The New York Giants close out a three-week home stretch this weekend against a struggling Chicago Bears team that rolls into MetLife Stadium with a 2-1 record despite having many of the same issues the Giants are experiencing. Let's check in with Bear Digest publisher Gene Chamberlain to get the low-down on the Giants' next opponent.
How have the Bears stayed above water despite an inconsistent passing attack?
Inconsistent is rather generous. They've been so bad that Darnell Mooney has four catches for 27 yards after he went over 1,000 yards last year, and Justin Fields has a 50.0 passer rating.
However, new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy truly believes in using whatever is necessary to win games and not wasting plays. They've seen teams pointing their defensive ends straight upfield to prevent all the bootleg passes the Bears want to run with Fields in this new offense. So, instead of bootleg passes, they keep handing off and running at the edge of the line for big yardage. It's why they're second in the league in rushing.
Because they have Fields, it figures they'll have a lot of rushing yards, but he hasn't been that effective running yet except for a couple of plays. It's mainly been Khalil Herbert, David Montgomery, and a running game somewhat in a mold of what Philadelphia had last year.
Justin Fields is in Year 2 of his NFL career. Which direction is the arrow pointing for his career, and what do you think has been holding him back?
It's definitely been a down arrow for him since he threw two touchdown passes in the rain during the opener against the 49ers. He looks like he did early last year in his rookie season during his first five starts.
In his last five starts last year, his passer rating and touchdown passes jumped. Well, this year, everything reverted to the way he started as a rookie, and it seems to be the result of a learning new offense already in his second season.
He hadn't established himself much last year anyway with ten starts, and now he's slow to read things and then react exactly like he was early last year. It's part of the reason NextGen Stats says he holds the ball longer this year than any quarterback.
Who are some of the underrated names on the Bears roster that Giants fans should be aware of?
Their entire roster, actually. They are about as nondescript as it gets after putting together an opening day roster with 15 rookies and 34 players who weren't in Chicago in the past.
New York Giants: First Look at Philadelphia Eagles’ Offense
Let's get to know who's who on the Eagles.
New York Giants First Look: Philadelphia Eagles Defense
Let's break down what the Giants can expect from the Eagles defense on Sunday.
I went to talk to someone this week about what it's like facing Saquon Barkley when he is healthy, like in 2018 when the Giants beat the Bears in New Jersey, and the only player on defense still here who did that was Eddie Jackson, who actually was the one who injured Barkley's ACL in 2019.
But if you wanted someone completely underrated, it would be linebacker Nicholas Morrow, a free agent from the Raiders who they installed at middle linebacker while moving Roquan Smith to weakside linebacker.
Morrow is fast, diagnoses, and arrives with authority tackling the right way. On offense, it might be fullback Khari Blasingame. Their running game, the former Titans fullback. Their running seems to take on new life with that lead blocker in the game.
Which matchup has you most intrigued and why?
Giants receiver Richie James against Bears slot cornerback Kyler Gordon. The Bears' top draft pick, Gordon, was a second-rounder they trained at inside and outside cornerback.
Most of the time, he's playing in the slot. He makes plenty of mistakes, but it's easy to see him absorbing the mistakes and improving with each game.
What are some of the biggest differences in the Bears defense under this regime, and who or what has been the key to the Bears defense’s success so far?
The HITS principle (hustle, intensity, takeaways, smart play) of Matt Eberflus is the reason for their success in a 4-3 now after being in a 3-4 for seven years. It's cliche, but it works.
They have to run in practice so much and are graded hard on whether they're hustling to the ball, so they all are conditioned better than ever. It shows up in the second half of games. They've improved as games went along and opponents wore out.
They haven't given up a second-half touchdown. Even Green Bay had trouble with them in the second half. And they'll get even better now as Roquan Smith figures out his role as a weakside linebacker. He won last week's game for them and said he's just starting to figure it all out.
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