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Giants-Bears, Week 4: 5 storylines to follow this week

Can the Giants improve to 3-1?

Syndication: The Record Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants complete a stretch of three straight home games on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Here are some of this week’s storylines.

1930s football?

Sunday’s game features two of the most anemic passing attacks in the NFL. So, don’t expect a high-scoring offensive shootout.

The Bears are last in the NFL averaging an unbelievable 78.3 yards passing per game. Justin Fields’ season-high in passing yards is 105, and that is the only time this season he has reached 100 yards. Through three games, Fields has attempted just 45 passes and completed only 23. Two teams, the New York Jets (52.7) and Arizona Cardinals (48.3) are averaging more than 45 pass attempts per game.

The Giants are trying to throw the ball (30.7 attempts per game, 25th overall). It’s just that quarterback Daniel Jones is ending up running with it way too often. Jones is averaging 8.3 rushing attempts per game, many of those just running for his life to escape pass rushers. Jones averages 4.8 rushes per game for his career.

The Giants (162.3) are 30th in the league in passing yards per game, and Jones has yet to reach the 200-yard mark this season.

If either team can get just a couple of explosive passing plays on Sunday that could go a long way toward determining the outcome. Check out the odds for this one courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Let’s talk trade

We can’t let a Bears-Giants game go by without talking about the 2021 draft day trade that is shaping the futures of both franchises.

The Giants, of course, traded the No. 11 pick to Chicago, leaving edge defender Micah Parsons (Dallas Cowboys) and offensive tackle Rashawn Slater (Los Angeles Chargers) on the board.

The Bears used that pick on Fields, who they are hoping is their answer at quarterback.

The Giants got pick No. 20 (Kadarius Toney), a 2021 fifth-round pick (used to trade up and select Aaron Robinson in Round 3), the 2022 No. 7 overall pick (Evan Neal) and a 2022 fourth-round pick (Daniel Bellinger).

To this point, it certainly appears that the Giants took the wrong player when they selected Toney. I will always believe, though, that the Giants did the right thing philosophically. If Neal justifies being the seventh overall pick, and the other players acquired are contributors, the deal is absolutely a plus for the Giants.

Giants’ wide receivers

We know the Giants’ wide receiver situation is a mess. So, who will be catching passes this week?

We know Sterling Shepard won’t, after his unfortunate season-ending injury. On Tuesday, coach Brian Daboll did not seem optimistic that Toney (hamstring) or 2022 second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) would be.

Kenny Golladay? Even after his dud of a performance on Monday night, the Giants might be forced to run him out there and try to get something for their money. Or, they might just say the heck with it and leave him inactive.

Darius Slayton? He has played 18 snaps without a target so far. Many Giants’ fans clamor for him to play more, and that might happen against the Bears. Still, this Giants’ coaching staff has made it pretty obvious that turning to the 2019 fifth-round pick is a last resort.

Practice squad guys Marcus Johnson or Kalil Pimpleton?

It speaks volumes about the state of the Giants’ passing offense that the available receivers Jones trusts most are Richie James (14 receptions) and David Sills (five receptions). James was a 2018 seventh-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers and Sills was undrafted.

The quarter pole ... kind of

With a 17-game season there is no actual quarter-pole in the NFL season any longer. Still, four games is roughly a quarter of an NFL season.

Will the Giants be 3-1 or 2-2? When the season began I think any Giants fan would have said they would be thrilled with a 2-2 record after four games. Now, after a 2-0 start a loss on Sunday might make 2-2 disappointing, especially with this being a third straight home game.

Still, 2-2 would make the Giants competitive. That’s a better spot than they have been in for a while.

Evan Neal’s response

Neal had the roughest game of his fledgling NFL life on Monday — probably the roughest game he has ever played at any level. Demarcus Lawrence embarrassed him for three sacks. Neal allowed five total pressures for a pass-blocking efficiency rate of a woeful 91.8.

“I just got to play better. There’s no other way to call it. I can get technical with you guys all day long, but I just gotta play better,” Neal said after Monday’s game. “There’s no other way to slice it or sugarcoat it. I gotta play a better brand of football.”

Neal is currently 60th out of 61 offensive tackles graded by Pro Football Focus. He is 59th in run blocking and 56th in pass protection. Before you call him a bust, note that Ikem Ekwonu, drafted No. 5 overall by the Carolina Panthers, is graded one spot better than Neal thus far at No. 59.

It is not easy to be a rookie tackle in the NFL going 1-on-1 with the best pass rushers in the world.

Also, keep in mind that the No. 1 ranked tackle in the NFL after three games is the guy playing on the opposite side of Neal. Andrew Thomas currently has a 90.1 overall blocking grade from PFF, nearly six points better than Laremy Tunsil, No. 2 at 84.8.

Neal clearly has some technical issues to address. That was clear long before Monday night. Rookie growing pains are to be expected. What matters is where Neal goes from here.

I believe that in the long run Neal will be just fine, and will absolutely justify the Giants using the seventh overall pick in the draft on him.