Bears vs. Jets preview

The Chicago Bears are coming off one of their best wins in recent memory; the New York Jets are trying to rebound from one of their worst losses -- ever.

Monday night's nonconference matchup at MetLife Stadium will be a fascinating study in how the teams -- both 1-1 -- handle extreme highs and lows. The Bears rallied from a 17-0 deficit to stun the San Francisco 49ers on the road 28-20. The Jets blew a 21-3 lead and fell to the Bears' top rival, the Green Bay Packers, 31-24.

The Jets and Bears are different on so many levels. The Jets like to play the game in the trenches, and they play it well. They lead the NFL in rushing offense and rushing defense, becoming the first team since the 2007 Minnesota Vikings to lead those categories in the same week. The Bears struggle in those areas (30th and 27th, respectively), preferring to play the game on the perimeter with Jay Cutler throwing to a talented group of receivers.

ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini and ESPN Bears reporter Michael C. Wright discuss the matchup:

Cimini: Obviously, there is a lot of interest in receiver Santonio Holmes. How is he fitting in with the offense and, given his diva reputation in New York, is he behaving in the locker room?

Wright: Rich, the first week Holmes was here, I spent about an hour speaking with him one day after practice and we touched on his tumultuous tenure with the Jets. He seems to be genuine, and says that is probably what got him into trouble some in New York. From what I've seen of Holmes, though, he is a fairly quiet guy who seems to prefer to be alone. He understands the current situation is a tremendous opportunity; he wants to prove that he still possesses the skills to be an effective player and that he can be a person his coaches and teammates can depend on. He has been good in the locker room, sharing his knowledge and experiences with younger receivers.

Holmes is still learning the nuances of Chicago's system, which he said is similar to what the Jets ran during his tenure, and he is spending time after practice with receivers coach Mike Groh, learning the ropes. It appears he is becoming more comfortable with the offense, and I anticipate his role growing as the team moves forward.

Turning to the Jets, it seems there has been quite a bit of fallout over the timeout that negated what should have been the game-tying touchdown against the Packers. In a situation like that, a lot of blame can be thrown around. How are the Jets handling that, and have they done anything moving forward to eliminate another miscommunication?

Cimini: Sheldon Richardson and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have each taken responsibility for the costly, ill-timed timeout, truly one of the biggest gaffes in Jets history. In my opinion, it was a perfect storm, meaning a whole lot of bad stuff happened at the same time. Obviously, they learned a hard lesson. If they didn't know it already, the players on the sideline know they should stay out of the "timeout" business.

In terms of communication between the coaches, nothing will change, according to Rex Ryan. He feels confident the right system is in place. He and Mornhinweg communicate during the game via the headset and, if Ryan is on the defensive channel and can't hear Mornhinweg (which happened Sunday), he will get the message from someone in the coaches' booth. They feel last Sunday was an aberration.

It overshadowed the biggest concern -- the pass defense. Do you think the Bears will try to have more balance offensively, or will they let Cutler attack the Jets' suspect secondary?

Wright: That depends on whether the Bears can be effective against the Jets' stingy run defense. Chicago has run the ball 35 times and passed 83 times this season. Against a defense like the Jets' -- regardless of the issues in their secondary -- that will get you beat. If Chicago can't show a semblance of a rushing attack, the offense becomes one-dimensional, which would allow the Jets to dial up the pressure on Cutler.

So the Bears definitely want to keep the Jets guessing. But as you mentioned, they will also want to attack with their huge receivers (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery) on the outside, and also utilize tight end Martellus Bennett down the seams. The Bears will definitely try to test New York's run defense early. But if they don't achieve any success, my guess is they will go heavy with the aerial attack.

Speaking of offense, New York seemed to be rolling early in the game against the Packers, scoring touchdowns on each of the first three drives. But in the last nine drives, the Jets came up with only a field goal. What is the team’s explanation for what happened?

Cimini: Get a load of this stat, Michael: The Jets scored 14 points in the first quarter for the first time since 2009. That is what you call a rare early explosion. They built the 21-3 lead with a run-heavy approach (18 runs, 10 passes), using a variety of schemes that kept the Packers off balance. The Packers adjusted and the Jets got away from the run, with a run-pass ratio of 16-26 over the final nine drives. I think the Jets got a little caught up in trying to keep pace with Rodgers, and it took them out of their comfort zone.

This week, there will be a renewed emphasis on the running game. Even though they ran for 146 yards, they weren't happy at all. The uncertain status of wide receiver Eric Decker (hamstring) makes the running game even more important. At the same time, they are trying to achieve more balance in the passing game. It has been a two-man show, Decker and Jeremy Kerley, and some of the players have approached Mornhinweg about trying to spread the ball around.

Statistically, the Bears' run defense stinks. How do you think it will fare against the Jets' run-heavy attack?

Wright: In the opener, Chicago gave up 193 yards to the Bills on the ground -- but 85 came on two runs. Most of their issues against the run have been execution, and that is more acceptable than players simply being dominated physically. That is why the Bears weren't overly concerned with their performance in the opener. There were one or two occasions in which a player tried to do more than his own job. That resulted in the player jumping out of his gap, and a big gain followed. The Bears cleaned that up against the 49ers in Week 2, and I anticipate them being a tad better against the Jets. That doesn't mean the Bears will stop them. But I think they will allow fewer than the 4.8 yards per attempt they gave up last week.

There have been lots of Jets penalties so far. How have the flags affected this team's effectiveness, and do you think this speaks to an issue of immaturity or lack of discipline that can ultimately undermine the Jets?

Cimini: The Jets have been called for 22 penalties (four declined), but who's counting? That total includes two roughing-the-passer penalties and two unsportsmanlike conduct calls, one of which resulted in the ejection of Muhammad Wilkerson. Yeah, there is a lack of maturity at times. The Jets are a relatively young team, and those young players tend to lose their poise. Some of it falls on Ryan, who is anything but a no-nonsense disciplinarian. He gives the players their space, and sometimes things get loosey-goosey, but they appreciate his player-friendly approach and they play hard for him. That is the tradeoff.

Obviously, they have to clean it up or they will lose a lot of close games. Teams with middling talent, such as the Jets, don't have a huge margin for error.