After two disappointing losses in a row, the Bears got back on track Sunday vs the Jets at Soldier Field. It was not an exciting game to say the least, but the Bears did exactly what they needed to do and pulled out the win, 24-10. They ran the ball well, they played outstanding defense and they were able to close it out in the end.
Sunday morning the Bears announced that their star linebacker, Khalil Mack, would be sitting out of the day's game. He’s been nursing an ankle injury that he suffered two weeks ago in Miami and played through it last week. With the Jets being a below-average opponent, I think it was a good call to let Mack sit this one out. With Mack out, the rest of the defense needed to step up, and they sure did. They did not put a lot of pressure on Jets QB, Sam Darnold, but the secondary was very good in coverage with six pass deflections. Bryce Callahan had some big plays today, he finished with one sack and three of the six pass deflections. The Bears were absolutely DOMINANT against the run. The Jets leading rusher, Isaiah Crowell, had a paltry 25 yards on 13 carries. Akiem Hicks is continuing his career year. Even though his name didn’t show up much on the stat sheet, the big man up front was in on every play helping lead this defense today. It was an overall great day for the defense and it showed with the Bears forcing the Jets to go 3-and-out on six of their 11 possesions.
Jordan Howard finally got going on the ground again. It was his busiest day carrying the ball since week 3 in Arizona. He got 81 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. While that is not going to lead him back to the pro-bowl or make him a fantasy must-have, it is a welcoming sign for a guy who has not gotten it going to this point in the season. Tarik Cohen also was able to break off a couple of nice runs as he added 40 yards on the ground. It is not there yet, but it looks like it is getting better. Coach Nagy was proud of Jordan after the game. He has been preaching persistence for Howard, and today that persistence paid off. We can only hope it continues to pay off and in an even bigger way.
The Bears have held a lead in the fourth quarter of every game this season, except against New England, where they lost the lead in the third quarter. These past two weeks both Mitchell Trubisky and Coach Nagy have been talking about the Bears lack of a “killer instinct.” If it’s a close game in the second half they don’t want to sit on the ball and rely on the defense to close out the game, they want to go out there and keep scoring. Today, they were able to do just that. The Jets got within seven points with 11:10 left on the clock. On the ensuing drive the Bears marched down the field and scored a touchdown. The extra cushion took some pressure off the defense and they were able to close it out.
The Bears are back on the road next week as they head to Buffalo to face off against the Bills. The Bills are a team similar to the Jets, being that they have a young quarterback and aren’t really a good team. They go into next week with a 2-6 record and have an offense averaging under 11 points per game. This Bears defense should have a field day with the Bills offense. Hopefully the week of rest for Khalil Mack was enough to get his ankle healed, but frankly, if it wasn’t I don’t think the team would miss him too much. No game in the NFL is a sure bet, but this week might be as close as you can get to one. Bears 27, Bills 10.