FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jay Cutler showed last week he can take a hit and keep on chucking. The Chicago Bears quarterback took a speeding helmet to the chest, shook it off and rallied his team to a win over the San Francisco 49ers.
So, obviously, he can't be intimidated. Or can he?
No, the Jets' confidence wasn't dented by last week's woeful defensive performance against the Green Bay Packers. The Jets don't do meek, no matter how poorly they play. If anything, Aaron Rodgers' three-touchdown, 346-yard passing day may serve as a wake-up call for a defense that prides itself on bullying opponents.
On Monday night, they get a national stage to show their resilience.
"We feel like we have a point to prove, not just to our opponent, but to the rest of the league -- that we're a team to be reckoned with," linebacker Demario Davis said. "We know guys across the league are watching film and we want them to come in with a certain level of respect when they play us. That goes by the way we play. ... We want to be the best. We have to go out and prove it every week."
The Jets are No. 1 against the run, but their pass defense isn't scaring anyone. Rodgers' passing total was the third-highest allowed by the Jets under Ryan (we're talking 82 games) and Jordy Nelson's 209-yard receiving day was the most against a Ryan-coached defense.
Now here come Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Cutler is no Rodgers, but he might have the strongest arm in the league. If he has time in the pocket, he could light up the Jets' corners, Antonio Allen, Darrin Walls, Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson.
"He's still the gunslinger type of guy," Ryan said of Cutler. "He knows he can put it in a little window and he's confident. Prone to turnovers? I don't know. He's prone to throwing touchdowns and, obviously, making big plays. Sometimes there's a price for it, if you miss, but the guy is rare. He has rare physical abilities."
The pressure is on Ryan this week to fix his leaky secondary. It won't be easy, especially with Milliner (ankle) still less than 100 percent. Ryan isn't sure if Milliner is well enough to return to his starting role. Ryan is a creative defensive mind, so you can bet he'll try to cook up something. It wouldn't be a shock if you see an extra safety on the field, perhaps Josh Bush or Jaiquawn Jarrett, a bigger body to deal with Marshall (6-foot-4) and Jeffery (6-foot-3).
"You worry about Marshall, that's the No. 1 guy you worry about," Ryan said of the Bears' top receiver, who caught three touchdowns in last week's win over the 49ers.
Marshall (ankle) and Jeffery (hamstring) have been slowed by injuries, so maybe the Jets catch a break. It has to be better than last week, right? Under Ryan, the Jets are 4-3 after allowing a 300-yard passing day. Only once have they yielded 300-yard days in consecutive weeks. That happened last season, when Drew Brees threw for 366 yards one week after Andy Dalton's 323. Somehow, the Jets managed to beat Brees.
Now, they have Cutler in their sight.
"We're attacking the field with aggression this week," Davis said. "We're looking forward to Monday night."