Chicago Bears 19 – New York Giants 14
A comfortable, if not somewhat chilly and breezy day, in Chicago was on tap after the Giants bye week to face off against the underwhelming Bears. A defense that ranked 8th in the NFL paired with an offense that ranked 30th has given CHI a lack of identity to this point of the year. They came in at 4-6, losers of 4 out of their last 5. NYG was coming off of 13 days of rest with an offensive line that was fully healthy after injuries at three of five starting spots and Sterling Shepard out of the concussion protocol. This was a solid match-up on paper.
Two weeks after Saquon Barkley gained 14 yards on 13 carries against the Jets, he was tackled for a 5-yard loss on the first carry of the game. It was a quick and easy sign that despite the extra time off, nothing had changed. On the second CHI drive, they marched down the field but a drop by tight end Ben Braunecker that would have surely ended in a touchdown gave the NYG defense another life. Mitch Trubisky, who averages less yards per game than any QB in the league, threw an interception to a leaping Alec Ogletree in the end zone.
A few drives later, NYG started with the ball in Chicago’s territory. The Giants took advantage of the field position as Daniel Jones hit tight end Kaden Smith in the flat off of play-action for a 3-yard touchdown. They took the initial lead and after forcing a three-and-out on the next drive, Jabrill Peppers returned a punt 40 yards, ending at the CHI 29-yard line. After three plays that accrued a total of 5 yards, Aldrick Rosas missed the 42-yard field goal attempt as a result of Zak DeOssie rolling (literally) the snap back to Riley Dixon. The game remained 7-0. After a 13-yard punt following another three-and-out by the CHI offense, NYG began this time at the CHI 48 yard line. Rosas would soon be presented with a 43-yard attempt but instead of redeeming himself, he pulled it wide left, his fourth miss of the season. The score remained 7-0.
CHI’s offense clicked on their final drive of the half as they finally found and decided to absolutely, relentlessly attack the weak point of the NYG secondary. Corey Ballentine got picked on over and over as CHI drove inside the 10-yard line. The Giants were able to keep them out of the end zone but CHI did put up 3 points via a 26-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro. They cut the score to 7-3 and would receive the ball to start the second half.
Rosas cemented this as the worst game of his young career as he booted the opening kickoff of the second half out of bounds, giving CHI the ball at the 40-yard line. The CHI game plan seemed to fully focus on Ballentine, as they continued to throw the ball to whomever he was trying to cover. This approach ended with a 32-yard touchdown to Robinson over Ballentine, giving CHI their first lead of the game at 10-7.
The next four offensive drives for NYG resulted in zero first downs, a sack-fumble that resulted in a turnover, and 15 total yards. The anemic performance and even worse play-calling made the Giants completely stall while the CHI offense, third-worst in the league, was able to put another 10 points on the board to lengthen their lead to 19-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
Despite all of the quality field position they had in this one, up until this point in the game, NYG couldn’t muster more than a lone score. Thus it only makes sense that on a drive that started on their on 3-yard line ended with their second touchdown. On a 4th-and-18 from the CHI 23, Jones evaded pressure and chucked it into the end zone. Somehow Golden Tate got behind the secondary and came down with the ball. NYG was all of the sudden within 5 and they quickly forced a three-and-out on the ensuing CHI drive.
Another late-game, puzzling decision arose here. On 4th-and-2 from their own 33, CHI kept their offense on the field. Nobody actually believed they would go for it, and at the last second, they took their entire unit off the field and replaced them with their punting team. The NYG defense remained on the field, no returner came on, and it resulted in a punt that rolled and rolled, resulting in a 61-yard punt that was downed at the NYG 6-yard line. It was a brilliant move by CHI Head Coach Matt Nagy, as Pat Shurmur hopelessly looked on as if he knew he just got toyed with by a superior coach.
The Giants had one last shot to make this game a heroic 4th quarter comeback but the offensive line continued to falter and Jones couldn’t find open targets. The drive lasted 8 plays and gathered a total of 29 yards. They turned it over on downs. Would have been nice to have those 6 points lost by Rosas.
Giants lose 19-14.
-Daniel Jones: 21/36 – 150 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT – 2 att / 27 yards. Jones fumbled for the 14th time and lost that fumble for the 10th time. While this one wasn’t a result of poor ball protection, this has become a major issue. Otherwise, Jones played a solid game but had a few hiccups that luckily didn’t end in turnovers. He threw two late balls right into the hands of CHI defenders but they couldn’t close the deal. His second touchdown was a bit of a “chuck it” type play but he deserves credit for hanging in the pocket and getting rid of it nicely with trash all around him. Jones didn’t givie us any “wow” moments or throws but he played solidly as he has all year.
-Saquon Barkley: 17 att / 59 yards – 2 rec / 1 yard. While this wasn’t as ugly a performance as we have seen the past couple of weeks, Barkley is still lagging big time. He continues to dance around too much instead of putting his 230-pound frame close to the ground to simply pave his own path. To be honest, it is really frustrating to watch. He also dropped a pass on 3rd-down that would have ended in, at least, a first down and a 15+ yard gain. There was a play in the 3rd quarter where he caught a pass in the flat and danced his way out of bounds rather than drive over a defensive back who was on heels. Shurmur, rightfully so, was not happy with Barkley on that one.
-Golden Tate: 3 rec / 33 yards / 1 TD. Tate also had a drop and one other that he should have caught albeit it was a difficult throw to deal with from Jones. Tate’s touchdown salvaged his poor day.
-Darius Slayton: 4 rec / 67 yards. The lone big play threat in this WR corps continues to impress as a route runner and after the catch. He did have another drop though.
-Sterling Shepard: 3 rec / 15 yards. First game back for Shepard since October 6 because of a second concussion. He didn’t make the great impact many were hoping for but he did gain 22 yards on a reverse run and converted a 3rd down. This offense needs more out of him moving forward, not just dinky-dunk passes.
-With Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison both out, the job was left up to Scott Simonson and Kaden Smith. Smith, still somewhat newly-signed from SF, scored the first Giants touchdown on a play-action bootleg. He ended up catching another 4 short passes and Simonson got one of his own. Neither are going to scare anyone as route runners and pass catchers but they blocked the edge well, as they were asked to do a lot there.
–The first half wasn’t bad for tackles Nate Solder and Mike Remmers. After all, they were up against Khalil Mack and company and on Jones’ 14 first-half drop backs, Solder allowed 1 pressure and Remmers none. However, once we got into the third quarter, Solder allowed 5 pressures and a sack that led to a fumble. He was, once again, abused and it impacted the entire passing attack. Remmers wasn’t much better, as he allowed 2 pressures but also graded out poorly as a run blocker. He kept losing ground time after time, showing absolutely no anchor.
-Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez were relatively quiet in a good way. They each allowed just one pressure in the fourth quarter against a CHI defensive tackle group that may be one of the most underrated in the league. They didn’t get movement in the running game and they, along with Jon Halapio, were the main culprits for a lack of interior run success. None of the offensive linemen could walk out of Chicago proud of their performance.
-Despite a separate offsides penalty called on all three edge rushers, they played well as a group. Markus Golden recorded his 7.5 sack of the year while adding 2 TFL, one of which was in a clutch situation late in the game. Lorenzo Carter had 4 tackles, 1 TFL, a pass break up, and 1 pressure, while Oshane Ximines added a pressure and a tackle himself.
-B.J. Hill didn’t show up in the stat sheet but he was pretty active despite playing only 26% of the snaps. He had a pressure and made things happen away from the ball in terms of making the ball carrier re-direct. He is a quality guy to have coming off of the bench.
-Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson were stout and rangy against the run. Both had a pressure and Tomlinson finished with 3 tackles. His best football has been played since Williams was brought in. Speaking of Williams, one can fairly ask whether or not he is worth the draft pick they gave and/or the money he will demand in the offseason. He continues on with his “solid, but…” label. He had 1 tackle and 1 pressure in this one.
-Dexter Lawrence was borderline dominant inside against a quality CHI interior offensive line. When this kid gets off of the ball correctly and timely with the right pad level, it is comical to watch two OL not even get him to move his feet. You won’t see him make a statistical impact weekly, as he finished with just 2 tackles and 1 pressure in this one, but he was the key reason why CHI averaged just 2.5 yards per carry. Great game for him.
-Alec Ogletree came up with the biggest defensive play of the day. His interception in the end zone prevented CHI from going up 7-0 early and it was an impressive, athletic feat. He had just 2 tackles on the day but he filled lanes hard and opened things up for David Mayo. Mayo finished with 7 tackles including one for a loss and he had a nice pass breakup stemming from his physical style and heavy contact. He did get beat up underneath by backs and tight ends in coverage though.
-Solid game from Deone Bucannon, who seems to be more comfortable in this environment. He had 5 tackles despite the fact he only played a third of the snaps.
-Corey Ballentine saw a season-high 64 snaps, but that’s about the only thing his fans are going to want to talk about. Actually, he led the team with 9 tackles, another feather in the cap. But one thing I was taught a long time ago was if a cornerback has a lot of tackles, it is usually an indictment on his poor coverage. It was as clear as day as to who CHI wanted to attack in the passing game. There was a stretch from the middle of the 2nd quarter to the middle of the 3rd quarter where the CHI offense was simple: line up, find who Ballentine is covering, and pass to him. Ballentine’s footwork was atrocious. He had no balance, and he had no feel for routes and throws. In addition to all of the receptions and yardage he gave up, he was fortunate another 60-yard catch was called back because of a penalty along the offensive line. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back because you know Green Bay saw the tape.
-Janoris Jenkins played a really solid game, finishing with a couple of physical tackles and 2 pass break ups. He had a defensive holding on a 3rd-and-10 stop that led to a CHI touchdown, however. Bad timing for a mistake that didn’t need to be made.
-Deandre Baker wasn’t challenged much in coverage, but he did look solid on the few times he had to run deep with the CHI speed guy Gabriel. He finished with a TFL.
-A pretty quiet game for the safeties. Antoine Bethea had 3 tackles and showed quality coverage on a couple of occasions. Jabrill Peppers played a lot of linebacker in this one. He had 5 tackles and 1 TFL. He also returned a punt 40 yards and it got me thinking that it would have been nice to see him back there all year. He is so dangerous with the ball and we aren’t just talking about speed. He is powerful, strong, and aggressive. He is dealing with a hip/back injury that may end up shutting him down for the rest of the year.
-Julian Love got his first real action of the year, 55% of the snaps. He had 1 tackle and 1 interception. Love nearly came down with a second interception and I saw things in him that reminded me why I had a 1st-round grade on him last April. He reacts so well, both physically and mentally, to both where receivers are going and when the ball is thrown. We haven’t seen that from a safety yet this season. Arguably his most impressive play won’t show up on the stat sheet. On the 60-yard pass to Allen Robinson, Love was engaged with a receiver who did a nice job of blocking him. Robinson had a head full of steam and no defender in sight was there to help Love with angles or anything. Love disengaged himself from the blocker, wrapped up a full-speed Robinson, and brought him to the ground. Little things like that go a long way in my book and I hope Love earned his way into more playing time the rest of the year.
-K Aldrick Rosas: 0/2 (missed 42, 43). One can say the first miss wasn’t Rosas’ fault because the snap was so bad, but his second miss AND a kickoff out of bounds to start of the second half now leaves a questionable taste in our mouths. Is he the guy? Or did he get lucky in 2018? Kickers are the relief pitchers of football, just unbelievably volatile and hard to find.
-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 41.7 avg / 33.0 net.
–EDGE Markus Golden, DT Dexter Lawrence, S Julian Love
-OT Nate Solder, K Aldrick Rosas, CB Corey Ballentine
3 THOUGHTS ON CHI
- I somewhat noticed this while watching the game live but upon watching it again from the All-22 angle, I respect how disciplined this defense is. Plain and simple, they do not overlook the subtle assignments. They maintain gap control. Their blitzers are well timed and accurate. They take proper angles. Their anticipation is outstanding, most notably at the second level. Yes they have a lot of talen,t but even more than that, their discipline makes a lot of positives happen.
- Mitch Trubisky has gone backwards. I can recall watching him early last year and thinking he is making that important jump. Even after his injury where he missed 2 games, he came back and got destroyed by the LAR defense but bounced back well. 2019 has not been friendly to him and it just looks like he isn’t seeing things. His timing is off and he isn’t sure of himself. I bring this up because I think it takes 3 years of starting in the NFL before you can make your decision on a QB. NYG QB Daniel Jones has some similarities to Trubisky and even though I think he is heading toward a higher level, it is another example we can’t say yes or no to Jones until 2021.
- I know many may think NYG doesn’t need any more bodies at the hybrid DT/DE spot in this defense but there is a kid on CHI I have been watching all year. Roy Robertson-Harris is going to be a RFA this offseason. Since he was an UDFA in 2015, he could come cheaply. If NYG doesn’t want to spend money on Leonard Williams, I think this kid offers a very similar skill set and I’ll even say a similar level of play for a much cheaper price. Keep that name in mind.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
- Not sure if anyone else saw the interesting exchange between Barkley and Shurmur. In the 3rd quarter, Barkley caught a ball in the flat, did a little dance, then trotted out of bounds as two CHI defenders approached him. It was 2nd-and-8, NYG was down 10-7. Shurmur went at him and clearly told him to go north, put the shoulder down and get the few extra yards. Barkley may have been able to get 2-3 more yards and while it wasn’t a major deal, I think it is clear some are getting frustrated with his style. He isn’t playing like he did as a rookie. He is playing soft, and yes, I will keep talking about it until he stops.
- I think NYG might as well keep trotting out their young guys in the secondary for the balance of the season. I want to see Beal, Ballentine, Baker, and Love all getting more than 50% of the snaps weekly. I don’t need to see Michael Thomas anymore, I don’t need to see Grant Haley anymore, and I don’t need to see Peppers play through pain. Let’s see how these kids respond to adversity even if they get roasted.
- There are 5 games left to play. WAS and MIA are included in there and it’s hard not to think about where the Giants end up in the draft if they lose out and/or win one or both of those match-ups with Chase Young potentially sitting there. He is likely going to grade out higher than Myles Garrett and if there is one guy who can change the entire outlook of this team in a game where one guy almost never makes that much of a difference, it is Young. Tanking isn’t a thing but I do believe in sitting veterans and getting the young guys valuable snaps to see if they can show us something. Something I think NYG needs to consider.