Some fans of the green-and-white persuasion might have been inclined to feel that with the 3-8 Bears, missing starting QB Justin Fields, then not being sure which backup would be running the offense, on top of missing their top tailback for a few more weeks, would be a prime candidate for a pummeling by the Jets' defense.
But that's not how the first 1½ quarters of the Jets' home game against Chicago unfolded Sunday.
"The defense started a little slow," head coach Robert Saleh said. "Credit to them, they created a couple of explosives on checkdowns. That 32 [RB David Montgomery] is a damn good back. I thought the defense did a really nice job settling."
"Sometimes it takes a couple of plays to adjust," MLB and defensive leader C.J. Mosley said. "Could've been the weather, could've been the rain, but nonetheless we got it going in time."
There were actually a lot of similarities between the defense's stoic showing in the 10-3 loss at New England and today's slower-starting, still-fast-finishing effort in the 31-10 win over the Bears.
Last week, no touchdowns allowed. Sunday, one. Last week, 297 yards and 13 first downs given up. Sunday, 290 yards and 14 first downs. Last week, no takeaways, no red zone touchdowns allowed. Sunday: one takeaway, one RZ TD.
The difference in the two outcomes, however, was fairly clear for Jets fans: The offense and special teams came along for the ride.
"I think just the second year in the system is always helpful for guys on both sides of the ball, and I think that's going to show," QB Mike White said. "It's nice knowing we have one of the best defenses in ball and you can fall on them if you need to."
Perhaps another issue was the identity of the Chicago QB. The Jets were prepared for the newly dangerous Justin Fields but his separated left shoulder made him an unlikely starter. Then there was backup Trevor Siemian's oblique sprain from warmups that had him out in favor of practice-squad callup Nate Peterman and then back to Siemian for the entire game.
"We were definitely expecting Fields to play, just knowing him being a franchise quarterback, being a young quarterback, wanting to be out there with his team," Mosley said. "It didn't happen. We heard about the injury thing outside in warmups, so at that point we were just ready to execute our game plan. We prepared for Fields, but we were ready for whoever stepped on the field."
The Jets didn't rack up the sacks against the mobile Siemian — after totaling 17 sacks and 24 QB hits in the past three games, they had two and five vs. the former Jets. John Franklin-Myers and Nate Shepherd splitting one and Bryce Huff speeding unblocked for the second.
See the best images from the 31-10 victory over the Bears at MetLife Stadium.
But after the Bears' 10 points on their first two drives, the defense always found a way. They held Chicago to a five-series bloc of three 3-and-outs and two 4-and-outs. Then when the visitors threatened just a bit to make this into a fourth-quarter nailbiter, S Lamarcus Joyner came up with the fourth-down pass defense on Chase Claypool near the goal line to end one drive, and Mosley came flying in front of TE Cole Kmet at the 3 for his first interception since his first game as a Jet in the 2019 home opener against Buffalo.
This recap is not to suggest the Jets defense is on the beach and home free for the rest of the year.
"They got a few explosives on us," Huff said. "We just had to recoup, settle down and get back into our rhythm."
"Obviously we have to fix this tackling," Saleh said of too many misses, especially on Montgomery, who had a 113-yard scrimmage game. "I will give credit to that kid — he's a load. But still, a lot of things we can get better at."
But, the coach added, "It's like I've said: Our guys don't flinch. There's a lot of confidence on the defensive side of the ball. ... They play hard, they play fast and they're very smart.
"I love that group."