Losses have Bears in more fa­mil­iar spot with Jets up next

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Nfl -

LAKE FOR­EST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears were rid­ing high, star­ing down at the rest of the NFC North for the first time in five years.

They’re in more fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory. And it’s not a place they want to stay.

The Bears look to get back to win­ning af­ter backto-back losses when they host the banged-up New York Jets on Sun­day.

“No one past game dic­tates our sea­son, no game com­ing up is go­ing to dic­tate our sea­son,” quar­ter­back Mitchell Tru­bisky said. “We have the same at­ti­tude go­ing every week, and I guess the last cou­ple of weeks be­cause we’ve been 0-2, I think we’re even hun­grier. I know I’m just (ex­cited) to get back to work and get back into that win col­umn.”

Fall­ing be­low .500 would be a ma­jor let­down con­sid­er­ing where the Bears (3-3) were just a few weeks ago.

They won three straight and took sole pos­ses­sion of the di­vi­sion lead for the first time since 2013 af­ter four con­sec­u­tive last-place fin­ishes. But they’ve dropped two in a row since their bye, fall­ing in over­time at Mi­ami and by seven at home to New Eng­land last week. The losses left Chicago look­ing up at Min­nesota and Green Bay and tied with Detroit in the NFC North.

Tru­bisky, who passed for six touch­downs against Tampa Bay be­fore the bye, was 26 of 50 for 333 yards against New Eng­land. He threw two TDs and two in­ter­cep­tions.

The Jets (3-4) are try­ing to avoid a re­peat of last sea­son, when they fin­ished 5-11 for the sec­ond year in a row. They were 3-4 a year ago, and they see this game as a mea­sur­ing stick.

It would help if they got more from quar­ter­back Sam Darnold. The No. 3 over­all draft pick leads the league with 10 in­ter­cep­tions to go with one of the NFL’s worst com­ple­tion per­cent­ages (56.1) and passer rat­ings (74.3). The for­mer USC star was picked off three times last week against Min­nesota in his worst game as a pro.

“Con­fi­dence is fine,” Darnold said. “I’m never re­ally shaken at all, but it’s just an ex­pe­ri­ence that I’ve got to learn from.”

Here are some things to know as the Bears and Jets try to get back to win­ning:

FIT­TING IN

With in­juries to Quincy Enunwa (sprained an­kle) and Ter­relle Pryor (groin, re­leased with in­jury set­tle­ment), the Jets were in dire need of depth at wide re­ceiver. They signed for­mer Ti­tans star Rishard Matthews on Tues­day.

Matthews had asked to be traded or re­leased by Ten­nessee be­cause he didn’t like his role in the Ti­tans’ of­fense. He was re­leased last month, and now could find him­self a valu­able part of the Jets’ of­fense Sun­day.

Matthews has 228 catches for 3,147 yards and 21 touch­downs in six-plus sea­sons with Ten­nessee and Mi­ami.

DOM­I­NANT ‘D’ TO STRUG­GLING ‘D’

With 69 points al­lowed and just one sack over the past two games, the Bears’ de­fense is tak­ing a beat­ing af­ter dom­i­nat­ing the first four weeks.

It doesn’t help that out­side line­backer Khalil Mack play­ing through an an­kle in­jury. The two-time Al­lPro hasn’t pro­duced a sack since he was hurt against Mi­ami on Oct. 14, af­ter de­liv­er­ing five in the first four games. Chicago has gone from lead­ing the league with 18 to be­ing tied for eighth with 19 in that span, and a de­fense that ranked among the league’s best is now 12th over­all.

RED ZONE WOES

The Jets have been in trou­ble all sea­son when they’ve reached the op­po­nent’s 20-yard line.

New York ranks dead last in the NFL in those sit­u­a­tions with touch­downs in just eight of 23 chances, for 34.8 per­cent. The Jets have 10 field goals from Ja­son My­ers in the red zone, which raises their over­all scor­ing per­cent­age to 78.3 — still 29th in the league.

NO RUN­NING

The Bears have is­sues in the run­ning game even though they rank sixth in the league in rush­ing. Tru­bisky has ac­counted for 245 of their 784 yards, much of that on scram­bles rather than de­signed runs.

With 311 yards on 90 at­tempts, Jor­dan Howard is av­er­ag­ing just 3.5 yards per carry.

CAR­RY­ING THE LOAD

New York’s Bi­lal Pow­ell was placed on in­jured re­serve this week with a bulging disk in his neck.

That means Isa­iah Crow­ell could see a lot more car­ries mov­ing for­ward af­ter split­ting time in the back­field with Pow­ell. Crow­ell has 459 yards and five touch­downs on 81 car­ries, while Pow­ell ran for 343 yards on 80 at­tempts.

Seth Wenig / As­so­ci­ated Press

Jets quar­ter­back Sam Darnold looks to pass in an Oct. 7 game against the Bron­cos in East Ruther­ford, N.J.

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