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Grading the Bears' Effort Against the Giants

The Bears say they know exactly why those bootleg plays worked so well against them, and if that's the case then why did they work so well?

Wide receiver Darnell Mooney felt a little better about his play.

Matt Eberflus pointed out offensive improvement.

After Sunday's 20-12 Bears loss to the New York Giants, this all seemed a little like the crew of the Titanic expressing relief that their ship finally was about to get a good cleaning inside and out as it sank.

The loss to the Giants put all the Bears' warts on display, and if there were positives they were apparent only due to the nature of the opponent.

This was, after all, a weak team they faced, one with an even worse receiver corps than they have. How does a team allow 71 passing yards and no completions longer than 18 yards but lose?

It's easy when they let two quarterbacks rush for 99 yards and can't contain Saquon Barkley.

It is true Mooney finally resurfaced in the attack, but the red zone was a Bears dead zone with three failed efforts there and three field goals.

"It really doesn't matter what we did connection-wise," Mooney said. "It's all about winning the game."

This is what the Bears have been saying all along as they put up some really weird numbers on offense so far, and have been trampled on at will by almost every running game they've played.

Still, coach Matt Eberflus looked at the 56-yard Justin Fields completion to Mooney and expressed some optimism.

"I love the way he was throwing the ball down the field," Eberflus said. "That's going to open up so more things for us."

If they don't fix the problems stopping the run and getting more production in the red zone, the only thing that will open up is the trap door to last place in the NFC North

Here is the Bears report card for the Week 4 loss to the Giants.

Running Game: C+

Their 149 yards rushing were deceiving. Khalil Herbert was so-so with 4.1 yards a rush and 77 yards but Fields accounted for 52 of their rushing yards and he wasn't getting them off the RPO or on bootleg keepers like Giants quarterbacks were. He was gaining rushing yards on scrambles when pass blocking broke down. It's not real rushing yards. Not much was happening for Trestan Ebner as he gained 20 yards on six runs. The run blocking downfield by receivers was obviously not as good with Byron Pringle out of the lineup, as they had only a long run of 15 yards from Herbert.

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Passing Game: C

Fields did complete a few deeper balls and didn't need to do it playground style. He threw from the pocket. However, they lacked consistency and even worse, Fields got sacked six times by a team with three sacks through the first three games. The Bears obviously were hurt by the loss of Cody Whitehair to a knee injury on the line. Lucas Patrick hadn't been practicing at left guard and made the most of it.

Run Defense: F

They had no idea how to stop simple bootlegs and they only saw Justin Fields running bootlegs all through training camp. They had no idea how to stop Saquon Barkley and welcome to the club because few other teams know how, either. Roquan Smith made 10 quiet tackles, with only one really good stick on Barkley. He was embarrased by Tyrod Taylor on a scramble in the open field. The biggest problem the Bears had was lack of gap integrity and doing it against a team with such a poor offensive line doesn't bode well for the future.

Pass Defense: B-

The lack of pressure on Jones and Taylor is alarming considering it was a problem heading into the game. The Giants had given up 13 sacks before this and the Bears managed only one, with that coming on a safety blitz by Jaquan Brisker who was actually looking to shut down a bootleg and not really a blitzer per se. It would be easy to praise the pass coverage but the lack of bonafide receivers by the Giants tempers any success here, and even Eddie Jackson's third interception came with an asterisk attached. It came on third down inside the 10-yard line on a deep ball and they could have been better off if he just knocked the pass down.

Special Teams: C+

Although all four field goals came from short distances, Michael Badgley deserve credit for stepping in on a moment's notice after he reportedly won a tryout when it became apparent the Bears might not have Cairo Santos available. Another strong day punting and kicking off by Trenton Gill, and their coverage teams excelled as the Giants started three drives inside their 20 after punts and two inside their 18 after kickoffs. And then there was the muffed punt by Velus Jones Jr. that soiled the entire day's effort.

Coaching: D+

The Bears did do a somewhat better job of containing the bootleg after halftime. If it was a case of making adjustments, why weren't these put in place before the game? The Giants had shown this bootleg ability in their other games. Luke Getsy lost the battle of wits with Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who had the Bears guessing about the blitz all day. Once the Bears got him on third-and-20 with a screen pass but by and large he was a step ahead of them. It's been four weeks and so far the HITS principle doesn't seem to have the ability to stop simple running plays.

Overall: C-

The Bears must go to Minnesota now after showing their defense couldn't stop bootleg plays by the Giants. Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook will be running those plays until the Bears turn purple. They do it regularly anyway, and they actually can pass on those plays.

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