NEW YORK — Rex Ryan has watched plenty of film of Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears’ offense during the past several days.
And from what Ryan and the New York Jets’ defense have seen, they know they’ll have their hands full with those big, bad Bears receivers.
“Sometimes they just throw it up there,” Ryan said. “Sometimes there are timing (routes). … A lot of times it’s like, ‘Hey, run behind the Buick, I’ll throw it to you.’ They have two monsters and they don’t mind feeding it to them, regardless of what your coverage looks like.”
Press-man coverage, zone coverage, whatever. The 6-foot-4 Brandon Marshall and 6-3 Alshon Jeffery cause opponents fits, and they’ll be looking to do more of the same against the Jets (1-1) when the Bears (1-1) come to MetLife Stadium on the night of Sept. 22.
Both Marshall (ankle) and Jeffery (hamstring) were listed as questionable — but they were in the same position last week and both played. Marshall looked especially healthy Sept. 14th night when he caught three touchdown passes and helped the Bears roar back for a 28-20 comeback win at San Francisco.
“They’re both big receivers,” Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said. “They both can go up and catch the football. They both know how to box you out. They’re both strong. They’re built. They both can make one-handed, spectacular catches down the field.”
Other than all that, they should be no problem to defend. Yeah, sure.
Marshall has 13 catches for 119 yards with four touchdowns, while Jeffery has eight receptions for 118 yards.
Oh, and the Jets will also have to be fully aware of playmaking 6-6 tight Martellus Bennett, who leads the Bears with 15 catches and has two TDs.
“They have a group of receivers that can get down the field and create mismatches,” Thurman said. “You’ve got to go up, fight them and contest them for the football and hope you win your share of them. Obviously, versus most teams, they win their share.”
Having an unsettled situation in the secondary also isn’t ideal for the Jets. Top cornerback Dee Milliner is doubtful for the game as he deals with ankle and quadriceps injuries that kept him out of practice Sept. 18-19.
Milliner, who suffered a high ankle sprain on Aug. 10 during training camp, missed the season opener against Oakland but then played last week at Green Bay. He was done for the day after allowing Jordy Nelson to score on an 80-yard touchdown catch.
Converted safety Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls are expected to start for the third straight game and will have to try to keep Marshall and Jeffery — and Bennett — from having huge games in the passing game. The Jets’ front seven will also be counted on to put lots of pressure on Cutler, forcing him into making mistakes.
“They give you a lot of looks up front, which takes time as a quarterback,” Cutler said. “It takes your eyes off the secondary because you have to worry about where they are coming from. Are you going to be picked up? Are you going to be hot? And that just takes away a click or two you have that you could be reading the secondary and finding your routes. So, it’s a tricky defense.”
But it’s also one that knows it needs to buckle down after allowing Aaron Rodgers to throw for 346 yards — 209 to Nelson — and three touchdowns last week. The Jets are facing a stretch of pass-happy opponents that doesn’t get much easier after Sept. 22.
Detroit, San Diego, Denver and New England are next, so Chicago will provide a good test as to where New York’s defense is. The Jets are ranked third in overall defense, helped by their No. 1 spot against the run. But they’re also a mediocre 17th against the pass.
“Hopefully, if you’re stopping the run, you’re pretty decent on second down against the pass,” linebacker Calvin Pace said. “And that way, on third down, you can kind of make them a little bit more one-sided. You can pin your ears back and go.”
Not that that will be a given against the Bears. Matt Forte is one of the league’s top dual threats, a running back who can rush for 100-plus yards and make plays catching short passes and turning them into big gains.
“We’re not sleeping on the fact that he’s in their backfield,” Thurman said. “Our No. 1 objective almost every week is to stop the run first and then play good pass defense and not let the ball go over our head.”
(DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer)