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Giants vs. Bears storylines: Saquon Barkley returns to Chicago, QB choice, more

Here are few things to pay attention to this week when the Giants face the Chicago Bears

NFL: New York Giants at Chicago Bears Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s check a few of the storylines to pay attention to this week as the New York Giants travel to face the Chicago Bears in a Week 17 game between two of the NFL’s worst teams.

Quarterback quandary

Mike Glennon and the Giants’ offense were bad enough in three starts that head coach Joe Judge turned to Jake Fromm, who was on the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad less than a month ago, to make his first NFL start last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Things went so badly for Fromm that Glennon was back behind center for the Giants before the end of the third quarter.

What do the Giants do now? They waffle.

“We’ll decide based on how they practice,” Judge said Sunday night. “We’ll see how these guys do.”

Glennon has completed only 55.1 percent of his passes this season. He has four touchdown passes, but eight interceptions. His passer rating is 55.7 and his QBR is just 19.0. Fromm went went just 6 of 17 for 25 yards and an interception on Sunday. His passer rating was 19.5.

No matter which quarterback is playing, the Giants playing something approaching functional offense would be close to miraculous. They have scored just 69 points in their last six games, two with Daniel Jones and four without him. That’s an average of 11.5 points per game. In the four games they have played without Jones, they have four touchdowns. Three of those have come in closing moments of blowout losses.

Saquon still searching

Saquon Barkley and the Giants will return to Soldier Field Sunday, 470 days after Barkley tore the CL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee.

This season, Barkley has looked nothing like the player he was before that devastating injury. He is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry (130 carries, 461 yards). His per game average is 41.9 rushing yards, after averaging 81.7 and 77.3 his first two seasons.

Among 42 running backs with more than 100 carries, Football Outsiders ranks Barkley 39th in success rate at 43 percent. Backup Devontae Booker is only 32nd at 47 percent. Barkley is 37th in Yards Above Replacement at -48. Booker is 25th at +52.

Barkley is averaging 2.72 yards after contact. He averaged 3.34 and 3.23 his first two seasons. He forced 82 missed tackles his first two season, 5.13 per game. This season, he has forced 17 in 11 games, 1.5 per game.

Barkley, of course, suffered yet another injury. This time it was an ankle that cost him four games and has likely continued to limit him.

Head coach Joe Judge said Monday the organization has not considered shutting Barkley down for the remainder of the season.

“That’s more something that our medical team has not approached me about,” Judge said. “At this moment, there wouldn’t be any medical reason, at least that they brought to me, about shutting him down.”

COVID-19 protocol changes

In accordance with CDC guidelines, the NFL has changed the standard isolation period after a positive COVID-19 test for asymptomatic individuals from 10 days to five days regardless of vaccination status.

That could change who is available for the Giants on Sunday.

Cornerbacks Keion Crossen and Adoree’ Jackson, safety Julian Love, wide receiver John Ross and right tackle Nate Solder are all currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. We should get word later Wednesday on who could come off the list this week.

Does winning matter?

Well, yes and no. Obviously, as the saying goes, you play to win the games and victory always is more palatable than defeat.

Winning would do a couple of things for the 4-11 Giants.

First, it would help them avoid the second 13-loss season in franchise history. The first came when they went 3-13 in 2017.

Second, the outcome of Sunday’s game is going to have some impact on the 2022 NFL Draft, though perhaps marginal. The Giants currently have picks No. 5 (their own) and No. 8 (Chicago’s, from last April’s trade down). Beating the Bears on Sunday could ensure that Chicago’s pick stays in the top 10. Of course, that also raises the possibility of the Giants’ pick being lower than no. 5.