Tale Of The Tape: New York Giants At Chicago Bears
- QuarterbackThe Giants have gotten off to a miserable start and much of it is on Eli Manning’s shoulders, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of beating a solid team like the Bears. Manning must stop forcing his throws and his offensive line must find a way to give him a pocket, something that has not been done consistently. Expect the pride factor to take over for Manning.While it’s a short week for Jay Cutler and that always brings its own set of problems, Cutler should be quite pleased when he looks at the once-formidable Giants defense. New York is not putting any pressure on opponents with its pass rush and the secondary has been poor in coverage. If Cutler can complete one or two big passes early, look for him to dictate the pace of the league.
- OffenseThe Giants’ inability to run the ball has been a big part of their problems this year. While David Wilson (neck) is an explosive runner, he has to undergo tests before he will be allowed to play. Victor Cruz can run any pattern needed and get open. He has become one of the greatest threats in the league. Hakeem Nicks is a decent threat but he is not always dependable.The Bears have shown much more cohesiveness and creativity under head coach Marc Trestman, and that’s a big reason why they are a viable team. Matt Forte is a superb back capable of running with the ball and receiving, while Brandon Marshall is a game-changing, big-play receiver. Martellus Bennett is one of Cutler’s top red-zone weapons.
- DefenseNobody should be shocked by the way the Giants have played defense this season. That’s because their defensive demise started last year and that slump caused them to miss the playoffs. New York must find a way to generate a consistent pass rush. Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck have failed to do that. Former Panthers linebacker Jon Beason could bring this unit new energy.The Bears know that they are no longer a shutdown defense capable of imposing their will. Instead, they are a smart, sharp unit that can make big plays taking the ball away from opponents. Nobody is better at that than cornerback Charles Tillman, who excels at forcing fumbles and interceptions. Lance Briggs is the leader of the defense and a vicious hitter, while Julius Peppers is the key to the front four.
- Special TeamsThe Giants have been burned in punt and kickoff coverage, and that’s just one more problem for this team. Placekicker Josh Brown is off to an ordinary start and he is not a star. Punter Steve Weatherford gets distance on his kicks but needs more height.The Bears gave up a big play in punt coverage to the Lions in Week Four, but their coverage teams have been solid. Devin Hester is no longer playing wide receiver and his devotion to the return game makes him viable. Robbie Gould is one of the best placekickers in the NFL, but punter Adam Podlesh is a liability.
This will be anything but an easy game for the Bears, who are likely to get the Giants’ best effort in this Thursday night game. Expect the offenses to be a bit disjointed because of the short preparation time. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor