Bears safety Jackson, WR Mooney suffer injuries in loss to Jets
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Bears played the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in October. Afterward, center Sam Mustipher felt some soreness in his joints.
"Knees. Ankles. Hips," Mustipher said. "I have to see the chiropractor on Wednesday for a realignment and stuff. You definitely feel it more so on the turf than you would on grass."
So the Bears knew what they were in for when they returned to the infamous MetLife Stadium turf on Sunday to face the New York Jets. It's no secret among NFL circles that the artificial turf at this field, in particular, seems to lead to more injuries than others.
It struck the Bears bad on Sunday. They appeared to lose a team captain.
Safety Eddie Jackson suffered a noncontact foot injury during the second quarter of Sunday's loss, 31-10, against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Jackson crumpled into a heap on the turf in the middle of a play, several yards from the action.
With Jackson on the ground, Jets receiver Garrett Wilson blew through the Bears' secondary for a 54-yard touchdown on the play.
MetLife Stadium, which is home to both the Jets and Giants, has drawn criticism from the NFL Players Association for its use of "slit film" turf. It's one of six NFL stadium that use this type of turf. The NFLPA believes this type of turf causes more injuries than others forms of synthetic turf. The stadium is planning to resurface the field prior to the 2023 season, according to multiple reports.
Jackson's injury appeared to be quite serious. He needed to be carted from the team sideline to the locker room. The Bears were already playing without rookie safety Jaquan Brisker and rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon, both starters, who were out with concussions.
Jackson has been having a resurgent season in coach Matt Eberflus' 4-3 defensive scheme. He entered Sunday's game with four interceptions, two forced fumbles and five passes defended on the season.
Things then went from bad to worse in the second half when receiver Darnell Mooney suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter. Mooney's injury could not be blamed on the playing surface. He was blocking for running back David Montgomery when an opponent appeared to roll up on his legs from behind. Mooney couldn't put any weight on his left leg as he was helped to the team locker room.
"For us, offensively, a guy like (Mooney) goes down, just a bright, vibrant guy in the huddle and, obviously, a big play maker," tight end Cole Kmet said. "So when you lose him it's tough, for sure."
The Bears provided no details or timetable for Jackson's or Mooney's returns. Neither player returned to the game.
"Those guys have been great in the locker room," head coach Matt Eberflus said. "They're great teammates. They really are encouraging to others and they really model the behavior we wish to see."
Is it the turf?: The injuries didn't stop there. Receiver Chase Claypool appeared to tweak something late in the game when he planted his feet and leaped into the air to try to pull in a high pass from quarterback Trevor Siemian. Claypool had to come out of the game and received some attention from team trainers in the medical tent.
After the game, Claypool would say only that he tweaked something.
"It could've been the turf, but I'm not sure," Claypool said. "We're just going to see how it feels."
Right tackle Riley Reiff left the game with a shoulder injury. Backup Larry Borom also briefly left the game with an apparent injury. The turf can't be blamed for all of the injuries, certainly not Mooney's and likely not Reiff's shoulder.
"It's a tough surface," linebacker Nicholas Morrow said. "Anytime you play on turf like this, I don't know, you see a lot of guys get hurt. It's not the best surface, they can definitely do more to help protect players."
Defense rolls over: From the midway point in the second quarter, the Bears allowed 24 unanswered points Sunday. With Jackson out and Brisker and Gordon ruled out before the game, they were playing short-handed on the back end.
Safety DeAndre Houston-Carson started for Brisker and cornerback Kindle Vildor started for Gordon. Cornerback Jaylon Jones and safety Elijah Hicks saw much more playing time than usual due to the injuries ahead of them.
"Now you've got to change some things you do because Eddie's a great player," Morrow said. "He has a lot of freedom because he can make plays. Now, you've got to tighten up a little bit because we don't have that type of player back there."
The Bears allowed 466 total yards and 22 first downs. Jets quarterback Mike White, making his first start of the season, threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns on 22-of-28 passing.