Two teams that selected quarterbacks in the first half of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft will take the field on Sunday, as the Chicago Bears will face the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. The Bears dropped a tight contest in Week 11 on the road against the Atlanta Falcons by a final score of 27-24. The Jets also fell in Week 11 on the road by a 10-3 margin, thanks to a late punt return touchdown for the New England Patriots.
We’ll take a look at a few keys to this game, while certainly focusing in on the two young quarterbacks on each side.
Banged Up Fields
It’s been a meteoric rise for Justin Fields in the last month or so. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what has changed for the second-year quarterback, but it’s possible that he’s taken the next step in his development through the experience of starting for the last one and a half years. Fields has learned how to use his legs efficiently, which has caused defenses to find themselves in a world of trouble.
However, things might get a lot more difficult for the former Ohio State star in the coming weeks. Fields suffered a dislocated shoulder last week against Atlanta, which he ended up playing through. If there’s a bit of good news, the injury is to his non-throwing shoulder, but this could still have a sizeable impact on his performance. If he is able to continue playing, Fields might opt to run less to reduce the wear and tear of the injury, but that may also make him less effective as a player.
Worrying About Wilson
After an uninspiring performance last week against New England, the questions surrounding Zach Wilson’s viability as the long-term answer under center in New York have started again. Granted, the wind was whipping furiously at Gillette Stadium last weekend, but Wilson struggled mightily against the Patriots in their first meeting as well.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Jets handle this situation against the Bears. The team is still firmly in the mix for a playoff spot, and it seems within the realm of possibility that Wilson could be benched in favor of Joe Flacco. If the team sticks with Wilson, the game plan they deploy for him will be watched closely.
Making Plays When They Matter Most
While all eyes will be on both quarterbacks, the execution of everyone on the field will be a main factor in this matchup. Chicago has lost three straight games by three points or less, and can’t seem to make that crucial play to get them into the win column. The Jets gave up a late touchdown on special teams that cost them last week’s contest.
Whichever team is able to operate down the stretch will have the advantage, and that might also come down to the coaching decisions made by Matt Eberflus and Robert Saleh.