The Jets will go into Sunday without clarity on who they’ll see at quarterback.
The Bears are officially listing Justin Fields as questionable with a separated shoulder, leaving the door open to playing either Fields or Trevor Siemian on Sunday afternoon.
“We’ll see where it goes,” Chicago coach Matt Eberflus told reporters.
That means the Jets will be left preparing for both players. And because of Fields’ capability in running the football — the second-year QB has 834 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground this season — that is not altogether straightforward.
“Completely different game plan depending on who plays,” defensive end John Franklin-Myers told The Post. “At the end of the day, we gotta go out there and we gotta play our brand of football. Whoever plays has to get hit. We gotta be physical, we gotta play violent and we gotta play with effort regardless of who plays.”
Franklin-Myers said the Jets will assume that Fields will play until proven otherwise. Given that he is the better, more dynamic option, that is only prudent. If it is indeed Fields, then the goal is to try to slow him down by being physical and hitting him in the open field.
“The hard part is preparing for a running quarterback,” Franklin-Myers said. “Guys who don’t run as well, it just kinda turns into a normal week. We know [Siemian] does a good job getting the ball outta his hands fast. We understand again that they want to run the ball but again, preparing for a quarterback that runs is a lot different than preparing for a quarterback that doesn’t run. So prepare for Fields and see what happens.”
Siemian, who spent a year as the Jets’ backup in 2019, has not been a full-time starter in the league since 2017. He is, though, seen as a capable backup who can come in and manage a game competently.
What he can’t do, though, is take advantage of designed quarterback runs or break out of the pocket the same way as Fields. Or, really, at all. It’s not a part of his toolkit, and Fields’ ability to do those things is a big part of what makes Chicago’s offense tick.
“He’s probably one of the most dynamic runners — that’s not just quarterback, it’s wide receiver, running back, whatever the case may be — in the NFL right now,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “And then beyond that — that’s obviously where it starts and where it is the most difficult — he’s got phenomenal arm talent, which he doesn’t get enough credit for. I think he’s growing, seeing the game and understanding the game but the arm talent is absolutely there.”
Having already faced quarterbacks who can use their legs, namely Josh Allen, will be of help to the Jets, according to head coach Robert Saleh. Their defense, ranked ninth in yardage, performed well against Allen in a win over the Bills three weeks ago, but struggled to contain Lamar Jackson in an opening day loss to the Ravens.
“You’re obviously gonna prepare for the quarterback run game and thankfully we’ve got a lot of reps under our belt from the different quarterbacks we’ve had to play this year,” Saleh said. “With regards to Justin, if he plays, there’s the added element of his scrambling ability, which is [like] Josh Allen. And Josh Allen actually runs the ball, too.
“There’s a lot of things that we’ve banked reps on so we’ll be able to practice all that. But as far as their offense, their structure and their run game, all that stuff, both [quarterbacks] can do it at a high level. So we’re just adding the QB run.”