What we learned as Fields, offense go silent in loss vs. Giants originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Giants gave the Bears every opportunity to leave MetLife Stadium at 3-1.
But the Bears just wouldn’t take it.
Justin Fields looked better a week after his debacle against the Houston Texans, but the Bears failed to find the end zone and ultimately fell 20-12.
The Bears looked like they would have one more chance to tie the game after they forced the Giants to punt with just over two minutes remaining. But rookie Velus Jones Jr. muffed the punt, the Giants recovered, and the celebration was on at the Meadowlands.
Here’s what we learned in the Bears’ 20-12 loss to the Giants in New York (New Jersey):
Lack of discipline
Stopping Saquon Barkley and keeping Daniel Jones in the pocket was a focus for the Bears in practice this week. It didn’t take.
Jones held a masterclass on play-action fakes in the first half, and the Bears’ defense acted like they had never defended a fake before. Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka ran circles around Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams in the first half as Barkley and Jones got loose on countless occasions.
In the first half, Jones and Barkley combined to run for 139 yards and 17 carries, including touchdown runs of 21 and 8 by Jones. Both of those runs came on play-action bootlegs.
The Giants led 14-9 at halftime.
The Bears did a much better job of staying home on the bootlegs in the second half.
Jones went out in the third quarter with an ankle injury, and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor left in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. Jones was inserted back into the game, but the Giants went wild-cat for the remainder of the drive and were able to tack on a field goal to make it 20-12 with 5:31 remaining.
The Bears’ defense missed several opportunities to make big plays throughout the game, and it was enough to let the Giants off the hook.
On the day, the Giants rushed for 262 yards on 44 carries as the Bears’ run defense was nowhere to be found.
Red-zone issues and an offensive slog
Entering Sunday’s game, the Bears had run 20 red-zone snaps on the season and thrown just one pass.
The reliance on the running game in the red area continued in the first half of Sunday’s game.
The Bears marched into the red zone on their opening drive and tried to hammer it in with Khalil Herbert. Herbert gained 1 yard on first down and 2 more on second to set up third-and-7. Fields drifted to his left on third down and threw incomplete for Dante Pettis to bring out replacement kicker Michael Badgley.
The Bears tried to lean on Hebert again on their next red-zone possession. After Fields was sacked on first down for a loss of 2, Herbert picked up 9 on second to make it third-and-3. The Bears handed it off again, but Herbert only picked up 1 yard. A run on third-and-3 from the 5-yard line would often suggest a team plans to go for it on fourth down. But the Bears had no such plans, and Badgley banged home a 22-yarder to make it 7-6.
Chicago marched into the red zone to open the third quarter, but the story was the same.
Herbert toted the rock for 4 yards on first down before Fields threw incomplete on second down and hit Cole Kmet for a loss of 3 on third down. A Badgley field goal made it 14-12.
Red-zone issues aside, the Bears’ offense was largely ineffective Sunday in the Meadowlands.
Fields ripped off a couple of good throws, but he was unable to get into a rhythm due to poor protection and a subpar rushing attack.
The Bears only gained 293 yards on the day. A week after rushing for 281 yards, the Giants held the Bears to 149 yards on the ground. Fields was responsible for 52 of the Bears’ ground yards.
Fields finished the day 11 for 22 for 174 yards and was sacked six times.
The Bears’ offensive line had been one of the best run-blocking units in the NFL through three weeks. While the pass protection has been spotty, they could not afford to lose any member of their “best six,” especially left guard Cody Whitehair.
The veteran offensive lineman left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and didn’t return. With Whitehair out, Lucas Patrick took over at left guard with Teven Jenkins playing at right guard.
The drop-off from Whitehair to Patrick was noticeable.
Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence had his way with Patrick, and the Bears’ offensive line struggled on both fronts with Whitehair out.
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