In Week 4, the Giants will flip the page from their division and look forward to the final game of their three-game MetLife Stadium homestand: an intra-division meeting with the Chicago Bears (2-1).
Entering Sunday’s contest, the two historic franchises will battle for the 63rd time (8 postseason games), with the visiting Bears holding a 36-24-2 advantage in the series. Their most recent matchup came in Week 17 last season, when the Giants had arguably their most miserable offensive performance of the season and were blown out at Soldier Field, 29-3.
Like the Giants, Chicago is rolling through 2022 with one of the youngest offensive units in the entire NFL. Among their starters and notable depth players, the Bears have only eight players with at least four years of professional experience, some of which came over from other organizations in the offseason.
Headlining the Bears’ offense is quarterback Justin Fields, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 draft out of Ohio State. Fields, whom the Giants had some interest in before that draft, is coming off a 6-11 rookie campaign where he struggled to throw the football (58.9% completion rate and sacked 36 times) and command the team in the red zone (Chicago ranked 30th in red zone scoring percentage last season).
With a chip on his shoulder to prove that his two successful seasons in college were no fluke, Fields will look to reverse the script and unearth his hidden talents in a new, quarterback-heavy system run by first-year offensive coordinator Luke Getsky.
Joining him from the backfield will be a duo of running backs, Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery. Herbert, a second-year player from Virginia Tech, has established himself as the Bears’ lead back in production with 240 yards rushing in three games. Montgomery had been the team’s starter in the last three seasons, but his 2022 has started slower with injuries.
In the wide receiver room, Fields has several new weapons fresh off the free agent market to spread the ball around to. The trio of Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis (former Giant), and Byron Pringle are among those new toys, and one can’t forget about the returning players in rising star Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet.
Behind Getsky, the Bears’ entire offense will need to boost its production and success, especially in the passing game, if they want to compete in a tough NFC North division this season. Last year, Chicago ranked 27th in points and 24th in yards while finishing 29th in turnovers which greatly inhibited that offensive success.
Meanwhile, in the air, the Bears bottomed out in nearly every major passing category, including yards (30th), touchdowns (29th), interceptions (29th), and yards per attempt (30th). Running on the ground fared better for Chicago, with middle-of-the-league rankings in attempts (11th), carries (14th), and touchdowns (18th), perhaps of having a mobile quarterback at their disposal.
Through the first three games of the 2022 season, the Bears’ passing woes have worsened with just 235 passing yards and two touchdowns by the receiving room.
However, the Bears’ have risen to 20th best in points scored and have boasted one of the top-five rushing attacks in the league, pushing 560 yards for 5.4 yards per carry and four touchdowns (ranks 2nd and 4th, respectively).
One week after facing a tough rushing attack from the Cowboys, the Giants' defense will be tasked with forcing the ball out of Herbert and Montgomery’s hands and putting pressure on Fields to throw the ball into mistakes, something that has kept Chicago’s offense under wraps since the product’s arrival.
Let’s focus more on the key faces of the Chicago Bears offense and what else the Giants need to be aware of on Sunday.
When the Chicago Bears moved up in the 2021 NFL draft to select quarterback Justin Fields (a trade with the Giants), their sole intention was simple–end the quarterback carousel that had been plaguing the organization for two decades.
Dating back to the 2000 season, a total of 27 quarterbacks have taken snaps for Chicago, while only two of them successfully kept the starting role for at least three seasons. Thus, a notion has developed around the Windy City that the Bears are incapable of sustaining long-term quarterback success.
Coming into his first professional tenure, the 23-year-old Fields was eager to buck that narrative in the rear, but it was an aspiration too ambitious for the system he was thrown into. Behind a porous offensive line and weak receiving attack, Fields found himself incapable of proficiently dishing the football and leaving his mark with his legs, resulting in a mediocre 6-11 debut.
The passing struggles often lead to the Bears removing the ball from Fields' hands and placing their focus into the gloves of the rushing attack, further hampering the quarterback’s development. At the end of last season, Fields finished with 159 completions for 1,870 yards, a 7-10 touchdown to interception ratio, and a 73.2 overall passer rating.
With new head coach Matt Eberflus and his offensive coordinator Luke Getsky entering the fold in 2022, the offensive strategy reverts to where it should have been. The new focus for the Bears this season is putting the football back into their high-investment quarterback's hands and letting him dictate the unit’s success.
With Fields behind center, the Bears have arguably the best dual-threat quarterback on the Giants' schedule this season. Dubbed as a multi-talented player since his high school days, the Kennesaw, Georgia native boasts an incredibly powerful arm combined with the bold confidence to take off with the football in a flash and punish opposing defense on the ground.
Field’s hidden prowess as a thrower reveals itself in terms of the former attribute when he’s given adequate time in the pocket. Fields rarely gets nervous when defensive pressure starts to crack down on his front line. Instead, he remains poised while the routes develop and then launches a deadly accurate and clean football to his playmakers at different levels of the field.
Having several speedy, deep-range receivers in his huddle, Fields will search for any weaknesses in the defensive secondary and exploit them by sending his ball catchers on deep routes along the sidelines. There is also no fear in his game when it comes to slinging passes into tight coverage holes, trusting his receivers to make the catch on an inside route amid traffic.
Switching over to Field’s legs, the Bears love to feature their quarterback in the option formation, especially when they get close to the goal line. They sometimes have Fields in the backfield by himself, where he’ll take a direct snap, surge forward, or wrap around behind a set of pulling blockers. Other times he’s flanked by two backs, where the Bears can mix in motions and fake handoffs before Fields takes off with the ball.
Once he’s past the line of scrimmage, Fields has the bravado to take on contact and sacrifice his body to get into the endzone. If no defenders are in front of him, he also can turn on the jets and engage in a foot race with a 4.46 40-yard speed.
Sunday’s game will mark the first time the Giants' defense will face Fields in the Bears offense, as the quarterback missed five games last season with injuries, and Andy Dalton filled in his place. It may also be one of their biggest tests of the season, as the second-year star is uber-talented, on a mission to end the quarterback curse in Chicago, and ready to put the doubters of his leadership to rest.
Over the past three seasons, the Bears rushing attack has mainly gone through the hands of fourth-year ball carrier David Montgomery. However, this time, it appears the team’s veteran rusher has some competition.
Montgomery looked poised to have another productive season in the Bears' run-heavy offensive system after his third consecutive campaign with at least 225 rushes, 849 yards, and six rushing touchdowns. Yet, with a new scheme brought in by Getsky and an early ankle injury getting in the way, that prospect hasn’t gotten off to a great start.
In three short weeks, the 25-year-old has accumulated just 35 attempts for 159 yards and an average of 4.5 yards per carry, his lowest rushing totals through that period since his rookie season. He was also limited to under 20 carries in Chicago’s first two games of the season, earning only three carries before bowing out of the Bears 23-20 win last Sunday with the ankle ailment.
With Montgomery having one of his quieter starts, things have begun to open up for fellow running back Khalil Herbert. A second-year back out of Virginia Tech, Hebert has led all-Bears ball carriers through the first three weeks, tallying 33 rushes for 240 yards and three touchdowns (tied for 3rd among active running backs).
Herbert is also coming off a rookie outing in which he totaled 103 carries for 433 yards and two touchdowns. Having his sophomore season in Chicago take off with increased snaps, he is now looking to boost those numbers and challenge his superior running back for the Bears’ staring spot.
Among his many redeeming qualities, Herbert’s size and running style first caught scouts' attention coming out of college. He was described as a back with a “well-built, compact frame” that runs with an easy tempo and good decisiveness. Using his muscular legs, Herbert excels at maintaining his speed downfield, running behind his pads to throw defenders, and making smooth changes of direction.
While on the move, Herbert also boasts great vision and clear processing of the running lanes in front of him. This allows the 5-foot-9 running back to use quick fakes and bounce-outs to shift lanes, throw off defensive pursuit to the football, and earn extra yards within the Bears’ offensive scheme. Moreover, he loves to find those new lanes to the outside of the field and display his speed on the outside zone.
Last Sunday against the Texans, Herbert had his career-high performance in the Bears’ win. He rushed the ball 20 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 7.9 yards per carry. The young bull is on the rise in the Bears’ offensive backfield, and you can bet Chicago will look to get that same production going against the Giants after seeing them struggle in the run game against Dallas in Week 3.
Montgomery is currently listed as day-to-day by the Bears. If he fails to go on Sunday, expect third-string Trestan Ebner to potentially earn some snaps as the backup.
As part of their commitment to centering the offense around Justin Fields and providing him with better weapons to pass to, the Bears acquired a few wide receivers on the free agent market this past offseason.
The first new weapon unearthed in their signings was Equanimeous St. Brown. A former sixth-round pick in 2018, St. Brown joins the Bears after spending his first four seasons in the same division with the Green Bay Packers, from 2018-2019 and then 2020-2022.
In his five seasons, St. Brown, a Notre Dame product, has tallied 41 receptions on 75 targets for 620 yards (average 15.2) and two touchdowns. The annual numbers have fallen for the receiver in recent seasons, with his career-best stat line in his rookie campaign with 21 receptions for 336 yards.
Now, St. Brown is one of the top targets in the Bears’ offense this season, already leading the team in receiving with 77 yards through three games. While he hasn’t been a high-volume target in his career, Chicago loves him for the potential damage he can do down the field.
Standing at 6-foot-5 and 214 pounds, St. Brown is a tall, long-limbed receiver with a 4.48 vertical speed to torch opposing secondaries in the deep game. Playing mostly at the outside or slot receiver hole, he pushes into his routes with quick glides and uses his speed and average footwork to change directions and maneuver throughout the field to the open spots.
St. Brown also has a good feel for separation between the defender in route running, allowing him to figure out what level of the field is most open, shifting gears towards that level, and overtaking the corners for uncontested catches in the middle and deep field. When he does earn some tight coverage on a target, St. Brown has improved his concentration at the point of the catch and has had very few focus drops in his career.
Joining St. Brown off the free agent market is Byron Pringle. An undrafted free agent hailing from Kansas State, Pringle spent his first three NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and was a member of their 2019 Super Bowl championship team. Switching jerseys to the navy and orange, he now projects to compete for the WR2 role in Getsky’s offense.
Coming off a career-high season in 2021–notching 42 receptions for 568 yards and five touchdowns—Pringle gives the Bears another versatile downfield threat to play with. He’s not as tall as St. Brown, but he has that great build-up speed off the line of scrimmage and body movement that can surprise defensive backs and create space for different routes in zone coverage.
Pringle is also an incredibly physical player. At the snap, he explodes into the stem of his route and uses his hands to fight off the defender’s hands from his frame in press coverage. Once at the top of his route, he can deploy sharp breaks, and comeback fakes break off coverage and create the catch window he needs to make a play.
If the quarterback struggles to find him in crowded coverage, Pringle is aggressive in working his way towards the ball and can even set up clean, effective running lanes for his teammates with his stellar pass-blocking skills.
Pringle occasionally runs into trouble against consistent press coverage schemes, but he has enough ways to impact the offense’s downfield success without the ball in his hands.
The arsenal of explosive playmakers doesn’t even stop at Pringle. Chicago’s wide receiver room will also feature third-year rising star Darnell Mooney.
A fifth-round draft selection by the Bears in 2020, Mooney returns after being one of the brightest sophomore stories in the league last year. Starting in 14 games last season, he completely smashed his rookie numbers and led all Bears receivers with 81 receptions for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns.
Being incredibly limber and explosive, the Bears love to deploy Mooney either out wide or inside the slot, the latter when there is a speed mismatch in the opposing coverage. If the advantage is there, Mooney will work his route running to all different levels, use sudden breaks to develop separation, and take a secured catch for a footrace to the endzone with his 4.38 speed.
Fields can rely on Mooney to be a contested catch receiver as well. The 24-year-old has above-average vision and tracking to locate high-point footballs and knows how to position himself within tight coverage to make a solid leap over the top and secure a big-time catch.
The Giants' secondary had their work cut out against Dallas’ athletic, deep-threat pass catchers in Week 3. If they think the challenge is over, they haven’t seen what awaits them against Chicago.
The Bears began the 2022 season with the combo of Cole Kmet and Ryan Griffin at tight end. With the 10-year veteran in Griffin unavailable after suffering an injury in Week 2, Kmet will get all the attention at the position.
Kmet, who was selected 43rd overall by the Bears in 2020, returns to Chicago for his third season after posting massive improvements in several receiving categories during the 2021 campaign. Playing in 17 games, the Notre Dame alumnus finished with 60 catches for 612 yards and an average of 10.2 yards per reception, all career-highs.
Most of Kmet’s snaps will feature him as the pass-catching tight end in 11-man formations, but on occasion, the Bears will try to include him in bunch groupings on the right side or as a receiver in the slot. From those formations, expect the Bears to flash Kmet off the line of scrimmage towards the flat or into the middle of the field for medium chunks of yardage.
Based on history, the Giants' defense shouldn’t worry much about Kmet being a deep ball threat for the Bears' offense on Sunday. That is largely due to Fields' inability to connect with his tight end on such throws, as the two could only link on a 25-yard pass for his longest reception and went barren in the end zone, where Kmet secured no touchdowns.
Trevon Wesco, one of Griffin’s former teammates with the New York Jets, will assume the backup tight end spot in Griffin's absence. He has yet to secure any production in the Bears offense through the first three contests. Do not expect much snaps from Wesco either, as the Bears usually only bring him in during 12-man personnel formations.
At first glance, the Bears’ starting offensive line shares similarities to that of the Giants. The most notable comparison is the composition of youth that makes up the opposing front.
Following several intriguing battles for starting roles in training camp, Chicago walks into the 2022 season with three of their five blockers holding less than three years of NFL experience. That youth is taking shape at both tackle spots and right guard, while two veterans help fill in the middle and bring experience to a group longing for stability and solid protection for Justin Fields.
Rookie offensive tackle Braxton Jones is starting on the left side for Chicago’s offensive line. The Southern Utah product was the Bears’ fifth-round pick in last April’s draft and a player whom the team had a lot of interest in going back to the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.
Jones, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound blocker and first-team All-Big Sky nominee in his final two collegiate seasons, earned the starting job after appearing in 34 games over five seasons for Southern Utah and impressing the Bears with his strong athleticism and football intelligence.
In watching his college film, the 23-year-old Jones shows a quick first step coming off the snap and can react on a dime, and maintain all kinds of lateral movement with rushers on the edge. Jones can even take advantage of his strong arms to lock up his opposition from their chest pads, blocking out any pass rush and opening up a wide rushing lane for the backfield.
The rookie might face a good test against Giants edge rushers in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari, who have returned from missing the first couple of games of the season with injuries. Still, if he keeps his track record up in the NFL, it’s not hard to foresee Jones becoming the Bears’ version of Andrew Thomas.
Lining up one spot over at the left guard position returns seventh-year veteran and lifetime Bear Cody Whitehair. One of the team’s two longest-tenured players on the roster, Whitehair was brought back to give Chicago that dose of experience and stability that they need with a young offensive line.
A former second-round pick in 2016 by the Bears, the 6-foot-3, 316-pound Kansas State alum has been a dependable starter from his very first day in the organization, opening in the starting line 95 out of 96 possible games. His first five seasons saw him play under center before he moved into the current left guard spot in 2021.
Whitehair will be the lineman the Giants’ defense has to watch out for in the option game and outside rushing attack. He tends to serve as the pulling guard on right-side plays in that formation, leading the way for Fields and dragging defensive linemen along for the ride.
Taking the snapping responsibilities at the center position will be a six-year veteran and first-year Bear, Lucas Patrick. The 29-year-old came over to Chicago after spending the beginning of his career with the Green Bay Packers, where he appeared in 73 games and earned 34 starts.
Patrick knows best what it takes to rise from the bottom as a young offensive lineman at the professional level. He was signed to Green Bay in 2016 as an undrafted free agent and had to spend a few seasons battling for recognition in summer camp before he was eventually named the team’s full-time starter in 2020, playing 15 games that year and then 13 in 2021.
Teven Jenkins, a second-year player out of Oklahoma State, will assume the right guard position. Drafted in the second round of 2021 by Chicago, Jenkins is the uncertain link on the Bears’ front line because of the absences he faced with injuries since entering the league.
The 6-foot-6, 321-pound guard missed the first 11 games of his rookie campaign after undergoing back surgery towards the end of training camp. He returned in late December but only played in limited snaps on special teams and at left tackle before succumbing to another ailment in the season's final games.
For Jenkins, the 2022 season will be about proving to the new Bears regime that he can still perform at a high level despite his injury record. To him, that starts with earning the trust of his offense and then letting the on-field numbers speak for themselves.
Finally, the Bears’ offensive front wraps up with Larry Borom at right tackle. Another 2021 draft pick by Chicago, the 23-year-old Borom assumes the role after rotating between the left and right tackle spots during training camp, during which the team decided they were going forward with Jones at the former spot.
In his rookie season, Borom spent eight games at right tackle before serving two games as an injury replacement at left tackle, making him a versatile piece in the event Chicago needs it again in 2022. Aside from that, he’s also shown flashes of the potential mentioned with Jones on the opposite end.
The 6-foot-5, 333-pounder does a serviceable job at securing the right edge against some of the most mobile pass rushers in the league. Using his big body frame, he can stick onto opposing defenders’ rush moves and send them back into friendly traffic, thwarting any chance of pressure on the right side.
Borom is also good at shifting his focus and helping his teammates provide double coverage on inside pressures. This facet of his game could bode well against the Giants' blitz-heavy scheme, which likes to send multiple blisters up the middle to create confusion for opposing fronts.
Join the Giants Country Community
- Sign up for our FREE digest newsletter
- Follow and like us on Facebook
- Submit your questions for our mailbag
- Check out the new Giants Country YouTube Channel.
- Listen and subscribe to the daily LockedOn Giants podcast.
- Subscribe and like the LockedOn Giants YouTube Channel
- Sign up for our FREE message board forums