REBOUNDING FROM FIRST LOSS
After a 2-0 start, the Giants lost their first game of the season on Monday night. Nevertheless, Brian Daboll reiterated the same message to his team after the loss as he did following their two victories to start the year.
"Be consistent," Daboll told the media Tuesday when asked what he said to his players. "It's never as good as you think, never as bad as you think. There's certain things from week to week that we need to improve on. Win with class, and lose with class. When you lose, you even lose with more class. Own it, accept responsibility, fix the things we need to fix and move on. You're going to have these; this is fortunately a short week. The coaches are upstairs; they're not going to get much sleep this week, but you move on pretty quickly in this league whether you win or lose.
"Again, the way they prepared, the things that they did during the week, the effort that they gave – that's what we're looking for. Now, there's certain things that we all can fix to be better. From week to week, I'd say that changes. There's a consistency in how we want to do things, but something might show up this week that didn't show up last week. And now you got to place an emphasis on that, and go out there and be consistent in your preparation. Be consistent in how you practice and get ready to play a game."
Sunday's game is the 63rd all-time meeting between the New York Giants and Chicago Bears. Two of the oldest franchises in the NFL (Bears originated in 1920, the Giants in 1925), the two teams are facing off for the fifth consecutive year, with the Bears having won the previous three contests. Chicago holds the overall lead in the series, 36-24-2. The Giants have won all three games between the two teams in MetLife Stadium, dating back to 2010. Saquon Barkley rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries (5.2 avg.) in a 30-27 overtime victory in the last home meeting in 2018.
Out: CB Cor'Dale Flott (calf), CB Nick McCloud (hamstring), WR Wan'Dale Robinson (knee), WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring), DL Leonard Williams (knee)
Out: S Dane Cruikshank (hamstring), CB Jaylon Johnson, RB David Montgomery (knee/ankle)
Doubtful: LB Matt Adams (hamstring), TE Ryan Griffin (achilles)
Questionable: WR Velus Jones Jr. (hamstring), DE Robert Quinn (illness), K Cairo Santos (personal), LB Sterling Weatherford (ankle)
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Daniel Jones was pressured 24 times Monday night, the the most any quarterback had been pressured this season. He's been sacked 13 times through three weeks, the third-most in the NFL. Credit to the Cowboys' defense, as it leads the NFL in sacks (13) and percentage of times sacked when attempting a pass (11.5 percent), and did a great job of shutting down Tom Brady and Joe Burrow in the first two games of the season.
"We do it every week," Daboll said about putting an emphasis on protecting the quarterback. "We'll try to improve on the things that we need to improve on, coach the fundamentals and whether we got to do different things schematically, we'll look into that. Work on the techniques for the players. Again, you try to work on everything. That's an area that we're always going to focus on, protecting the quarterback."
A positive coming out of the first month is the continued strong play of Andrew Thomas. The left tackle has made a significant jump in Year 3, and even on a night when the line struggled as a unit, Thomas earned the highest PFF grade on the team with his 79.3 overall mark, including a 78.2 run block grade and 77.4 pass block grade (he allowed just two total pressures on 54 pass block plays). His 90.1 overall grade on the season is once again the highest mark among all offensive linemen.
KEEP RUN GAME ROLLING
One area in which the Giants' offense has shined through the first three games is the ground attack. They head into Week 4 averaging 169.3 rushing yards per game, the fourth-highest mark in the league. The team's 5.6 yards per attempt is the second-best in the NFL, trailing only Detroit (5.9). Against the Cowboys, the Giants rushed for 167 yards on 25 attempts, good for an average of 6.7 yards per carry, and a touchdown.
Leading the way for the Giants in Week 3 and all season is Saquon Barkley. The talented fifth-year running back took 14 carries for 81 yards (5.8 avg.) and a score on Monday night and added four receptions for 45 yards. Barkley currently ranks second in the league in rushing yards with 317 (Browns RB Nick Chubb leads with 341), while his 408 total yards from scrimmage is the most in the NFL. Jones added a season-high 79 yards on nine carries (8.8 avg), bringing his season total to 125 yards on the ground (5.0 avg.).
The O-line earned solid run block marks against the Cowboys. Thomas received the top mark with his 78.2, but C Jon Feliciano was not far behind with a 77.0. RT Evan Neal (76.4 run block) and RG Mark Glowinski (75.1 run block) also graded well in the run game.
Chicago enters this matchup allowing 157.0 rushing yards per game, tied with the Seahawks for the second-most in the NFL. While they kept Houston to just 92 yards on the ground last week, the 49ers (176 yards) and Packers (203 yards) had a lot of success running against the Bears defense. Linebacker Roquan Smith is currently tied with Texans S Jonathan Owens for the league-lead with 36 total tackles. Smith has also added an interception, two tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks this season.
FILLING IN FOR SHEP
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard suffered an ACL injury that will cost him the rest of the season. The longest-tenured player on the team, Shepard's 154 receiving yards through three games are the most of any Giant this season, while his 13 receptions are tied for the second-most. Replacing Shepard's production will not be an easy task, but offensive coordinator Mike Kafka believes in the rest of the players in the WR room.
"We'll look for guys to step up and replace that and/or step up and fill those needs and the things we need to do on offense," said the offensive coordinator. "Players have got to rise to the level that we need them to around the entire group in the receiver room. I think guys will do that and I think it starts today in practice."
One player who has risen to the occasion when given the opportunity is Richie James. James is second behind Shepard with 146 receiving yards, while his 14 receptions leads the team. The 27-year-old has been consistent each week, finishing with at least four receptions in every game and catching almost every ball thrown in his direction.
"I think the way it's shaken out, Richie has done a great job stepping in," Kafka said. "We've had some injuries and things like that, but he's stepped up to the plate and you're going to see that across the board when you have injuries like that. Next man up has got to step up. He's a guy that we trust in those situations, and he's done a great job with it."
"I think he's been very consistent," Daboll added on Friday. "He's been out here every day. He's a very trustworthy receiver, he's where he's supposed to be when he's supposed to be there. I think he's earned that confidence, not just from the coaching staff but from the quarterback as well."
View photos from practice as the New York Giants gear up for their Week 4 matchup against the Chicago Bears.
BELLINGER ON THE RISE
Daniel Bellinger's NFL career got off to a slow start after he was not targeted in the season opener against the Titans. However, the rookie tight end has picked it up in the two games since.
Bellinger caught his first NFL reception against the Panthers in Week 2 and took it 16 yards for a touchdown. Then, he caught four passes for 40 yards against the Cowboys. Heading into Week 4, his 70.1 overall grade ranks No. 7 among all tight ends and is the top mark among rookies at the position.
"Bell' has done a great job," said the offensive coordinator. "(Tight ends) Coach (Andy) Bischoff has done a great job with him since he's gotten in here. I think you're just seeing that type of growth from that kid. He's just putting in the work every single day and he's improving. He's improving a lot of things – run blocking, route running. You're seeing it at practice and you're seeing it show up in the game."
KAYVON LOOKS TO BUILD OFF DEBUT
Kayvon Thibodeaux made his NFL debut on Monday. Although he didn't blow up the box score, the rookie outside linebacker put together a solid overall performance. He finished with one solo tackle, a pressure and a pass breakup, and received the third-highest overall mark on the Giants defense with his 73.2 overall grade. Limited to just 37 snaps in his debut, Thibodeaux's overall grade is the highest among rookie edge rushers going into Week 4. Fellow outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari also made his 2022 debut in Week 3. Ojulari, who set the franchise rookie sack record last season with eight, drew two holding penalties on the Cowboys. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale liked what he saw from the pair of pass rushers in their first game back.
"[Thibodeaux] really hasn't practiced that much since the injury," said Martindale. "He's done a lot of rehabbing and all that stuff, but he hasn't done a lot of 11 on 11 work, with Kayvon. As you know, and I think Brian (Daboll) noted, they were on a pitch count. Zeez drew two holding calls, so that tells me that he's doing things right. I think it's nowhere to go but up with those two and I'm excited to see it."
"I feel like it was a pretty good game given the circumstances of the situation and how the game was actually played," Thibodeaux told the media Thursday. "So, I don't think anything's really missing. As far as the team I feel like we could've executed at a higher level in the run defense. I think that kind of got away from us. Individually, I feel like I could've executed more but health-wise I feel confident in being able to deliver on the field."
Thibodeaux came out of his first game healthy and will look to build on his performance in Week 3 against the Bears. One of the biggest things the No. 5 overall pick picked up on in his first NFL action? You can't do everything yourself.
"I would say that you're not superman," the rookie OLB said about what he learned on Monday. "There are times where you want to be the reason we win, there are times where you want to be the guy and you've got to realize that the game isn't played like that. There are eleven people for a reason, it's a team sport for a reason. So just making sure that you contribute as much as you can and to the best of your ability given the circumstances."
CHANGES AT CB
The Giants have been forced to make some lineup changes at several positions due to injuries in the first month of the season, with cornerback being one of them. Veteran Adoree' Jackson has been consistent on the outside, staying on the field for nearly every defensive snap thus far this year. Jackson has registered 16 tackles (12 solo), one pass breakup and a fumble recovery through the first three games.
While Darnay Holmes has handled the slot, the Giants have had a bit of a revolving door at the other outside corner spot. Aaron Robinson manned the spot in the season opener and played well as he picked up 73.4 overall, 72.4 coverage and 78.3 tackling grades from PFF. The second-year corner had to have his appendix removed soon after and missed the next two games.
The Giants saw two players step up in Robinson's absence, Fabian Moreau and Cor'Dale Flott. In his first game with the Giants back in Week 2, Moreau was on the field for 17 snaps and earned a 69.5 overall grade, which included a 75.4 tackling trade and 67.5 coverage grade. His overall mark was the fourth-highest on the defense. On Monday, the veteran played 39 snaps at cornerback and got 70.8 overall and 79.1 tackling grades, which helped him raise his overall season grade to 72.9 and his coverage grade to 71.0. As for Flott, the rookie earned a 68.8 overall grade against the Cowboys, while his 73.2 run defense grade was the third-highest on the team.
Daboll told the media on Friday that Flott "probably won't be able to go this week," and the corner was later ruled out on the final injury report. Meanwhile, Robinson practiced fully Friday and was not given an injury designation, meaning the second-year corner will play Sunday. Moreau is likely to see some action as well.
SCOUTING THE BEARS
The Chicago Bears make it no secret what they want to do on offense – they want to pound the ball on the ground. The Bears are the most run-heavy team (65%) in the NFL and enter Week 4 ranked second in the league in both rushing attempts (104) and yards (560). David Montgomery suffered knee and ankle injuries in last week's win, and he will not suit up this weekend after being ruled out Friday. Montgomery has averaged 4.5 yards per carry this season, taking 35 carries for 159 yards. With Montgomery out, Khalil Herbert will take over as the starting running back. Stepping in for the injured starter last week, Herbert ran the ball 20 times for an impressive 157 yards (7.9 avg.) and two touchdowns against the Texans. He has 240 yards on 33 carries (7.3 avg.) and three touchdowns.
"We're going to have a great test this week because an elite running game is coming to town here at MetLife," said the defensive coordinator. "We have to make sure we're on point every single play because they have two really good backs, and their quarterback is phenomenal with the ball in his hands as well… those backs are explosive backs who run hard, old school hard. That offensive line, they work well together, especially in the run game.
As Martindale mentioned, Justin Fields is also a threat to run with the ball. The second-year quarterback has registered 27 rushing attempts this season and has gained 95 yards with a touchdown. The former No. 11 overall pick ran for 420 yards on 72 carries (5.8 avg.) with two touchdowns last year.
"Really, it's one of those things that you've got to know where to attack and how to attack," Martindale said about being aggressive with pressures against a mobile QB. "I think that we'll work on that this week and try to give him some different looks, but he's big and strong and he can run. We've got our work cut out for us."
"I recruited Justin, down in Georgia," Daboll added. "That was the year that he came out with (Jacksonville quarterback) Trevor (Lawrence) and they were both top-notch quarterbacks coming out of high school. He was an impressive, impressive player. We went and watched him, had a chance to meet with him when he came up on a visit, his family. I have a lot of respect for him, I think he's a very talented player, athletic, but he's a good, young quarterback and I think he has a bright future."
View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Chicago Bears.