Chicago Bears present another early test for NY Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 14: Head coach Joe Judge of the New York Giants reacts during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium on September 14, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 14: Head coach Joe Judge of the New York Giants reacts during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium on September 14, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Following last week’s loss to start the 2020 season, the NY Giants will face another early challenge as they hit the road to take on the Chicago Bears.

With Monday night’s loss firmly in the rear-view mirror, the focus of the NY Giants now shifts to the 1-0 Chicago Bears.

Coming into this season, there was no question the young roster of the G-Men was going to face growing pains following an almost entirely virtual off-season and new coaching staff. Last week’s game, while not all bad, highlighted some of the areas that need to improve moving forward.

Opening the season taking on one of the best teams in the NFL – sporting arguably the most talented defense in the league – was a tall task, to say the least for Joe Judge and company. It proved to be a great benchmark as to where this team is from a talent and competitive standpoint against the league’s best.

Riding the moral victories and learning from the mistakes of last week, the NY Giants head into week two with another great opportunity in front of them.

The Chicago Bears are coming off a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Lions last week. A game in which they trailed 23-6 heading into the 4th quarter where they proceeded to score 21 unanswered points in the final frame.

This matchup presents a few interesting challenges and opportunities for the NY Giants, ones they will need to overcome if they want to avoid a third straight season starting 0-2.

One of the biggest storylines of this matchup is it will show where this team is at mentally and maturity-wise. Bouncing back from a loss is always tough, especially when losses are all this franchise has produced the last three seasons, but it doesn’t help that it’s also on the road and with a short week of preparation.

The G-Men sport one of the youngest rosters in the NFL with a handful of new faces from a season ago, how well have they bought into Joe Judge’s culture shift to a more mentally tough, gritty team?

I understand that it is only week two and what we see Sunday is not the final answer to this question, but it is a gauge as to the direction we’re going in. Most of the signs pointed in the right direction last week, does this week double-down on that trend despite these obstacles?

This week will be an important matchup for the simple fact that the Chicago Bears are an average football team. They aren’t the Steelers, Ravens, Chiefs, etc. They were an 8-8 football team a year ago and were dominated by the Lions for 45 minutes last week.

If the NY Giants are moving in the right direction, their play should reflect that in facing a team that is not top-to-bottom better than them. This was one of the biggest positives taken away from last week, that despite the Steelers being a much better team, Big Blue was only trailing 16-10 with 14 minutes left to go in the 4th quarter and seemed to had a real chance to pull away in the second quarter.

There is no reason that with the talent on both sides of the ball for the NY Giants that they cannot compete for 4 quarters and leave Chicago with a win.

Going off that same point, the only way the Giants leave 1-1 is if there is an improvement in a few noticeable areas, starting with the run game.

Chicago allowed 138 rushing yards last week and in 2019, allowed the 7th most rushing touchdowns in the NFL. What this means is they aren’t Pittsburgh and New York should be able to have relative success on the ground.

Another stiff test for the NY Giants’ new offensive line

Last week’s performance was the result of an offensive line with three new faces playing vs a live opponent for the first time this season, with that live opponent being one of the best in the NFL.

It’s yet to be determined if Cam Fleming will remain at right tackle, but even if he does, the unit as a whole should improve with a game under their belts and I expect Jason Garrett to try and ignite the ground game by adding some creativity in the way of motions, sweeps, and read options.

The run game can literally only improve from what we saw Monday, so don’t give up on Saquon Barkley as your RB1 in fantasy just yet.

Sunday’s matchup will also be the next test for rookie tackle Andrew Thomas, who shined during week one in his NFL debut. Thomas will line up across from Khalil Mack and/or Akiem Hicks all afternoon and be tested once again vs one of the league’s best pass rushers.

This is also a critical game for tight end Evan Engram. After what was potentially his worst game in a NY Giants uniform last week, a lot of people are growing increasingly concerned that he will never meet the expectations that come with being considered one of the best tight ends in football.

Lions’ tight end DJ Hockenson notched 5 receptions for 56 yards and 1 touchdown last week and there is no reason for Engram to not equal or better that stat line. Does Engram bounce back and become a key component of the offense like he’s supposed to? Or does he disappear again and extend his stay in the dog house?

Is the NY Giants’ secondary really as bad as it looked in Week 1?

On the other side of the ball, the secondary is presented with a great opportunity to improve their shortcomings from a week ago. For starters, Mitchell Trubisky isn’t the best quarterback this group will face, and while he did flip a switch in the fourth quarter last week, he is still an average signal-caller that is prone to turnovers.

The test will come covering Allen Robinson, who hauled in 5 receptions for 74 yards last week and had a season-high 131 yards vs the G-Men in last year’s matchup. Limiting him and Anthony Miller while keeping tabs on Jimmy Graham is going to be key for this defense. Eleven different players saw at least one target in the passing game last week for Chicago, so expect this style of play to give a lot of guys the opportunity to make plays.

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It may only be week two, but this Sunday’s game has the potential to reveal a lot about this team and certain players. There is no reason the NY Giants can’t compete and win, it will come down to seeing improvements in key areas and individuals stepping up.

Hopefully, the positives we took from Monday night prove to be valid and Joe Judge can pick up his first win as the head football coach of the New York Football Giants.