Bears Film Study: Giants show its possible to win without wide receivers
Last week's game in New Jersey was an example of what can happen when two defenses are focused on forcing the opposing quarterback to make decisive plays.
The Giants obviously won that battle, since their QB Daniel Jones ran for two touchdowns while the Bears settled for four field goals in the 20-12 loss.
Frustrating from a Bears perspective was how the Giants were able to capitalize on bootleg plays by Jones to supplement runs from Saquon Barkley. New York managed just 71 passing yards, mostly on rollout dumps to the tight ends, but Jones' 68 yards rushing made a difference.
People complain about the lack of playmaking ability among the Bears' wide receivers. The Giants could have left their receivers in the locker room and still won this game. They delivered one catch each for Darius Slayton, Richie James and David Sills.
On the other hand, both the Bears coaching staff and QB Justin Fields don't seem to have a handle on what Fields does best. The offense as a whole has done well when loading up with a fullback, two tight ends and running the ball.
New York followed that page of the Bears' playbook to pile up 262 rushing yards, using two tight ends on the same side to create severely unbalanced lines. The snap counts tell an interesting story: Of the Giants' three tight ends, Chris Myarick played 63% of the snaps, Daniel Bellinger 60% and Tanner Hudson 57%.
The Bears, on the other hand, used TE Cole Kmet 98% of the time, but fullback Khari Blasingame and tight end Trevon Wesco participated in just 26% of plays. Why the Bears don't spend more time playing to their offensive strength is a mystery.
Fields of dreams
This game featured the full gamut of challenges facing Fields. He had a nice day running the ball, scrambling for four first downs. He finally connected on a deep ball to Darnell Mooney, but doesn't get enough time to throw to count on many of those.
Fields has been sacked 11 times in the last two games and the problem figures to get worse with Lucas Patrick stepping in at left guard for the injured Cody Whitehair. Medium throws seem to be the most feasible right now, since defenses are looking out for the bootleg.
The Bears drove inside the Giants' 30-yard line on their first five full possessions, so the offense moved the ball. But Fields also made some odd decisions. On first down at the 12-yard-line, the Bears ran a bootleg pass and New York defensive end Jihad Ward chose to rush the passer instead of follow Kmet. All Fields had to do was toss a short pass to his tight end for a decent gain. Instead, he kept the ball and was dropped by Ward for a 2-yard loss. Hello Field Goal No. 2.
Third-and-3 at the 5-yard line, the Giants have nine in the box, the Bears had seven blockers and they handed it to Khalil Herbert up the middle for no gain. The play had no chance.
Worst play II
This one was a little strange. On third-and-6 at the 14 in the third quarter, Fields dumped a short pass to Kmet for a 3-yard loss. After rewinding a few times, it looked like this was the plan all along. Three receivers ran into the end zone, Kmet blocked, then released, and the Bears probably expected him to have room to run.
Problem was, the Giants had a spy standing by for a Fields scramble and he quickly dropped Kmet for a loss. That led to Field Goal No. 4. OC Luke Getsy has used some clever plays to reach the end zone, but nothing clicked in this game.
Room to run
Yes, the Bears rank last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, but 20 points allowed against the Giants was a winnable performance. Considering the number of rookies and midlevel free agents filling spots, the defense continues to overachieve.
Streak is over
This column has raved about the performance of Blasingame at fullback, but he finally missed a block on the first series Sunday. The fourth-year pro from Vanderbilt crossed the formation, dove at the legs of linebacker Azeez Ojulari and didn't connect. Ojulari made the tackle on Herbert, but it was still a 7-yard gain.