The Chicago Bears (8-3) will face off against the New York Giants (3-8) on Sunday afternoon in a game where the Bears are expected to win. The Giants have been a disappointment to say the very least this season. The Bears will be without their starting quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, for the second straight week as he continues to rest that injured shoulder.
However, Chase Daniel should still be able to find some success against an underwhelming Giants defense. I took a deeper look at this Giants defense and came away with some things the Bear scan expect.
Up front, the Giants have nothing to really intimidate an offense. Oliver Vernon was once an above average pass rusher and solid in the run game, but he has not played up to his potential this year. He battled a high ankle sprain to start the season but nonetheless has not lived up to his lofty $85 million contracts. He has just one sack which game all the way back in week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Third-round rookie B.J Hill is the left defensive end and has been solid this year. He is not wrecking games by any means, but he has played well and should see the field more and more. He has 2 sacks on the season and provides some of the little pass rush this team has to offer.
At defensive tackle, we have Dalvin Tomlinson but can also see Mario Edwards occasionally slide inside from defensive end. Tomlinson is more of typical run-stuffing defensive tackle, whereas Edwards provides the pass rush. Edwards proved to be one of the better rushers on the team in their last victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Josh Mauro occupies the other end spot and may be the best lineman for them this season. He has often graded in the top 5 in edge defenders against the run according to PFF. He does a nice job of setting the edge and forcing things back inside which is what any good edge defender must do. This defensive front is nothing spectacular, but they have some guys who can play. There has been essentially zero pass rush this season, however, as the Giants have just 14 sacks which ranks 31st in the league ahead of only Oakland Raiders (thanks again Gruden).
Alec Ogletree and B.J Goodson are the two inside linebackers with Ogletree being the much more athletic of the two. He is having a solid year thus far with 68 tackles, a sack, four passes defended, and two interceptions, including one, returned for a touchdown.
He can have some difficulties getting off of blocks and finishing tackles but is the best linebacker on this team nonetheless. Goodson struggles in pass coverage and can be in for a nightmare with the way the Bears use their running backs in the passing game. He was picked apart in the Buccaneers game a couple weeks ago, and if he is on the field I see no reason why that doesn’t continue this week.
Another rookie, Lorenzo Carter, will see time at the other outside linebacker spot opposite Vernon after making his first start a couple weeks ago. He has shown some promise in his rookie season with 2 sacks thus far, tied for the team lead. Yes, a mere 2 sacks is good for the team lead.
The two outside cornerbacks are Janoris Jenkins and B.W Webb. Webb has just one interception this season and only three in his entire six-year career. He has not played on the same team for consecutive seasons in his career, which paints the picture here.
He is more a depth piece and solid special teams contributor. However, he has found himself in a starting spot after the Giants traded away Eli Apple. Jenkins is the better corner here but has definitely seen a decline in his play this year. It looks like age might be catching up with him as he is unable to catch up with anyone this season.
The Giants elevated Michael Thomas to starting slot corner this season after being a special teams captain. He has arguably been the best cover guy they have. He was originally signed to play safety but has seen the field more as the nickel guy. Since he is a safety first, they often use him on blitzes from the nickel spot.
The free safety and strong safety spots are occupied by Curtis Riley and Landon Collins. Collins is the guy to look at here obviously. The free safety spot has been a revolving door this season for the Giants and will definitely be something they look to address this offseason. Collins is the best player on this defense and is probably the only guy you need to know where is at all times. He leads the team with 91 combined tackles and is an enforcer on defense. He isn’t the best cover guy, however, and that is something that can be exploited by Trey Burton and company.
Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator: Pat Shurmur/James Bettcher
Bettcher is in his first year as the Giants defensive coordinator after being in the same role with the Arizona Cardinals. If we remember anything about the Cardinals defense from years past it is that they blitzed. A lot. Many expected that to carry over once Bettcher joined the Giants, but the truth is that has slowed down. The Giants defense simply does not have the same playmakers those Cardinal teams had.
The Giants run a 3-4 defense, but will most times show four down linemen in their sets. However, I realized that almost every play saw four guys with their hand in the dirt with two linebackers and then Collins sliding into the box. So, while the personnel may seem like a 3-4 look, it is essentially a 4-3 with a safety moving down to linebacker.
Majority of their looks will come out of the 4-2-5 alignment. It is because of this alignment that the Giants are often gashed in the run game. They have trouble filling their gaps and that is exactly what happened last week where the Eagles were to able pound the rock in the second half. They come into this game ranked 26th in rush yardage giving up 125.5 a game. If there was ever a game for the Bears to get the run game working, it is this one.
More times than not, they will give you a single high safety with Landon Collins sliding down into the box. They will also sit in a zone on most plays because they simply do not possess the pass rush or quality defensive backs to stay in man coverage.
In the red zone, they went to cover 4 looks most times against the Eagles where Landon Collins would start in the box and bail out to take his deeper quarter of the field at the snap. The issue again is without a real threat of a pass rush, someone is bound to run open in a soft zone like that.
This defense is not very good when you simply take a look at the numbers. However, a pitiful offense can take on some of the blame by allowing short fields and not being able to sustain drives. The Bears should be able to get the running game going this week with Daniels making his second start. On the other hand, with how nonexistent the Giants pass rush is, Daniels should be able to have time and find his playmakers through the air.
Matchup the Giants can exploit: Landon Collins vs. Chase Daniel
I’m sure Giants fans everywhere are calling for Collins to be blitzed more often. If there is not going to be consistent pass rush, then blitzing Collins needs to happen. He is an excellent rusher from the safety spot and can make plays all over the field. Daniels knows this offense well, but he is not early as athletic as Trubsiky. If the Giants are able to dial up some blitzes with Collins, it can throw off Daniels’ rhythm with the offense as he will only be seeing his second game action this season.
Matchup Bears can exploit: Tarik Cohen vs. Giants linebackers
As mentioned earlier, the Giants linebackers cannot cover a pot if handed the lid. They have struggled all season with covering backs and this week they face arguably one of the best in that facet of the game. Cohen should be able to get open at will when coming out of the backfield if he gets a linebacker in coverage. Furthermore, both of Daniels’ passing touchdown last week came to running backs so it is clear that he likes to go to them when available.
Without Trubisky the Bears offense is not nearly as explosive, but it is still solid. The Giants defense does not pose a real threat to them this week and therefore Daniels and company should be able to find some success. The truth of the matter is that they may only need a field goal or so to win this game with how dominating the defense has been and how pathetic the Giants offense is. Bears win big this week and move that much closer to clinching the NFC North.
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