack them on offense?
On defense, I'd attack with a lot of misdirection/read option plays, and force them to prove they can stop it. (Protip: that could be a while.) Doing so will open up the play action pass out of those same formations, which means they'll be able to test rookie corner Kyle Fuller (taking over after Charles Tillman's season-ending injury), or recently returned nickelback Isiah Frey.
On offense, I'd attack rookie left guard Michael Ola, who is filling in for the injured Matt Slauson, and also work pretty hard on 2nd year RT Jordan Mills. Overload those gaps and see if you can get Cutler rattled early. I would also be concerned about leaving either Jeffery or Marshall in single coverage against the Jets secondary, but if you're going to be sending add'l linebackers, you hope like hell that they get there quick.
5) If you could take one Jets player and put him on the Bears roster, who would it be any why?
I lie Muhammad Wilkerson, who had a hell of a season last year. That could be biased of course, by the absolute lack of defense I've been watching for a while. I like the pressure he can get, and with his background of having played both 4-3 and 3-4 I think he could fit well into the Bears, or most other, defensive lines.
* Finally, can we have a score prediction.
27-24 Bears. I think the Bears win it late after some early struggles to adjust.