By Bryan Dietzler
The down-on-their-luck Chicago Bears, who are 4-6, will host the even more woeful New York Giants this Sunday at Soldier Field. The Giants were on a bye last week and come into this game with a record of 2-8.
This may be exactly what the Bears need to get back on a winning track. But with their playoff hopes dashed, just what can we expect out of the Bears from this point forward? Will they be wanting to win or will they just be going through the motions?
The following is a preview of the Bears game from a couple of different angles including by the numbers. Although this game may not help the Bears get into the playoffs, the team is still doing some interesting things and well worth covering.
Bears on Offense
Simply put, the Bears stink on offense. They are bad at quarterback, suffering on the offensive line and don’t seem to have any rhythm at running back. The tight end position is a shamble. Perhaps the only unit that’s doing well on offense is the wide receivers but they can’t even get the ball so they are struggling as well. Sometimes they drop the ball (they currently lead the league in drops).
This offense is a mess.
They just cannot seem to score. The proof is in the statistics. With a ranking of 28th in the NFL, the Bears are scoring just 16.9 points per game. That doesn’t cut it. You aren’t going to win many games scoring points like that.
The Bears struggles begin, not at the quarterback position, but the head coaching spot. Matt Nagy’s playcalling leaves a lot to be desired. He’s nowhere near as effective as a play-caller this year as he was last year. Maybe it’s because other teams have figured the Bears. But at any rate, the Bears are poor on offense and it appears as if there is no end in sight.
The Giants defense is allowing teams to score 28.9 points per game. That’s good for 30th in the league. You would have to think that the Bears would be able to score against a defense that weak but you might be surprised. The Bears may falter against this weak defense.
The passing game is manned by Mitchell Trubisky and he has been ok at times but for the most part, he’s been playing poorly. The Bears are sticking by Trubisky, it looks like, even though he is doing so poorly. He appears to be a little bit banged up with a hip issue that took him out of the game on Sunday night (some people don’t think it was a real injury) so that will have to be monitored to see how he does and what his status is for Sunday.
Injury or not, when Trubisky is in the game things happen, some good and some bad. He was able to spark the Bears on a touchdown drive against the Rams and had some good throws against the Lions. But that just a fraction of the time he’s on the field. The rest of the time, he struggles and so does the Bears.
The Bears have a terrible passing game. They are averaging just 182.8 yards per game through the air which is 30th in the league. Chicago needs to get much better at throwing the ball but, likely, that problem isn’t going to get fixed until after this season.
They are going up against a pass defense that is allowing 259 yards per game and is ranked 25th. The Bears could take advantage of this but they will likely be stuck again and not able to pass the ball efficiently. This will help lead to a loss if they can’t figure things out.
It’s been 11 weeks and they still haven’t been able to figure things out.
Will they be able to figure things out against the Giants?
The Bears rushing attack has been just as bad as it’s passing attack. The Bears have not been able to get their running game going and it’s hurt the offense. They are averaging just 79.9 yards per game which is good for a lowly 29th in the NFL. Chicago has the backs, David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen are capable, but they just cannot get that rushing attack going.
They face a defense that’s ranked 23rd in the league allowing 122.7 yards per game on the ground. If the Bears can get their rushing attack going they stand a great chance of winning this game. They should be able to get it going and there isn’t that much of an excuse why they can’t. The only reason they wouldn’t be able to get the rushing attack going would be if they didn’t run the ball.
When it comes to overall yards gained in a game, the Bears are averaging just 262.7 which is 30th in the league. They aren’t getting any yards this year. The Giants are allowing teams to gain a whopping 381.7 yards per game. The Bears have been shown the path to gaining more yards but will they be able to follow that path to success?
It’s not likely.
Look for the Bears to have a little bit better game than they have had in the recent past as long as the play calling and execution is solid. That’s been the problem. The play calling has been very poor and the play on the field has been just as bad. Will that change this Sunday? Who knows.
It’s just too hard to predict.
Bears on Defense
The bright side of the Bears is their defense even though they have struggled at times. The Bears pride themselves on defense and this year’s defense, while not as good as last year’s, is making some good things happen. When good things happen, the team stays in the game, as they have in almost every game that they have played in this year, However, there is that occasional breakdown that happens that helps take them out of the game.
Chicago’s defense had a good second half last week against the Rams and will need to have a similar game going up against Saquon Barkley. If you recall, Barkley had quite the game against the Bears last year and helped to beat them, in overtime. Barkley isn’t having as good of a season as he did last year but he’s still a viable threat and could give the Bears problems.
When we look at the rankings, we see that, in total yards, the Giants are averaging 322.2 yards per game which is good for 24th in the league. Incidentally, that’s better than the Bears’ offense. Chicago’s defense is allowing teams to gain an average of 322.9 yards per game which is 8th in the NFL. As you can see, the Bears defense, when it comes to yardage the Bears can shut people down but their offense can’t score so it’s almost a wash.
The Giants passing game is led by rookie quarterback Daniel Jones who replaced Eli Manning just a few games into the season. The passing game isn’t doing that good or that bad. It’s kind of “middle of the pack”. They are gaining an average of 228 yards per game which is good for 18th in the league. They can put up some passing yards and the Bears need to be aware of that.
One thing that has been sorely missing from the Bears’ defense this year is their pass rush. They haven’t been able to get much of anything going. Their star pass rusher, Khalil Mack has been silent for a better part of the last few weeks. Perhaps this has something to do with Akiem Hicks being out but something must change. The Bears need to get a pass rush going to have success in this game.
The Bears are allowing teams to pass for 227.3 yards per game which is tenth in the league so the Bears and the Giants are just about even. If the Bears can’t get a pass rush going then the Giants could end up gaining a lot more yards through the air and winning this game.
The rushing attack hasn’t been that good for the Giants despite the fact they have someone like Barkley on their side. He has been injured and hasn’t been himself or close to the way he was last year when he had a strong rookie season.
New York is averaging 94.2 yards per game on the ground. That’s good for 22nd in the NFL. The Bears’ defense is allowing teams to rush for 96.6 yards against the run which is 8th in the league. Not that bad. Last week we saw them employ a different defense which allowed them to shut down the Rams rushing attack while daring them to pass. It worked, to an extent.
Can something similar, loading six upfront with a lone linebacker in back of the line work against Barkley? Let’s hope that it does or else it’s going to be a long game.
Finally, when it comes to scoring, the Giants are getting 20.3 points per game which is good enough to beat the Bears because of Chicago’s offense and their inability to score. But, the Bears’ defense is putting the screws to opponents allowing them to score just 17.4 points per game. That’s good for 4th in the league.
Finally, one thing that has hurt the Bears this season is their lack of takeaways. They just haven’t been getting the takeaways like they had last season. Even when they get a takeaway, they can’t seem to capitalize on it. But getting takeaways would help even things out for the Bears and at least give them a chance to win the game. They have to find a way to get those turnovers.
We all know what happened last week to Eddie Pinero. His two missed field goals were huge and could have put the game within reach for the Bears. But he struggled and was a cause for the Bears’ loss. Pinero must get better. It doesn’t look like they are going to replace him so he’s “it”.
He must come through when the Bears need him most.
The return teams need to give the team a spark. Whether it’s returning a kick for a touchdown or getting good field position, the return teams must do something to help get the Bears.
The coaching has been less stellar and the play-calling has been horrible. Nagy is showing some immaturity when dealing with player issues and it almost appears as if we are heading down the same dysfunctional path that we did when Marc Trestman was here. Unless things get better in the next few weeks, if I was ownership, I would seriously consider making a change during the offseason. But it’s not going to happen.
The following are the players that showed up on the injury report in the middle of the week.
Danny Trevathan-LB-Elbow-Did not practice and will likely be out for the game.
Adam Shaheen-TE-Foot-Didn’t practice and will probably be out this Sunday.
Isaiah Irving-LB-Quad-Limited in practice.
Mitchell Trubisky-QB-Hip-Full practice and will most likely start this Sunday.
Bobby Massie-OT-Back-Practiced in full Wednesday.
New York Giants
Rhett Ellisson-TE-Concussion-Did not practice.
Nate Solder-OT-Concussion-Was limited in practice.
Evan Engram-TE-Foot-Did not practice.
Janoris Jenkins-CB-Concussion-He did practice.
Jon Halapio-C-Hamstring-He practiced in full.
Mike Remmers-OT-Back-Full practice.
Sterling Shepard-WR-Concussion-Full practice
This game is one that’s a little difficult to predict. The Giants are technically worse than the Bears but Chicago’s inability to score could put them at a disadvantage. I would suspect that the Bears defense is going to play well but the offense is going to put them in a bad position. I still think the Bears win this game but “bear-ly”.