Fri, 30 Oct 2020

Cover 3: What we learned from Giants vs. Bears

Giants
22 Sep 2020, 19:12 GMT+10

by John Schmeelk, Dan Salomone & Lance Medow

The Giants.com crew discusses their biggest takeaways from Sunday's 17-13 loss to the Bears:

John Schmeelk: Sunday was not the type of day Giants fans were hoping for. The team has now started 0-2 for the seventh time in eight seasons. The added Wild Card team in 2020 eases the prognosis of starting 0-2, but it is still the start the Giants were hoping to avoid.

Where do the Giants stand from a big picture perspective? Saquon Barkley is lost for the season and Sterling Shepard had to leave Sunday's game with a toe injury. The Giants will have to figure out how to divvy up the running back touches to fill the void. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is also going to have to determine how defenses might adjust their strategies with Barkley's absence.

Daniel Jones has shown he can move the ball against two strong defenses. He has also shown he has not yet been able to eliminate his turnover issues. His four turnovers were factors in the Giants' two losses. With that said, Jones seems to have taken quickly to Jason Garrett's offense and knows where to find open receivers against specific coverages.

The offensive line is a work in progress and has been challenged by strong fronts the first two weeks. Jones has been sacked seven times in two games. It equates to 56 sacks over 16 games, which is far too many.

Defensively, Patrick Graham has held true to his preseason promise that his defense would be multiple. He is using Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers and Julian Love all on the field. Blake Martinez and James Bradberry appear to be "as advertised" and have filled their roles well. The Giants have six sacks, which would prorate to 48 over a 16 game season, a stark improvement over last year's numbers. The sacks are split between linebackers and linemen with no one having more than one. Graham has used creative fronts and a lot of movement to try to generate pressure.

The goal should be to see continuing improvement in these areas throughout the season, as the young roster gets more experience in the offensive and defensive schemes.

Dan Salomone: In the third-to-last practice before the Giants embarked on the regular season, Joe Judge halted the operation. He gathered the team around him on the field, voiced his displeasure with what he had seen, and directed them to start the workout over - including the stretching. And they responded with a spirited and productive outing.

Well, Sunday was a lot like that day.

The Giants turned the ball over on two of their first three possessions as the Chicago Bears secured a 17-0 halftime lead. In the second half, Big Blue forced turnovers on two of the Bears' first three possessions en route to a shutout the rest of the way. But the 13 points were not enough for the Giants to pull off the comeback.

While the second half was promising, it didn't change the fact that the team fell to 0-2. As Saquon Barkley said on Sept. 10 after Judge hit the reset button on practice, "There won't be any restarts [when the season begins]. We have to find a way to have that energy and find a way to have that purpose from the beginning."

The Giants will now have to do that without Barkley, who tore his ACL in Sunday's game in Chicago.

"You know what, we asked those guys today, we said we're going to find out a lot about ourselves," Judge said. "We came out at halftime and said we're going to find out a lot out about the team we are. You're down 17-nothing, what kind of team we're going to have. It's never about what happens to you. It's about how you respond to it. I liked the way our guys responded. We've got the right guys. We've got the right kind of guys. We've got to clean some things up. We've got to improve by not putting ourselves behind in games by making mistakes that we can control. ... In terms of the guys in the locker room, look, it's a tough resilient group. It really is. It's a young team that's learning a lot, but they're learning a lot in these first two weeks about what we have to do as a team to capitalize on our opportunities. We have to make sure we stop spotting opponents opportunities to take advantage of our mistakes."

Lance Medow: One of the biggest difference-makers in Sunday's game between the Giants and Bears was third-down efficiency. After going just two of 11 (18%) on third down in Week 1 against the Lions, which was tied for the worst mark in the NFL, Chicago pulled quite a turnaround and converted nine of its 16 third down attempts against New York. Mitchell Trubisky and company moved the chains on all four of their attempts during the opening drive of the game that resulted in a 28-yard touchdown pass to David Montgomery and really never looked back. A big reason why the Bears were so successful on third down was thanks to manageable distances. Eleven of their 16 attempts were for six yards or less.

The Giants' inability to get off the field on third down enabled the Bears to put together three drives of at least 11 plays. Even though they didn't score touchdowns on each of those possessions, Chicago was able to milk the clock, especially during its last possession of the game when the Bears pounded the ball on the ground to orchestrate a 12-play, 44-yard drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock and forced the Giants to use all three of their timeouts. Although Chicago was unable to capitalize by putting points on the board, it still left the Giants' offense with limited time to march down the field and get in the end zone. When you dig yourself in a 17-0 hole, every possession is that much more important in order to ignite a rally, which is why the offense needed as many at bats as possible in the second half.

On the flip side, the Giants' offense delivered on just three of their 13 third downs and similar to the Bears, distance wasn't an issue as eight of those downs were for six yards or less. Despite that, New York still had trouble consistently moving the chains, especially in the first half when the Giants were just one for five on third down even though on three of those downs they needed just five yards or less to convert. Daniel Jones and company had only five possessions in the first half and two of them ended with a turnover, one a three and out, one punt after picking up a pair of first downs and a missed field goal. That combined with the defensive struggles in the first half were two major reasons why the Giants were playing from behind the entire game and, ultimately, ran out of time at the very end.

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