The Bears travel to the Meadowlands to play the New York Giants in a battle of 2-1 teams
Let’s look at the New York Giants by position group to see how they stack up:
Quarterback: Daniel Jones comes into this season having to prove that he can be franchise quarterback for the Giants. His record as a starting quarterback is 14-26 and while not all of the losing has been his fault, he has not lived up to the expectations that team had when they drafted him 6th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Jones has to impress the new general manager Joe Schoen who has replaced Dave Gettleman who resigned (cough: fired!) and his new head coach Brian Daboll. Both Schoen and Daboll were not in the draft room when Jones was selected so they are trying to see if Jones is the quarterback to get the Giants to their first playoff appearance since 2016. The Giants declined the fifth-year option on Jones this offseason which has put him in a situation that if Jones cannot perform well this could be his last season with Big Blue. I would imagine Schoen and new head coach Brian Daboll are constantly evaluating if they will bring back Jones in 2023 and games like this against the Bears a team they are favored to beat will factor in that evaluation. Currently, he ranks 27th in QBR and has not passed for over 200 yards in a single game this season. But he has reduced his turnovers and has lead two game wining drives this year so far. Prior to Monday’s game vs the Cowboys, Jones had attempted the third fewest passes in the league which shows you that Daboll is not yet trusting in him to run this offense.
Running Back: Saquan Barkley is the current starter at running back and is trying to prove that he can be a durable centerpiece of this offense. The last two seasons have been filled with injuries for Barkley missing 17 of the last 32 games. Like Jones, Barkley is also playing for a long-term contract and is playing on the last year of his rookie contract. Also, he is playing for a general manager and coach who did not draft him as well but it seems like he has earned more trust in his talents than Jones so far. The Giants have had sixteen plays of over 20+ yards and Barkley has had 13 of those plays. Barkley is 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards which is not good for this Bears defense that is currently tied with Seattle for giving up the 2nd most rushing yards in the league so far.
Offensive Line: Coming into the game with Dallas, this offensive line was blocking for the 2nd leading rusher in the league (Barkley) and had ranked in the middle of league in sacks and quarterback pressures allowed. On Monday, this line gave up 21 quarterback pressures which was the most times that Daniel Jones had been pressured in his career and gave up 5 sacks. Last year through three games, Jones had been sacked eight times but this year he has been sacked 13 times already.
The star of the offensive line this year has been left tackle Andrew Thomas who is one of two tackles in the league who has not allowed a sack or had a penalty this season. Thomas is the only returning starter on the offensive line who started more than one game last year. The Bears ranked in the middle of the league in sacks but in week 2 vs the Packers had nine quarterback hits. The Bears will need to take advantage of this rebuilt offensive line in particular rookie tackle Evan Neal who has given up 4 sacks already this year.
Wide Receivers: This group has been a disappointment this year and the poster child of that disappointment has been wide receiver Kenny Golladay. Golladay signed a 4 year, $72 million deal in 2021 and is making $21.1 million dollars this year which makes him the highest paid player on the team. In the 17 games that he has been available for the Giants, he has 39 catches and 543 yards receiving and has not got caught a touchdown pass. Golladay has become a potential trade candidate this year. The Giants are depending on two often-injured wide receivers to bring some explosive plays to the passing game. Sterling Shephard has only played 31 out of the last 50 games due to injuries including tearing his Achilles heel in last year’s game vs Dallas (Editor’s Note: Shephard torn the ACL in his left knee on the last play of the game vs Dallas on Monday and will miss the rest of the season). Kadarious Toney missed 13 games last year due to an assortment of injuries and missed last week’s game vs Dallas. If Toney or someone else can make catches that can help ease the burden on Barkley to generate big plays for this offense.
Tight Ends: The Giants finally let perennial disappointment Evan Engram leave in free agency last offseason and replaced him with rookie TE Daniel Bellinger. Bellinger has caught a total of 5 passes this season and is more known for his blocking than his pass-catching. The Bears have yet to face a significant threat at tight end this year and that will continue this week.
Defensive Line: Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is tied for first on the team in quarterback knockdowns and pressures. The Giants defensive line has the potential to be dangerous with the addition of Kevon Thibodeaux who the Giants drafted 5th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. Thibodeaux has been hyped since he was 17 years old as pass-rushing terror and will be playing his second NFL game after missing the Giants first two games with a knee injury that happened in the preseason. Leonard Williams the other starting defensive tackle leads this group in tackles. The Giants defensive line could be one of the best in the league before the end of the season.
Linebackers: The group also has played well so far and also just added another defensive playmaker from the injured list to this group. Linebacker Azeez Olujari who suffered a calf injury in the preseason played his first game this far this past week vs Dallas. Olujari was a bright spot for the defense last year leading the team in tackle for loss and sacks last season. This season, outside linebacker Jihad Ward according to Pro Football Reference has been their best linebacker against the pass and has the 2nd most tackles on the team. The group was key in holding running back Derrick Henry to 82 yards in their week 1 win vs the Titans and then holding Baker Mayfield to only 145 yards passing. In my opinion, the Giants would be the third-best linebacking corps the Bears have went against so far this year but are a fast and physical group that will probably cause this Bears offense to struggle.
Secondary: The secondary has also taken a step forward in providing tight man to man coverage and confusing quarterbacks with blitzes and pressures which is a mainstay in defensive coordinator Wink Martindale scheme. Martindale is the new defensive coordinator that was let go by the Baltimore Ravens last year and joined Daboll’s staff in New York. The Giants have only allowed four passing touchdowns in three games and only one quarterback has thrown more than 200 yards against them this season. Adoree Jackson has been a standout this year for the Giants. Quarterbacks are only completing 20% of their passes when targeting him which leads the league according to Pro Football Reference. The other starting defensive back Darney Holmes has been solid this year as well. Safety Julian Love leads the teams in tackles and is tied for first in tackles for loss. The Bears struggling pass offense will get no breaks when they travel to MetLife Stadium on Sunday with this group.
Special Teams: The Giants had a field goal blocked in their last game vs the Cowboys however kicker Graham Gano had been perfect on extra points and field goals before that blocked kick. Gano has already made four 50 plus-yard field goals this year and with the expectations of rain showers for this game on Sunday the kicking game will be crucial for both teams.
Punter Jamie Gillan is sixth in the league in average punt yards so getting good field position between these two struggling offenses will be key.
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