The Bears head out to face the New York Giants on Sunday night as see if they can remain the only unbeaten team in the NFC. We did a little Q&A exchange with the lead blogger from FanSided’s New York Giants site. Here are my answers to his questions posted on his site.
Andrew Illnicki from GMenHQ took time to return the favor. Here’s my Q’s and his A’s:
1. Lovie Smith is no stranger to the hot seat. Should he make room for Tom Coughlin? Has Coughlin lost control of his team? Is he done in NY?
Not just yet. Let’s not blow this out of proportion — a lack of execution and some tipped passes won’t be costing him his job in my mind. I know that there has been a lot of speculation in the mainstream media this week that Coughlin should be on the hot seat after a blowout on the road with the Colts and another sloppy loss to the Titans where the Giants had 11 penalties and 3 turnovers, which is the antithesis of what he preaches. But it’s former players like Tiki Barber with the help of Jerome Bettis for SI that have thrust Coughlin’s name into the limelight as the reason why the team has fallen apart, that his message is no longer heard, that the players have soured on him, there is a locker room crisis with no leadership, etc. But hearing from the players, that’s not the case. Truthfully, I could tell you the exact same thing occurred in 2007 after the first few games, the year they won the Superbowl. Let’s listen to reason and Michael Strahan here – Coughlin hasn’t all of a sudden forgotten how to coach.
2. The Giants have the reputation of being a running team yet they’re only ranked 14th in rushing, averaging 115 yards per game. Meanwhile the Bears defense is ranked #1 against the run. Do you think the Giants will be able to run against the Bears?
Yes the Giants have struggled running the ball compared to what they did a few years ago. I look at offensive line first though. That was their major strength when they led the NFL in rushing. Injuries/surguries during the offseason, an early lack of cohesion, and some setbacks at TE with Kevin Boss going out week 1 are more to blame for the less than stellar numbers than Ahmad Bradshaw is. As for the Bears, I’m not yet convinced that they can’t be run on. I think the Giants are going to come out and try to pound the rock Sunday night, for sure. I think you’re going to see a fired up Brandon Jacobs for the first time in a while take some carries up the middle to try and soften your LB’s. He showed us a glimpse last week. But the Giants are also going to move through the air too and take some chances deep downfield. Eli Manning has clearly tried to shoulder some of that burden over the last 2 years to try and balance the team out.
3. The Bears offense is ranked 5th in the NFL in passing yards, averaging 277 yards per game through the air while the Giants D is ranked #4 against the pass. Something’s gotta give. Can the Bears pass on the Giants?
I think the corners are going to give up more short to mid length passes than anything else. The 3 deep safety look with Rolle, Phillips, and Grant will probably be on display. Going deep may not be how the Bears are going to get their yardage, but that said, TE’s over the middle and RBs that get quickly into a route like Forte likes to do can spell trouble for Big Blue.
4. The Bears defense is pretty opportunistic, averaging nearly 3 takeaways per game and a +3 on the season and the Giants come in at a -4. That would seem to favor the Bears. Can Eli and the Giants protect the ball against the Bears defense?
If the receivers can actually catch the balls Eli throws, the Giants have a shot to go turnover free in the passing game this week. Eli has been sharper than his stats would let on. Ahmad Bradshaw is going to be more focused on not coughing up the football, or so he says. They’ve had so many turnovers though the first few weeks that I can’t guarantee they won’t leave one out there for the Bears to capitalize on. I’ll give one to you, but any more than that and it’s going to be hard to overcome.
5. Jay Cutler has been under siege so far this season. Does he make it out of this game in one piece?
I have to say I’m liking some of the things DC Perry Fewell has done with moving the Giants DEs around to stay deceptive — but Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have not had big sack numbers since before 2008. Mathias Kiwanuka is the guy with 4 sacks that often goes from NT to DE to MLB… Cutler better watch his back when he can’t find Kiwi on the field — he’s already coming for him.
Editor’s note – this exchange was completed before Kiwanuka was declared OUT for Sunday. Cutler can rest easy I guess.
6. Who is one under the radar Giants player that Bears fans may not have heard of before Sunday that they will know for sure after the game?
It’s tough but I think there is a couple. Jason Pierre-Paul on defense and special teams has shown some big play ability. If Fewell moves him around like he did last week he could spell trouble for you. Chase Blackburn is coming back this week and is reportedly fired up to try and shut down your special teams game… that’s one to remember. And I’m not sure if TE Kevin Boss is someone you all know, but the Giants will see the Packers film and Finley with space to work with all night, but Boss is easily the most under-utilized player the Giants have on offense. Great hands, blocks well, smart player.
7. What’s your prediction for the score?
I dare to dream, but I think the Giants shut their naysayers up this week with a big, big win at home. Offense shows up, and defense shuts it down for the Giants. 27-17 Giants.
Thanks to Andrew and GMenHQ.
Through the month of October, my usual BEAR DOWN signoff will be in pink to raise awareness for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.