Fourth & Forever: Bear Hugs vs. Giant Smiles
The New York Giants are winless after five weeks and are hoping to get back on track tonight with a win at the Chicago Bears. As crazy as it sounds, the Giants could still make the playoffs, as the NFC East is once again...terrible. As of right now, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys are tied for first, with a record of 2-3. At 0-5 the Giants are only two games out of first, and could win the division. They would have to win the division to make the playoffs. At five losses in five weeks, it would be a longshot for the Giants to make the playoffs. Teams like the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and the Chicago Bears, all are looking to be playoff bound. The Chicago Bears are looking to get back into the playoffs after missing it the last two seasons. After starting out 3-0, duhhh Bears, have dropped their last two. The Giants and Bears need a win to put an end to their early season skids.
The New York Giants need to restore order as being schoolyard bullies. They need to find a mental and physical balance on the field. When I look at the Giants, I think about that fierce pass rush with players such as defensive ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre Paul. Between both of them, they have a total of 1.5 sacks in five games. That is unheard of between these two quarterback hunters. They were known as really getting after the quarterback in past years; but now they look like they couldn't get to the Kool-Aid pitcher, if he was standing in the pocket. Ooohh Yeeaahh! This defense is a joke. They give up 36.4 ppg. The Giants defense, really! The Bears defense on the other hand, first started the season like last year...pigskin hungry. Committing turnovers and scoring touchdowns. They must've ate before playing in the last two games; giving up 60 points and only having two sacks. Hey, has anyone seen defensive end Julius Peppers? Through five games, he has one sack and five tackles. Sounds like a 101 roster cut could be happening at the end of this season, especially since he is due around $38 million in the last two years of his contract. Cornerback Charles Tillman is falling apart with injuries and with age. He can't run with the best of them at age 32, sooner or later he's got to switch to the safety position. Ask Charles Woodson! Whoever comes out with the defensive stops and the turnover battles, wins this game. It doesn't matter who is running the offense.
The Giants offense averages two touchdowns a game. For a super bowl winning quarterback like Eli Manning, moving the ball down the field should be cool breeze, He's got caliber receivers in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks on the other end of his completions. So what's the problem? The problem is the Giants do not have a running game. When running back Andre Brown went down early with a broken leg, David Wilson took over and ran into quicksand. Wilson has rushed 44 times for a grand total of 146 yards, with two catches for eight yards. So with no running game, Manning is forced to throw and when defenses know that, they tend to read the play and intercept the ball. They read Manning so much they picked him off 12 times. He should be a professor on how to throw interceptions at Manning University. I even heard Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was enrolled. A lot of defenders call Manning their favorite author. The Bears offense has been much improved under new head coach Marc Trestman. Having a balanced offense and adding weapons around quarterback Jay Cutler. In the beginning it was all about throwing to Brandon Marshall. It didn't matter if he was surrounded by a force field, Cutler still threw it. Now he spreads the ball to second year, second round draft pick Alshon Jeffrey and free agent addition Martellus Bennett. They have five touchdowns between each other. Marshall has three. Running back Matt Forte has been finding running lanes in Tresman's offense, averaging almost five yards a carry. The problem is when the Bears get behind, the running game gets lost and Cutler forces things. Throwing interceptions or fumbling the ball from sacks. The tempo has to be set early for both teams in tonight's matchup..
Players look at playing football as a passion, more than just a job. When that passion goes out the door, it becomes just a means to buying nice things. Hey that rhymes! You can tell as a fan, if players are playing to be paid or playing to have fun. Will the real Jadeveon Clowney please stand up! The Giants have been playing just to be playing. There's no love for the game at all! Sometimes I think the Giants are full of excuses. Whether its injuries, contracts disputes, or lack of leadership. This team needs a voice in the locker room to pull the team together. I can't think of one person on the team, that could unite the locker room. The Bears have a few people, including linebacker Lance Briggs, Brandon Marshall and Julius Peppers. They talk, people listen. The Bears are playing with passion, but they just can't beat top teams. They don't have enough talent to go to a super bowl, but its not all about talent. Its about heart, its about the fight. The Bears look and play together as a team. They play with heart. Remember that hit, Cutler put a hit on Steelers defensive back Robert Golden...that's passion, that's heart. For a team who has dug themselves in a hole, which players are going to take it upon themselves to get them out? Which players are going to put the game and team on their back?
The Bears are favored to win by eight. Looking at how both of these two teams have reached tonight's matchup. The Bears winning by eight sounds right, however the Giants need to win badly. I wouldn't be surprised if the Bears let the Giants hang around and then eventually lose the game to them. At this point, the Giants have nothing else to lose besides pride. Even though their record is bad, they still do have a good quarterback and receivers connection. With no running game, it will be hard to keep defensive backs off of the receivers. Therefore I believe the Giants defensive line comes alive tonight and rattles Cutler until he commits turnovers, which will give the Giants good field position. The Bears pass rush is in a coma. If they give Eli time in the pocket to get passes downfield, his receivers will get separation and he will have a big night. The Bears need to make sure that Giant pass rush will stay quiet. Run the ball and let Forte keep the defense honest. Bear hugs vs. Giant smiles. Bears are looking to give hugs at the end, while the Giants are looking to walk away with a smile.