Giants need discipline to maul Bears on Sunday night
For the Giants to salvage their season — and compete against the undefeated Chicago Bears — they will have to do something they haven’t done yet: play smart and disciplined football for four quarters.
Harping on the fundamentals may seem trite and cliche, but the Giants (1-2) haven’t been sound in their techniques or strategies in two lopsided losses and a lone, sloppy victory. Costly penalties and a disproportionate amount of turnovers — six picks and four lost fumbles in three games — are just two of the areas where Big Blue must improve if they’re to climb to 2-2 against the roaring Bears.
Overmatched Giants linebackers
The defensive line has handled the bulk of the tackling work while the linebackers struggle to define their place on the field. The linebackers limited Tennessee’s Chris Johnson until the fourth quarter last week, but face a different threat with Chicago’s Matt Forte, who figures heavily into the Bears’ passing game. Pass-catching tight end Greg Olsen also presents a significant challenge, requiring more safety help that could leave the G-Men vulnerable to the Bears’ deep-threat receiver Johnny Knox.
Not the Monsters of the Midway
Despite the Bears’ stout run defense, the Giants should be able to move the chains through the air. Two-time All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers hasn’t significantly improved Chicago’s pass rush; the team has only two sacks this season (29th in the NFL). With Chicago’s secondary allowing 300-yard passers in each of the Bears’ last two games, Eli Manning could match his 386-yard passing game last week — but to better results. Mario Manningham’s concussion takes away Manning’s top receiver (14 catches, 238 yards, TD), but opens the door for preseason speedster Victor Cruz.
Getting out of Dodge
Patience is required when dealing with rookies, but it quickly wears thin when Matt Dodge is Big Blue’s only punting option. Although his 44.9-yard per punt average is respectable, the punts’ non-existent hang time is allowing a 33-yard net average. Sacrificing nearly 12 yards in field position per punt is more dangerous when facing a special-teams scoring threat like Chicago’s Devin Hester.
McKenzie on watch
He apologized to his teammates on Monday for drawing two personal fouls and killing Big Blue’s field position against the Titans, but 31-year-old tackle Kareem
McKenzie could find his role up for grabs. With second-year tackle Will Beatty nursing a right foot injury, the Giants could give former three-time Pro Bowl lineman Shawn Andrews more playing time as he familiarizes himself with the offense.