The 2019 Bears are not who we thought they were and saw their post-season aspirations die at the hands of the Rams last Sunday night. However bad this season has been, they still have an opportunity to evaluate talent on the roster with the last half dozen games on the schedule. First up are the New York Football Giants, a team that has had a worse 2019 than the Bears, sitting at 2-8 on the year. The Giants transitioned over to Daniel Jones from Eli Manning early in the year, a good thing in my opinion, and are battling for third place in the NFC East with Washington.
I reached out to my counterpart at Big Blue View to get some answers to some of my questions about this Giants squad and Ed Valentine was kind enough to give Bears fans hope that the Bears can notch their fifth victory of the year.
Windy City Gridiron: Last year we talked about whether or not the Giants made a mistake by taking Saquon Barkley in what seemed to be a QB-rich draft when the need to replace Eli Manning seemed clear. The Giants did end up taking a quarterback this year in Daniel Jones from Duke. The Giants made the switch early and “Danny Dimes” has a full 8 starts under his belt already. How’s he looked, what does he do well, and what does he need to improve on to lift the Giants back into a playoff team?
Big Blue View: Jones has looked like you might think a rookie quarterback would look. Lots of really good “wow” moments and plenty of “oh my God, that’s awful” moments.
In truth, Jones looks like he has a chance to be a really good NFL quarterback. He throws a nice ball, he has mobility, he’s smart, he’s tough. His biggest issue has been ball security, with 13 fumbles. It’s not that he’s fumble prone, it’s that some decision-making and hesitation in the pocket has left him vulnerable to taking hits and sacks he shouldn’t have had to take, resulting in fumbles that shouldn’t have happened. If he can develop better pocket awareness and the Giants continue to build around him he can be an excellent player.
WCG: Evan Engram has been a bright spot when he’s on the field but unfortunately has had injury issues throughout his career. He’s currently dealing with a foot sprain and has him listed as questionable for this matchup. Any status update on Engram and if he can’t go, what’s the pecking order for Danny Dimes in this passing game?
BBV: I don’t know at this point if Engram will play Sunday. Personally, I doubt it. He just got out of a walking boot on Monday with a mid-foot sprain. Sterling Shepard (concussion) hasn’t played in several weeks. You’ll see the ball thrown mostly to Golden Tate, Darius Slayton and Saquon Barkley if those guys don’t play.
WCG: The Giants defense so far this year has been, well, pretty bad. Currently ranked 27th in DVOA, the Giants are at least league average at stopping the run. With the Bears unable to do anything of note in the passing game and the Giants unable to stop any passing attacks, we’ve got a rare opportunity to witness a totally resist-able force against an easily moved object. Which side prevails?
BBV: Wait, is that a trick question? Is there really an appropriate answer? I refuse to express any confidence in the Giants’ pass defense on the grounds that Giants fans might have me committed.
WCG: The only unit on the field with consistent success for either side so far this season has been the Bears defense. They’ve been good (not great) against the pass but have struggled at times against the run. What’s your guess for the number of carries Saquon Barkley stacks up in this one and is running the ball the best hope for a Giants win in this one? In other words, what’s the game script for a Giants W?
BBV: I really don’t know how heavily the Giants will lean on Barkley the rest of the way. They are 2-8 and he hasn’t been anywhere near fully healthy since his Week 3 high ankle sprain. I just don’t know how smart it is to ride him hard at this point. That’s really just adding mileage to his body that isn’t going to get the Giants anything more than a meaningless victory or two.
As for recipe for a Giant victory, that has to start with not turning the ball over. The are -12 in takeaway/giveaway ratio, 31st in the league. That has to stop. They have to prevent big plays in the passing game. They have to try not to play themselves out of the game in the first quarter, which they have done a bunch of times this year. If they can do those things, maybe they have a chance.
WCG: Given that both teams currently sit in 3rd place in their respective divisions, these two teams may square off again in 2020. What changes need to be made between now and that hypothetical 2020 game? Free Agency, the draft, coaching changes, new throwback uniforms, etc.?
BBV: Well, the Giants need to continue adding defensive talent. They just don’t have any real game-changers. They could use a wide receiver. Maybe a young offensive tackle. I’d expect some alterations among assistant coaches, at the least.
Thank you to Ed and Big Blue View for the info!