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Potential Problems for Bears with Giants

The Giants' problems at wide receiver could make defending the pass easier for the Bears but solving Saquon Barkley is the real issue after earlier run-stopping issues.

The Bears have little time to pat themselves on the back for stopping the run on Sunday against Houston, although they did just the same.

Facing resurgent Saquon Barkley Sunday tends to absorb all the attention of any run defense.

The Giants' top back had 81 yards rushing Monday night in the 23-16 loss to Dallas, including a 36-yard run. He appears completely back from knee problems that began against the Bears at Soldier Field with an Eddie Jackson tackle.

The Bears found a way to make Houston back Dameon Pierce inconsequential in the second half Sunday by limiting the Texans to 22 rushing yards then and 92 for he game. They then took over what had been a tight battle.

They did this a week after being trampled on the ground two straight games by Green Bay and San Francisco, allowing 379 yards to those teams.

Defensive end Robert Quinn said it can be "...demoralizing when you can't stop the run."

Improvement was the result of better tackling overall, according to coach Matt Eberflus. However, that applied both to the run and the passing game.

"I would just say that, for example, if you watch Roquan (Smith) on his TFL, him getting up and into the line of scrimmage, that was a big emphasis," Eberflus said.

Smith made a key stop on second-and-goal at the 2 for a 4-yard loss that eventually helped force the Texans into a field goal.

"So that's called getting up on the runner," Eberflus said. "So when you do that, you really are in a position of power and you're able to wrap through the hamstrings and your pad level is lower and when you take a guy's legs away, it's hard to run that way and there were several examples of that.

"Another one would be Nick Morrow on that screen (pass), that when we knocked them out of field goal range and the third down. If you look how low he was in that tackle and where the runner went, he went directly backwards and that’s a way to secure a good tackle and that's the style we want to play and the style we want to use."

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Tackling, especially in big situations like the goal line or third down, is a matter of will. Quinn called it "...a manhood type of thing.

"If you want to stop the run, as a coach said to me, 'bull your neck and earn your check.' You just gotta man up and do your job."

If they can do this against the Giants it will go a long way toward earning a third win in four games to start the season.

Here are the other problem matchups they have in this game beyond stopping Barkley both as a runner and receiver.

Bears C Sam Mustipher vs. Giants NT Dexter Lawrence 75.7

Lawrence has filled out beyond belief since Clemson at 6-foot-4, 342 pounds and is going to be a total load for any of the Bears interior three linemen to handle, but especially Mustipher because Lawrence will be trying to tie him up and drive him back to stop running plays. Mustipher's real weakness is with the bigger, stronger type nose tackles but he has been ascending in terms of Pro Football Focus blocking grades. Mustipher had an outstanding 72.6 run-blocking grade from PFF last week and is ranked 19th in overall center play after spending most of his early career ranked around 32nd in the league. Lawrence has 11 tackles and a forced fumble so far.

Bears G Lucas Patrick vs. Giants DT Leonard Williams

Williams has been trying to get through a knee injury and his availability will be uncertain. The Bears have to hope they can miss playing him again because he has been a real terror to them at times. Last year he had eight tackles and a quarterback hit against them in a Bears win. A former Pro Bowl player with the Jets, he had 18 sacks and 44 quarterback hits over the previous two seasons and 18 1/2 overall since coming over from the Jets during the 2019 season.

Bears CB Kyler Gordon vs. Giants WR Richie James

Gordon has struggled off and on playing the slot cornerback spot and gives up the occasional big play, like a 52-yarder to Chris Moore of Houston last week. Coaches keep praising him and say they can expect big things, but they might be pushing a bit of a false narrative. Gordon simply is going to need time to fit that slot position in the NFL as it's a difficult spot. James is a pleasant surprise for the Giants. A seventh-round pick of the 49ers, he made 38 catches in three years before coming to the Giants. He is a 5-9, 185-pound slot receiver who has a team-high 14 catches for 146 yards this season. The Giants have needed someone to step up because they might lead the league in disappointments at this position. Kadarius Toney, Darius Slayton and Kenny Golladay have all been mentioned as potential trade fodder and Slayton even as a possible cut victim. None has done a thing this year, Golladay with two catches in five targets, Toney with two catches in three targets and Slayton with no receptions. One of them will need to step up for the Ginats because Sterling Shepard suffered a knee injury Monday night. In the meantime, they do know they have come to appreciate James.

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