Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Jets

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Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Jets

 1. Stop the run, and get in Sam Darnold’s head. By ESPN’s total QBR, Darnold has been one of the five worst quarterbacks in the NFL this year, only ahead of Josh Allen, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Tannehill and Josh Rosen (and Darnold is the only one of that group to start every one of his team’s games). His league-leading 10 interceptions are a big reason why. He’s completing 56.4 percent of his passes and won’t have four of his five most-targeted pass-catchers at his disposal on Sunday: Quincy Enunwa (43 targets) is out, Terrelle Pryor (22 targets) was released last week, Bilal Powell (18 targets) is on injured reserve and Robby Anderson (36 targets) is doubtful to play. Meanwhile, Darnold has thrown multiple interceptions in six of the seven games he’s played. 
But the best thing the Bears can do is neutralize running back Isaiah Crowell, who’s averaging 5.7 yards per carry, and force Darnold into plenty of third-and-longs with a ragtag group of receivers. Darnold has, per Pro Football Focus, been credited almost as many sacks (four) as his entire starting offensive line (five) — though that line likely will be without starting center Spencer Long, too. All this adds up to Sunday being a prime opportunity for Akiem Hicks to make a game-wrecking impact against the run and as a pass rusher, too. 
2. Handle the blitz. Todd Bowles’ Jets are averaging about 15 blitzes per game, while opponents have blitzed Mitch Trubisky around 12 times per game, according to Pro Football Focus. Expect Bowles to be aggressive in bringing pressure given Trubisky’s tendencies: His completion percentage drops from 70.7 percent when he’s not blitzed to 54.1 percent when he is, though he’s only thrown one interception against four touchdowns when opposing defenses blitz. 
What makes the Jets’ blitz so difficult, coach Matt Nagy said, is it’ll come at any down and distance and not just in traditional third-and-long pass rushing situations. A lot of how the Bears handle the blitz falls on Trubisky getting protections right and making good decisions, but he’ll also need his pass-catchers to run the right hot routes and his offensive line/running backs to give him as much time as possible. 
3. Don’t do anything stupid. This is more a general note, given the Bears have a clear talent advantage over the Jets in a way they did against the Seahawks, Cardinals and Buccaneers. What the Bears have shown through six games is an ability to take care of business against teams they’re better than, and an ability to hang with — but not beat — teams as good or better than them. If the Bears play a clean game without a multitude of glaring mistakes (like interceptions in the end zone, or a string of explosive plays or special teams touchdowns), they’ll easily handle a team with a rookie quarterback and a number of injuries on both sides of the ball. 
Prediction: Bears 31, Jets 20. Going back to the clear talent advantage for one more thought: Teams with that edge playing at home usually win in the NFL. The Bears have that, even if Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson aren’t 100 percent or don’t play Sunday. That doesn’t mean this game will be a blowout, but it will wind up a comfortable win for the Bears. The 31 points for the Bears are in line with what they’ve done in their last three games (48, 28, 31), while the Jets’ defense has allowed 30 or more points in three of their last four games. 

Bears-Rams Inactives: David Montgomery WILL play after all

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Bears-Rams Inactives: David Montgomery WILL play after all

The Bears and Rams are set to kick off in about 90 minutes, and the teams have released their inactive players list. 

The good news for the Bears? David Montgomery will play: 

Montgomery missed time in practice this week after he "lightly rolled" it, according to Matt Nagy. His status was considered a gametime decision. 

Otherwise, not much else new here. The fact that Trevathan, while inactive, continues to avoid IR is something worth monitoring as we go forward. 

Former Bears DC Vic Fangio off to rough start as Broncos coach

Former Bears DC Vic Fangio off to rough start as Broncos coach

Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was one of the few head-coaching candidates last offseason whose reputation in the league was based on defense. With most teams looking for the next young offensive guru, Fangio's stature as a veteran defensive coach made the Denver Broncos' decision to name him their head coach a pretty bold move.

After a 3-6 start and a change from Joe Flacco to Brandon Allen at quarterback, Denver's lacking offense has sparked internal frustration, according to CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora.

The real source of the difficulty, however, appears to be Fangio.

Fangio has had issues with offensive assistants, the sources said, and at one point top receiver Emmanuel Sanders in essence walked out on the team, leading to his eventual trade. Lines of communication have been strained, and Fangio has been quick to dispute play calls and come across as overbearing on the headsets, sources said, which has created issues in-game and otherwise.

Fangio's time in Chicago was highlighted by the dominant performance of the Bears' defense in 2018, one that led the team to an NFC North championship and its first playoff berth since 2010.

But he was never able to establish himself as the kind of coach who could handle the media or other responsibilities that come along with being atop the coaching food chain. His to-the-point and sometimes brutally honest style worked well for a grizzled defensive coordinator, but head coaches are held to a different standard.

It would be unfair to expect Fangio to change who he is at this point in his coaching career, which began with the New Orleans Saints 33 seasons ago. 

Maybe we're just starting to see why it took so long for him to actually land a head coaching position.