Behind Enemy Lines: Bears/Jets, Part IV

In Part IV of an exclusive four-part series,'s John Crist and Jets Confidential's Dan Leberfield finish off their analysis of Sunday's game with John asking Dan five final questions. Is D'Brickashaw Ferguson worth the price of admission, is the transition to the 3-4 defense going well, and are Jets fans fully aboard with Eric Mangini? These Q&As and more inside.

John Crist, Editor in Chief, Is D'Brickashaw Ferguson as good as advertised, or does he still have a long way to go to be a dominant offensive tackle in this league?

Dan Leberfeld, Publisher, Ferguson has been very inconsistent and has a long way to go, though he has improved in recent weeks. He needs a lot of work in the weight room, not only getting stronger, but bigger. He's under 290 pounds now. He also has a tendency to fall for inside moves and needs work on his footwork. The Bears' defensive ends could give him problems, and not just Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown. Mark Anderson beat him for a sack in the Senior Bowl.

John Crist: What effects - both positive and negative - has this 3-4 approach on defense had and does the coaching staff plan on sticking with it?

Dan Leberfeld: There haven't been a lot of positives to the Jets 3-4 defense this year. While they did get a little better at it after the bye week in their win over the New England Patriots, they are still light years away from where they need to be. They are short on the parts they require to be a top-shelf 3-4 attack. While it might seem crazy to criticize nose tackle Dewayne Robertson coming off Player of the Week honors, I still don't think he's an ideal fit for a 3-4 nose tackle. He's just not big enough, a la Jamal Williams, Vince Wilfork or Keith Traylor. You need that 340-pound space-eater with quickness to play this role at it's highest level. Robertson is a lean 6-1, 317. He's a good player, but he's not great at taking up double-teams. He's best suited to a system like the Bears in the three-technique defensive tackle spot. Another problem for the Jets out of their 3-4 front is that they don't get enough pass rush from their outside linebackers. They need to go out and get a Joey Porter/Rosevelt Colvin-type player next offseason. But come hell or high water, Eric Mangini is going to stick with the 3-4. It's the system he was raised in.

John Crist: Does Jonathan Vilma deserve to be called the next great ex-Miami linebacker, or does he still have ways to go and some things to prove?

Dan Leberfeld: Vilma looked like he was on his way to this status, but the Jets switch to the 3-4 has turned into a bump in the road. Let's be honest, you rarely see 3-4 linebackers built like Vilma (6-1, 230). He's having to deal with more guards and centers than in the past, and it's taking away from his production. He's still playing well, but not on the level he played in his first two years. It will take a while to see if he's a good fit for the 3-4. Not many people considered him a 3-4 linebacker coming out of Miami.

John Crist: How much does the Jets' lack of a pass rush have to do with the fact that John Abraham is currently wearing an Atlanta Falcons uniform?

Dan Leberfeld: The Jets were moving to the 3-4 and didn't think Abraham was a good fit. Another reason they traded him to Atlanta was that he had trouble staying healthy. Lo and behold, he needed another sports hernia operation in Atlanta, the third of his career. As I mentioned in the previous answer, the Jets need to add a couple of 3-4 outside linebackers who can rush the passer in next year's draft and in free agency. They are thin at the position, and that is a big reason their pass rush has been anemic. Clemson's Gaines Adams would be a good fit for Gang Green.

John Crist: Are Jets fans all aboard with Eric Mangini already, or will it take him a few more seasons and a lot more wins to fully earn their respect?

Dan Leberfeld: Jets fans love Eric Mangini. The fans had low expectations entering the season, so a 5-4 record is an early Christmas gift for them. The fans love Mangini's focus on football. They really soured on Herman Edwards last year. You got the feeling they viewed him as 'more sizzle than steak.' In Mangini, they feel they have a piece of filet mignon, an extremely focused coach with a top-shelf football mind.

The Chicago Bears (8-1) travel to the Meadowlands this Sunday to take on the New York Jets (5-4). Kickoff is at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time on Fox.

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