The Jets need a game to get back into their winning frame of mind, and that game is the next one on the schedule. It happens to be at MetLife Stadium and against the 3-8 Bears, whose quarterback hurt his shoulder last Sunday and whose top runner is out with a hip injury.
The Jets and head coach Robert Saleh have worked through some QB questions of their own this week, with Mike White getting the starting nod and Zach Wilson "resetting" after last week's rough offensive showing at New England. A win, besides lifting the Jets to 7-4, as a side benefit would make White only the second Jets QB in franchise history to notch a home victory over the Bears, with the first being Vinny Testaverde in 2000.
Here are five players in green and white and black to watch closely as the Jets attempt to move to 7-4 for their best 11-game record since opening 2010 at 9-2 and remain in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt as we head ever closer to December and January
QB Mike White — His NFL résumé is thin, with four games and three starts for the Jets last year. Some passing numbers — 5 TDs to 8 INTs, 75.1 rating — are what one would expect from a 2018 fifth-round pick. But he showed 66.7% accuracy and his drive stats are generally good — average drive of 6.0 plays for 33.6 yards, 23.9% TD drive rate, 9.0% three-and-out rate). And there is that beguiling start, finish and conquering of the 5-2 Bengals at MetLife, the 34-31 stunner during which he completed 37 of 45 for 405 yards in his first pro start. Additionally, WR Corey Davis is returning to action plus some right-side O-line starters in Nate Herbig and Max Mitchell are possibly available also. "For Mike, obviously it's a great opportunity," Saleh said, " and I know he'll attack it."
DL Quinnen Williams — Williams has been on a rampage. His career-high 8.0 sacks lead the Jets and are tied for 10th in the NFL. His 18 QB hits are tied for fifth and are tops among the league's interior D-linemen. Perhaps most important, he's leading a ferocious pack of sackers, and not only Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers. Consider that in the past three games, 13 different players have had a hand in the Jets' 17 sacks, with no player having more than one sack in any one game. Spreading the wealth while applying the heat has been increasingly beneficial for the Green & White and should lay havoc with the Bears offense, whether Justin Fields or his backup and former Jet Trevor Siemian is at QB.
See the top photos from Wednesday's practice leading up to the Bears game.
LBs C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams —The Bears are ranked first in the NFL in rush yards/game and last in net pass yards/game, but their rushing game has been hit hard. Fields could be out or limited with his aching left shoulder, and RB Khalil Herbert, averaging a mere 6.0 yards/carry, is definitely out, on IR with a hip injury. The Jets LBs have the chance to lead the charge against David Montgomery and what remains of the Bears' 200 yards/game rushing attack. Mosley is on pace to match his career-high tackle total from last year, and he and Quinnen Williams top the Jets with 10 tackles for third-down stops. And not to overlook hard-hitting Kwon Alexander but Q's older brother leads the Jets the last two seasons with 24.5 tackles for loss/no gain and tops the D this year with 8.5 TFLNG and 5.0 tackles for loss.
ST captain Justin Hardee — Hardee put it on himself for not beating a triple-team block on Patriots rookie Marcus Jones' Jets-crushing last-second punt-return TD Sunday. More than Hardee swung and missed on the play, but this can be a big bounceback game for him and the Jets' coverage/return teams. He's tied for second in the NFL with 11 ST tackles. The Bears will be without Herbert, who had a 50-yard kickoff return two games ago, but still have rookie Velus Jones, who reeled off a 55-yarder last week. Chicago is also 31st in KR defense and middle of the pack against punt returns, giving Hardee and his blockers an opening to spring Braxton Berrios for some feelgood field-flipping runbacks of his own.