As the New York Giants prepare for the Chicago Bears on Sunday, we have our own form or preparation here at Big Blue View. That includes learning about the opponent by exchanging 5 questions with a writer who covers this week’s opponent. Let’s get started.
Ed: Let’s get right to it. Mitchell Trubisky. Obviously he led a great comeback last week. Did that change any minds about Trubisky? Do Bears fans believe the team can win a Super Bowl with him at quarterback?
Jeff: I don’t think he changed any minds. PFF put out a great stat - Trubisky finished in the top 3 of negatively graded throws from Sunday’s win. That is, throws that are significantly bad enough to be marked as negative as most QB throws are rated neutral. Oh, he also finished in the top 3 in positively rated throws. Trubisky played a game that gave Bears fans enough ammunition to defend whatever camp they’ve staked a claim. I like to call the part of the fanbase that defends Trubisky through anything the Trubisky Truthers and while some of that fanbase can be a little extreme in defending every mistake he makes as the product of something or someone else, most of them just want him to succeed because he’s a hard worker and a good guy. On the other side are those that have seen enough mistakes and not enough progression to be satisfied that he’s not the answer. A game like the opener in Detroit reinforced both sides of the argument.
Do Bears fans believe they can win a Super Bowl with him? I mean, every fanbase has fans that believe no matter what. That’s the beauty of sports. I’ll answer your question this way - everything has to fall right for the Bears to make a deep playoff run. The defense needs to emerge as an elite unit, the offensive line needs to keep up their Week 1 dominance, wide receivers need to make plays, the team needs to stay healthy, and of course, kickers need to avoid hitting uprights and crossbars. It’s not crazy to think a team can win with defense in this league. The Giants have done it twice this century. But if that’s the way you’re going to try and win football games, the quarterback needs to be good enough to keep that defense fresh and capitalize on short fields. Trubisky hasn’t shown the level of consistency for most fans to put any real stock in beyond the ever-flowing spring of hope and faith at this point.
Ed: You’re game planning for the Giants. How do you stop the Chicago offense? Where are the weaknesses in the defense the Giants could take advantage of?
Jeff: I started doing the 5 questions exchanges full-time in Trubisky’s rookie year and I’ll occasionally get this question and my answer, unfortunately, hasn’t changed. Mix up your coverages and bring whatever blitz package you have. If you sit in a predictable coverage, I don’t care if it’s a zone or man concept, you’re letting Matt Nagy call the right play every time because Trubisky doesn’t have to worry about reading the defense. Some people are convinced he does well against man coverage and maybe that’s true, but I’d be willing to bet it’s predictable coverages that he does well against. I think it might be as easy as varying your coverages frequently but throwing exotic looks or disguising the coverages before the snap seem to be pretty effective ways to make him think and as a result, force mistakes.
Right now, the weakness of this Bears defense looks like it’s up the middle. They really missed Eddie Goldman in the opener against the ageless Adrian Peterson, but they just don’t have that beefeater in the middle to control the run game. Inside Linebackers, Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith had objectively bad games and a lot of that was getting washed out of inside running plays. I’m not thrilled about turning around and staring at Saquon Barkley this week as he’s a singular talent. I think you’ll want to make the Bears prove that they can stop the run first and foremost. The pass rush really didn’t get going on Sunday but they’re too talented to be held down for long. I’d rather take my chances with Barkley than dropping back and hoping your line can hold up for 45 pass plays.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants roster NOT NAMED SAQUON BARKLEY and put him in a Chicago uniform who would it be? Why?
Jeff: I’ll take Dexter Lawrence. 6’4” and 342 pounds? Seriously? I know Gettleman catches some heat for his love of big men but with Lawrence, I understand. He’d be a great fit along that defensive line in navy and orange. Obviously, it would help an immediate need in 2020 with Eddie Goldman opting out of the season, but I think a good philosophy is to keep adding talent to a defensive line.
Ed: Who are some young under-the-radar players for the Bears that Giants fans need to be aware of?
Jeff: The two rookies that saw the most action on Sunday could play an important role this week. Jaylon Johnson stepped in as the second starting CB to All-Pro Kyle Fuller and looked the part. Obviously, the Giants boast a quality receiver group so he’ll be tested again, but I really like what I saw last week against Matthew Stafford. On offense, look for Darnell Mooney, the speedster out of Tulane. He flew up the depth chart throughout the abbreviated camp and had a nice catch and run against the Lions. He’s got speed to burn and I’ll be interested to see if the Bears try to get him loose and let him run under one. Trubisky’s deep accuracy has been a major issue in his career thus far but I think they’ll need to challenge Giants safeties early to stretch the defense.
Ed: Why will the Bears win on Sunday? What will the Giants need to do to pull an upset?
Jeff: I think the Bears are the more complete team at this point (I’m sure your readers will disagree). The Bears might not be the Super Bowl contenders they were hoping to be going into 2020, but they’ve pushed a lot of chips into this season to be competitive. I was highly encouraged by the offensive line play and think that David Montgomery can have some success like Benny Snell did in the Giants’ opening game. While I am worried about Saquon, I have a lot of confidence in the Bears pass rush to get back on track and make Daniel Jones uncomfortable. If they can get him seeing ghosts early, they should be able to lock it down.
The Giants need to simply be smart on defense and do everything they can to confuse Trubisky early and often. Make him beat you over the top and sit on the under routes. Play unpredictably with robbers to pick off underneath throws. On offense, rely on Barkley first and be comfortable winning with only throwing 20-25 passes. By doing that, you’ll tire out and frustrate the defense and walk out with a classic Bears-Giants victory. Good luck to Big Blue starting on Monday!