Giants vs. Bears: Breaking Down Chicago's Game Plan
The Giants have struggled all season long with consistency on both sides of the football. That has led to an abysmal 0-5 record to start the season.
The Bears lead the all-time series with the Giants 32-22-2, including a record of 17-11 at home. Thursday night will be the fifth time the two teams have squared off in prime time, with the teams splitting the first four contests.
Thursday night, the Giants will likely be in full-out desperation mode, doing whatever it takes to get a win. The Bears will need to look at what other teams have done successfully against the Giants this season to have an effective game plan.
Get pressure on Eli Manning early and often
As cliche as it sounds, the most effective way of slowing down Eli Manning is getting pressure on him and forcing him to make bad throws.
Manning has struggled all season behind a beat-up offensive line. Due to feeling constant pressure and often pressing too hard with his throws, he has already thrown 12 interceptions through the team's first five games.
The Giants' offensive line has been plug-and-play for the better part of this season, and it does not look like he will get much help this Thursday night. The Star Ledger's Dave Hutchinson has reported that center David Baas will not be available Thursday night due to a lingering neck injury. Guard Chris Snee was lost to season-ending hip surgery late last week (per New York Daily News).
The Giants are tied for sixth worst in the league, having given up 15 sacks already this season. The Bears have struggled to get much pressure up front from their defensive line and given the recent season-ending injuries to Henry Melton and Nate Collins, the Bears will likely need to blitz more to get pressure on Manning.
This past Sunday during their 36-21 victory over the Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles were able to get pressure on Manning late in the game via a blitz that ultimately resulted in an interception.
In this first photo, the Eagles initially line up their nickelback Brandon Boykin (No. 22) on Victor Cruz in the slot. When the ball is snapped, Boykin allows a clean release from Cruz, who is picked up by linebacker DeMeco Ryans (No. 55) then runs a delayed blitz towards Manning.
The second picture shows that while left tackle Will Beatty has picked up Trent Cole (No. 58), the blitz was not properly identified, so left guard Kevin Boothe is not able to pick up Boykin coming from the outside.
The delayed blitz caused a slow reaction from the offensive line. In the picture below, both Boykin and Fletcher Cox (No. 91) are able to collapse around Manning, forcing him to step up in the pocket.
Due to the collapsing pocket, the rushers are able to change the trajectory of Manning's arm, resulting in Mychal Kendricks' interception in the photo below.
Because of the Bears' lack of consistent pressure up front this season, they may need to blitz Manning similar to the way the Eagles did on Sunday afternoon.
Create mismatches offensively and utilize Jay Cutler outside of the pocket
In Week 4, the Giants faced a West Coast offense similar to the one run by the Bears. Alex Smith and the Chiefs racked up three touchdowns through the air along with 288 passing yards.
The Bears offense has the potential to be more dynamic due to two stellar wide receivers (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery) but many of the team's concepts are similar.
The Chiefs like to utilize running back Jamaal Charles in both the running and passing game, just as the Bears like to do with Matt Forte. Forte does not possess the same top-end speed as Charles, but he has the ability to make defenders miss and can sometimes cause matchup nightmares.
During the first quarter of their Week 4 matchup, the Chiefs lined up in the shotgun with quarterback Alex Smith (pictured below). He had two receivers out to his left, a tight end on the line of scrimmage, and a single wide receiver split out to his right with Charles next to him in the backfield.
Mathias Kiwanuka had coverage on Charles out of the backfield. Due to the pocket collapsing around him (pictured below), Smith rolled out to his right, drawing Kiwanuka back towards the line of scrimmage.
Kiwanuka's slight step back inside allowed Charles to find a hole in the coverage (pictured below), and he was able to turn the catch into a 31-yard gain.
Charles was aware of the mismatch he had against the slower Kiwanuka. When realizing that he had taken a look back at Smith, Charles was able to capitalize in open space.
In the past, some of Jay Cutler's best throws have come with him improvising and getting himself out of the pocket. The Giants still have the ability to get pressure on the quarterback, but if he can find mismatches like Alex Smith did against the Giants, they will have the ability to close out the Giants very early on Thursday night.
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