Four Downs: Keys to beating the Jets (12/26/10)

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A look at four keys for the Bears to beat this week’s opponent.

1. Get rid of the ball quickly
The Jets have one of the most innovative defenses today which has served them well. Despite an awful quarterback, they are winning games with the No. 5 defense and No. 6 run game. They run a version of the “amoeba” defense, which is when no defender — or less than the normal three or four — puts his hand on the ground before the snap. The idea behind the scheme is that the offense won’t know where the defense is coming from and the offensive line won’t know which defender to block. It’s been referred to as “controlled chaos” because it looks like the defense is confused or is playing sandlot ball. It can be a very dangerous defense, though, especially for an offensive line that has had struggles all season. The Bears need to utilize a quick-passing attack to prevent the Jets from sending the house all game. For that to work, though, the receivers need to be on the same page as Jay Cutler.

2. Confuse Mark Sanchez
Mark Sanchez is a bad quarterback. Period. Terry Bradshaw included him, and not Jay Cutler, on his “Top 10 Quarterbacks Under the Age of 30” list that he unveiled on FOX NFL Sunday a few weeks ago. It makes you wonder if Bradshaw took too many hits to the head as a quarterback himself. Sanchez is the No. 1 reason why the Jets won’t win the Super Bowl — now, or in any year in the foreseeable future. He’s ranked No. 28 in passer rating with a mark of 74.6. He’s got a completion percentage of just 54.0, which ranks him No. 30. He has thrown just 16 touchdown passes compared to 12 interceptions. On top of everything else, Sanchez is battling a sore shoulder that he injured last week against Pittsburgh. The best way for the Bears to defeat the Jets is to knock around Sanchez, confuse him by sending pressure from different areas and take away the football.

3. Jump out to an early lead to neutralize the run
Continuing from the previous key, the Bears would prefer to let Sanchez throw the football and to take the ball out of the hands of running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, who anchor the sixth-best rushing offense in the league. In order to do that, the Bears need force the Jets to play from behind and also stifle the run game early. Scoring won’t be easy, though. The Jets have the No. 5 scoring defense and are allowing just 18.5 points per game. This could be a game in which the defense scores and that would certainly go a long way towards putting the ball in Sanchez’s hands.

4. Win the turnover margin
The Bears defense failed to record a takeaway against either the Lions or the Patriots before picking up five against the Vikings last week. There’s a reason Lovie Smith preaches takeaways and that’s because turnovers usually tell the tale of which team will win the game. The Jets are ranked No. 8 in the league with a plus-5 turnover ratio, so the Bears need to protect the football on offense to prevent placing any further burden on the defense to record takeaways. The Jets are hardly offensive juggernauts — they rank just one spot ahead of the Bears’ offense, averaging 21.1 points per game — so it’s not as if turning over the ball will automatically lead to points for New York. But it is one less possession the offense will have at scoring on a good Jets defense.

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