LAKE FOREST – After gutting out a win over the Houston Texans last week at Soldier Field, the Bears will fly to East Rutherford, New Jersey, for a Week 4 matchup against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
This will be the fifth consecutive season that the Bears and Giants have squared off. The Bears have won the past three matchups. The Giants’ last win against the Bears came in an overtime game at MetLife Stadium in 2018 when Bears QB Chase Daniel was starting in place of injured Mitch Trubisky.
The Bears and Giants kick off at noon Sunday on Fox.
1. Two teams in similar situations
Looking big picture at these two teams, the Bears and the Giants are in similar places. Both teams have first-year general managers and first-year head coaches who are taking over teams that struggled last year. Both teams have young quarterbacks on rookie contracts and the teams are trying to figure out what they want to do with those quarterbacks moving forward.
With Justin Fields, the Bears have a little more time to let him learn on the job. On the other hand, New York QB Daniel Jones is in the final year of his rookie deal, and the Giants easily could move on from him after this season.
All that said, both teams hold somewhat surprising 2-1 records through three weeks of play. Someone is going to be sitting at 3-1 after Sunday.
2. Run, run, run
So far, through three weeks, the Bears and Giants are two of the most run-heavy offenses in football. The Bears are second with 186.7 rushing yards per game, while the Giants are fourth with 169.3 rushing yards per game.
Neither coaching staff has shown a particularly strong trust in its respective quarterback to air it out. In a 32-team league, Jones ranks 25th among QBs with 92 passing attempts entering Week 4, while Fields ranks 32nd with 45 attempts.
Heading into Week 4, Giants running back Saquon Barkley ranks second in the NFL with 317 rushing yards (behind only Cleveland’s Nick Chubb with 341). The Bears’ Khalil Herbert ranks seventh with 240 yards, and he didn’t even see significant playing time until David Montgomery injured his ankle last week.
3. Pressure time?
Nobody is allowing defenses to pressure the quarterback more than the Giants and the Bears. According to Pro Football Reference, the Giants are allowing pressure on 40% of Jones’ drop backs, while the Bears are allowing pressure on 35.9% of Fields’ drop backs. Both QBs rank near the bottom of the league in sacks allowed. Jones ranks third worst with 13 sacks allowed. Fields ranks sixth worst with 10 sacks allowed.
That is a recipe for an ugly game.
This is a golden opportunity for Robert Quinn and the Bears’ pass rush to break out. Bears pass rushers have only six sacks in three games.
“We want our four-man rush to get going there, and we will get that going, but certainly we need to have some [pressure] from other spots as well,” head coach Matt Eberflus said.
4. Khalil Herbert’s big opportunity?
Montgomery already has been ruled out for Sunday’s game. That means Herbert will be the starting running back Sunday.
Herbert has seen significant action in only one game but already is a top-10 back in the league in terms of rushing yards. Most of that came last week after Montgomery left the game with the ankle injury. Herbert ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 3 win over Houston.
“What I’ve got to do, I’m going to do,” Herbert said. “Get my body right. It’s up to me. I’ve got to be a professional this week. But I’m definitely ready for it.”
Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson also has been ruled out. Look for Kindle Vildor to play a lot and Jaylon Jones to serve as the fifth DB off the bench.
5. Can the passing game improve?
Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said this week that the Bears don’t need to open up the passing game because it’s already wide open. The fact that Fields ranks 32nd in pass attempts seems to indicate otherwise.
The bottom line is the Bears need Fields to play better than he did against Houston, when he threw for 106 yards and two interceptions. The microscope will remain on the quarterback all season. After three underwhelming performances, the pressure to improve is only going to grow.
The Giants’ defense hasn’t created much of a pass rush, with only three sacks, and has yet to record an interception. This should be the type of defense Fields can attack.