Bears vs. Giants: What to Watch 4
Giants talented rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas could have his hands full with Khalil Mack. Will the Bears run the ball as well as they did last week? All eyes are on Mitch Trubisky, per usual.
Last season at Soldier Field, outside linebacker Khalil Mack beat Giants tackle Nate Solder for a strip-sack of quarterback Daniel Jones inside the Bears’ 10-yard line that led to the key touchdown in a 19-14 victory. Mack had four tackles and drew a hold against the Lions last week, but he didn’t make a huge impact in the season opener.
The Giants have replaced Solder with rookie Andrew Thomas, the fourth pick of the 2020 draft out of Georgia. The 6-5, 315-pound Thomas allowed four pressures but acquitted himself reasonably well for his first NFL game last week against the Steelers. But Mack will be an even bigger challenge if he tries to test the rookie, as expected.
Jones led the NFL with 18 fumbles last season — the fifth-most in NFL history — and lost 11.
The Bears aggressively and effectively ran the ball from the start last week against the Lions (28 carries, 149 yards, 5.3-yard average), with 14 carries of five yards or more and four players with at least one carry of 10 yards or more (David Montgomery, 10; Tarik Cohen, 16; Cordarrelle Patterson, 13; and Mitch Trubisky, 20).
The Giants allowed 141 yards on 30 carries (4.1-yard average) in their season opener against the Steelers.
‘‘It’s one game,’’ coach Matt Nagy said. ‘‘But I do like the fact that it’s been a point of emphasis for us in that we were able to do well with that. But there’s no satisfaction, and I love that about our guys. They haven’t said much about it; they haven’t talked much about it. That’s just what they expect.’’
PLAYER TO WATCH
Trubisky had a 59.6 passer rating in the Bears’ first seven drives against the Lions and a 139.4 rating, including three touchdown passes, in their last four.
Consistency — from quarter to quarter, as well as game to game — has been elusive for Trubisky. Against a Giants defense that ranked 28th against the pass last season and has a first-year coaching staff, Trubisky has an opportunity to take advantage and be effective in more than one quarter.
Another key area of improvement is third down. Trubisky was 0-for-5 on third down in the first half against the Lions and finished 4-for-9 for 23 yards and a two-yard touchdown to tight end Jimmy Graham. He also had a sneak for no gain and a 28-yard loss on a sack/fumble.
The transition to regular-season game speed in Week 1 arguably was as great as ever because of the limitations of COVID-19 (virtual offseason programs, abbreviated training camps and no preseason games). Week 2 could offer a better indication of what is real. The Bears’ defense allowed 426 yards to the Lions last week. The offense struggled for three quarters. How much of that was a matter of shaking off the rust?