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4 things to watch in Bears-Giants game


The Bears will look to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2013 when they host the New York Giants (0-1) Sunday in their home opener at Soldier Field. Here are four storylines to watch in the game:

(1) Will quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense pick up where they left off in the fourth quarter last Sunday in Detroit?

The Bears erased a 23-6 deficit entering the final period in last weekend's season opener against the Lions, rallying for an improbable 27-23 win as Trubisky threw three touchdown passes in the final 13:39. His passer rating was 143.3 in the fourth quarter, but just 65.1 through the first three periods as the offense mustered only a pair of field goals.

The objective for the Bears offense Sunday against the Giants is to perform at a high level for all 60 minutes.

"That's the consistency part that we're trying to evaluate right now, and that's what, sometimes, can make it hard," said coach Matt Nagy. "There can be times throughout the first three quarters where it can be frustrating for all of us, everybody on the sideline. But then you get to that fourth quarter and you see how great it can be and how exciting it can be.

"The biggest thing that we're trying to do right now, we're discussing as an offense in general, is really being able to have that consistency [in quarters] one through four with more good than bad, protect the football, get first downs, and then when you get those first downs, now turn them into touchdowns. We don't get too high about the fourth quarter and we don't get too low about the first three. We want to put a complete game together here this weekend."

(2) Will the Bears defense rebound after performing below expectations last Sunday against the Lions?

What was expected to be one of the NFL's top defenses this season struggled at times in the season opener. The unit allowed two touchdowns and one field goal on three possessions spanning the second and third quarters, enabling the Lions to score 17 unanswered points.

The Bears permitted 426 total yards, their most in a season opener since 1965. Quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 297 yards and future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 93 yards on 14 carries.

The Bears were fortunate to escape with a victory. It came after Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift dropped a potential game-winning touchdown pass with just :06 remaining.

"I don't think you'd find anybody on the defensive side—coaches or players—who would say, 'Hey, we're OK,' because we weren't good," said defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. "I have to do a better job preparing these guys. I have to do a better job of coaching. And then we have to execute better. That's just how it is. We didn't do our job. We didn't play well in certain situations and particularly in the run game. We pride ourselves on stopping the run. So we have to be better there."

(3) Will the Bears rushing attack be as efficient as it was in Detroit?

They say a productive ground game is a quarterback's best friend, and that was the case against the Lions as the Bears rushed for 149 yards on 28 carries. They topped that total in only three games last season.

The offensive line did an excellent job of opening holes, and the run game seemed to benefit from Trubisky taking more snaps from directly under center versus the shotgun like he has the past two seasons.

Listed as questionable with a groin injury, David Montgomery rushed for 64 yards on 13 carries. Tarik Cohen added 41 yards on seven attempts—more yards than he compiled on the ground in any game last season. And receiver-turned-running back Cordarrelle Patterson added 19 yards on four carries.

"I thought for the most part, they made good decisions," said running backs coach Charles London. "They followed their reads and did a good job putting the ball where it needed to go."

On Sunday, the Bears will face a Giants defense that allowed Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. to rush for 113 yards on 19 carries last Monday night. The unit is led by linebacker Blake Martinez, a free-agent addition who finished among the NFL's top three leading tacklers each of the past three seasons when he played for the Packers.

(4) Will the Bears defense be able to contain Giants running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones?

Barkley figures to be fired up after being held to just six yards on 15 carries by the Steelers. He was also criticized this week by former Giants great Tiki Barber for an unwillingness to pick up blitzes.

One of the top young backs in the NFL, Barkley rushed for 1,307 and 1,003 yards in his first two seasons. Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, a veteran NFL coach, said Thursday that Barkley reminds him of Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell.

"This guy's a special, special talent," Pagano said. "He'll run around you, run through you, [he's] got speed. Once he gets in the open field, he'll take it the distance. He's a great player. We've got our hands full."

Jones, meanwhile, is in his second season after a promising rookie year during which he passed for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns in 13 games. Despite being under constant pressure last Sunday against the Steelers, the sixth pick in the 2019 draft completed 26 of 41 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns while also throwing two interceptions.

"You can see even from his first year to now this year, you can just feel the improvement," Nagy said. "I thought he was a really good quarterback last year, but even in one game this year, you see the confidence he's built in himself and in his coaches and in the scheme. Moving the football, he's a sneaky-good runner for his size. He does a good job with that. He's super smart, so schematically, they're putting him in great positions to be able to make plays. Our defense understands this is a good quarterback we're about to see, and we've got a lot of respect for him."

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