The Giants host the Bears on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are 2-1 and have very similar point differentials this season with the Bears at -5 and the Giants at -3. The Bears defeated Houston, 23-20, in Week 3 when Cairo Santos hit a game-winning 30 yard field goal as time expired.
When the Bears have the ball…
1. Justin Fields started 10 games as a rookie before embarking on his second season under new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who came on board with Matt Eberflus this off-season. The Bears have employed a run-first offense that has limited Fields to only 45 pass attempts in three games. He has completed only 51.1% of his passes for 297 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He has a 50.0 quarterback rating and Pro Football Focus has tracked him with six turnover-worthy plays this season, which is the 6th-most in the NFL.
Fields has been sacked 10 times, despite only dropping back to pass 67 times. The Bears have allowed sacks on 22% of their pass attempts, which leads the league by a wide margin. They have an 8% higher rate than the 31st-ranked team. This is not completely the fault of the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, Justin Fields has the league's longest average time to throw (3.32 seconds). The Bears 52% pressure rate allowed is the highest in the league, according to PFF.
Fields (6-3, 228) is an excellent athlete with good size. He is adept at creating time with his legs to complete passes down the field, or run the ball. Fields has 95 rushing yards this season. He also has elite arm talent and is not afraid to roll to one side of the field, and throw back the other way.
Running back David Montgomery leads the team with four receptions. Last year's top receiver, Darnell Mooney, has only four catches for 27 yards, while Equanimeous St. Brown has four catches for 77 and tight end Cole Kmet has two catches for 40. The Bears only have five completions of 20+ yards, which is tied for 30th in the NFL. Their 29 plays of 10+ yards is the third-lowest in the NFL.
2. The Bears want to run the football. They lead the league in the first half, second half, and overall rush rate, coming in at over 62% in all of those categories. They also rush it 61% on first downs, but that only ranks fifth-highest in the NFL. The Bears run play-action 39% of the time, which ranks fifth in the NFL.
Starter David Montgomery left the game last week with ankle and knee injuries and his status for Sunday is in question. The Bears' offense functioned just fine with backup Khalil Herbert, who ran for 157 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns. According to PFF, Montgomery is fifth in the NFL in missed tackles forced per rush attempt, while Herbert comes in at 14th in that category. Herbert has nine run of 10+ yards this year. The Bears have the second-most runs of 10+ yards this season (18) and their five runs of 20+ yards are also tied for second-most in the league.
The Bears have struggled converting third downs when they are not in favorable down and distance situations. On third-and-6+ yards, they are converting at just 10.5% (tied for second-worst in the NFL). The Bears are more efficient on third downs between four and six yards (54.5%, eighth) and under four yards (80%, second).
3. The Bears have been rotating players at right guard, with 2021 second-round pick Teven Jenkins splitting snaps with Lucas Patrick. Jenkins started there the first two weeks, while Patrick started in Week 3 and got more of the snaps. Patrick is a natural center but has a fractured thumb, so the team moved him to guard. Rookie fifth-round pick Braxton Jones is the starting left tackle, with 2021 fifth-round pick Larry Borom at right tackle. According to PFF, Jones has allowed three sacks and six hurries this season, while Borom has allowed two sacks, a quarterback hit and two hurries. Veteran Cody Whitehair starts at left guard with Sam Mustipher at center.
No one is averaging fewer yards than the Bears (265 per game) but they have managed to score 17 points per game because of their success in the red zone, where 71% of their chances have resulted in touchdowns (sixth in NFL).
Chicago plays "11" personnel 52.5% of the time, but has used two running backs with one tight end and two receivers on nearly 20% of their plays. Fullback Khari Blasingame has played 39 snaps this season. The Bears have used two or more tight ends on just under 30% of their plays.
Keys for the Giants defense
*Stop the run on early downs at all costs
*Make Justin Fields play from behind and/or in adverse down and distance situations to force him into turnovers
*Prevent big plays on the ground – whether from the running backs or Justin Fields
Once again, the New York Giants are bringing back their classic blue uniforms from the '80s and '90s this Sunday as part of two Legacy Games presented by Quest.
When the Giants have the ball…
4. The Bears' defense is rated 11th in total DVOA (-2.9%) according to Football Outsiders, an overall metric indicating the effectiveness of a defense. They have performed better against the pass than run this season, though those numbers may be warped by a storm-filled game with the 49ers in Week 1.
The Bears have five takeaways (three INT, 2 FR), which is tied for seventh in the NFL. Veteran safety Eddie Jackson has two of those interceptions, one of which he returned for 26 yards. He is joined at safety by rookie second-round pick Jaquan Brisker.
The Bears play Cover-1 (man-to-man with a single-high safety) on 31.6% of their snaps, which is the second-most in the league. They also mix in a lot of Cover-2 (20.4%, sixth) and Cover-3 (32%, 15th).
Undrafted rookie free agent Jaylon Jones played 30 snaps at right cornerback last week, while second-round rookie Kyler Gordon is playing outside and inside corner. According to Pro Football Focus, Gordon has allowed 19 caches for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Kindle Vildor, a fifth-rounder from 2020, is the team's starting left cornerback. Jaylon Johnson started at cornerback for the Bears the first two weeks, but a quad injury held him out of Week 3, and it is unknown whether or not he will play on Sunday after missing practice on Wednesday.
The Bears have struggled stopping opposing offense in third-down situations of more than six yards, allowing a 40% conversion rate (fifth in the NFL).
5. The Bears get sacks on 7% of opponent pass attempts, which ranks 13th. Defensive end Trevis Gipson leads the Bears with 2.5 sacks, despite playing the fifth-most snaps among defensive linemen (73). According to PFF, he also leads the Bears in pressures with 10. Right end Robert Quinn is the team's most accomplished pass rusher with one sack, a quarterback hit, and six total pressures, according to PFF. Dominique Robinson has 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hits.
The Bears pressure the pass on only 23.8% of their snaps (sixth-lowest in the NFL). They've only blitzed 13 times this season, which is fewer than every team in the NFL except for the Bills (just five times). To make up for their lack of blitzes, the Bears will use stunts and twists on 28.7% of their snaps (seventh-most).
The Bears have three veteran linebackers in Nicholas Morrow (MLB), Joe Thomas and Roquan Smith. Smith (team-leading 18 tackles) is a fast downhill player with a half-sack, interception, a quarterback hit and two tackles for loss. Chicago is allowing 4.76 yards per rush play (19th).
Keys for the Giants offense
*Run the ball successfully and for big plays
*Try some longer-developing play-action passes down the field
*Try to isolate Saquon Barkley in man-to-man situations in the passing attack down the field