By Jeff Joniak-
Offense: Hit ‘Em Fast & Furious
Everything the Bears didn’t do in their first five offensive possessions against the Saints they will try to accomplish against the Giants. They want to own more of the clock, which they failed to accomplish in Week 5.
The Giants have no sustained run game and they are turnover heavy with 19 giveaways. Factor in a league worst third down offense and it equals only 26-minutes of possession time. The Bears want to keep chipping away at that clock and own the tempo of the game. They’ve already given up at least 31 points in each game, tying an NFL record set by the Chicago Cardinals in 1954 and on average are allowing more than 36 points, while scoring less than 17.
The Giants are not getting off the field on third down, they are not pressuring the quarterback and they are not taking the ball away. In fact, in points off turnovers, the Giants have been outscored 62 to six.
As recently as 2011, the Giants pass rush was sacking quarterbacks at an alarming rate of 7.3% which was second in the NFL, but they are on a 10-game streak dating to last season without getting at least two sacks in a game and have just five for the season.
They have already been outscored by 100 points. This could be a great test of focus and resolve for the Bears to get an offense that Marc Trestman feels is “getting close” to having a bust-out performance even on a short week.
Defense: Turn Up The Heat
Citing improvement in their run fits and tackling against the Saints, Marc Trestman’s defense now looks to turn up an already hot flame on Eli Mannng’s Giants. The two-time Super Bowl winning QB tossed three interceptions on consecutive fourth quarter drives in Sunday’s loss at home to Philadelphia.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin thinks Manning is trying too hard. However, the Giants running game is stalled, and their offensive line is struggling badly. With so many clutch throws on Manning’s resume, I find it hard to believe he won’t come out refocused and on point against the Bears. He’s already been picked off 12 times, so the Bears secondary will be hawking his throws and looking for the ball.
Manning has been sacked 15 times and his 65.8 quarterback rating is one of the worst in the NFL. Coverage has to be keen on Victor Cruz. He’s been a bright spot for the Giants with 31 receptions, four for touchdowns and better than 15 yards/catch. As a team, the Giants are averaging just 3.3 yards per rush
Special Teams: Pick Up Where You Left Off
Special Team Coordinator Joe DeCamillas put a lot of focus on smart, mistake-free football in advance of the Saints game and the unit responded with a very good performance. Punter Adam Podlesh eliminated the return game with good distance, direction, and hang time and the coverage units played with an edge.
The Giants appear to be vulnerable in punt coverage after giving up touchdowns to Denver’s Trindon Holliday and Kansas City’s Dexter McCluster. The Giants are struggling in nearly every area of special teams as well, which is reflective in their overall performance as a team. They are also without their kick return ace David Wilson.
Intangibles: Jump On Them Early
For the first time in his NFL career, Tom Coughlin is 0-5. Not even his 1995 expansion Jacksonville Jaguars suffered this much. He’s a tremendous leader, and how he frames this matchup with the Bears may say a lot about what kind of team comes out of the locker room.
Bears head coach Marc Trestman bemoaned what he called an “extremely disappointing loss” to the Saints at home. Furthermore, he called the offensive start “unacceptable” and “terribly disappointing.” These teams have combined for seven straight losses and you can understand why Trestman early in the week called for his team to get “emotionally invested” in this game.
This will be a game requiring a sense of urgency. That being said, the Bears will be gunning for the kind of fast start that makes a winless team start thinking like the mountain is just too steep to climb. It might have backfired on Giants GM Jerry Reese who opened training camp with a Super Bowl countdown clock in the locker room, wanting to create a sense of “urgency” about the 2013 Giants.
Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play voice of the Chicago Bears on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. You can follow Jeff on Twitter@JeffJoniak.