Giants Seek Respectability Against Bears In Thursday Night Contest
By Curt Macysyn
The New York Giants sang a familiar tune last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. New York came back from a 19-7 halftime deficit to lead Philadelphia 21-19 late in the third quarter, but the G-men once again self-destructed, as quarterback Eli Manning threw three fourth quarter interceptions. Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles tossed two late touchdown passes which earned the Birds a 36-21 win at the Meadowlands.
Meanwhile in Chicago, the Bears won the statistical battle against the New Orleans Saints, but dropped their second consecutive contest 26-18 at Soldier Field. Led by Jay Cutler’s 340 passing yards, Chicago had 434 total yards of offense against New Orleans. Unfortunately for the Bears, the team did not generate enough scoring, and they allowed the Saints to control the time of possession as well.
New York is now mired in last place in the NFC East, while Chicago stayed tied with the Detroit Lions for the top spot in the NFC North with a 3-2 record.
Alouette, gentille alouette
The Bears jettisoned head coach Lovie Smith after the 2012 campaign, where the team went 10-6 but missed the playoffs. The search for a new head coach extended north of the border to Canada, and former Montreal Alouttes head coach Marc Trestman was hired. Trestman coached the Alouettes to back-to-back Grey Cup championships in 2009 and 2010. The Bears are the ninth NFL franchise that Trestman has worked for, but the first time he has been a head coach in the NFL.
Trestman is known as an offensive innovator, and his hiring is looked upon as a possible jump start to quarterback Jay Cutler’s career. Cutler is now in his fifth year with the Bears, and he is off to a good start. Cutler has a strong arm and has completed 65.7 percent of his passes in 2013. The Vanderbilt University product already has 10 touchdown tosses but averages more than one interception per game (6 INT in 5 games).
Cutler has a pair of big receivers in Brandon Marshall (6’4″) and Alshon Jeffery (6’3″) that he likes to utilize. Jeffery set a franchise record last week with 218 receiving yards against the Saints. If Terrell Thomas is not available for the Giants, then New York could have trouble containing Marshall and Jeffery.
Running back Matt Forté is a solid performer as a runner and receiver. Forté averages 4.6 yards per carry and is on-pace for his fourth 1,000-yard season. He also is a threat as a pass catcher and already has 27 catches from the backfield. Backup running back Michael Bush is a bruising ball carrier at 245 pounds. Bush sees time as the short yardage specialist where his size can move the pile.
Monsters of the Midway
The face of the Bears franchise, Brian Urlacher, retired after last season, but linebacker Lance Briggs has stepped into Urlacher’s leadership role accumulating 51 tackles this season. Chicago also boasts two top flight cornerbacks in Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman. The Bears have only eight sacks this season, with pass rush specialist Julius Peppers only netting one sack and eight tackles so far. The Giants patchwork offensive line should be able to hold their own with the Chicago unit.
Overall the Bears are 22nd in the NFL in total defense, giving up 376.6 yards per game. Chicago gives up 278.4 yards through the air, which ranks the team 23rd in the NFL. Look for the Giants to attack the Bears via the arm of Eli Manning and his trio of talented receivers, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. Randle had two touchdown catches against the Eagles last week.
The Giants will face ex-teammate Martellus Bennett, who signed a free agent contract with Chicago in the off-season. Bennett has 25 catches and three touchdowns this season. Return specialist Devin Hester does not have a return for touchdown this season, but the Giants have already given up two punt returns for TDs. Bears first round pick Kyle Long is the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long. The younger Long starts at offensive guard for Chicago.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on