Giants (2-8) at BEARS (4-6)
TV: Fox 32
Radio: 780 WBBM
For your future’s sake
I’ve got advice I’d advise you to take
Don’t keep betting on it
“Well, it’s gotta light me up sometime”
You lost your turn
Matt Nagy is getting some emo treatment this week, at least from FFUD. The lyrics of Anthony Green spell out where I think a lot of the media, NFL sources and Chicago fans are at with Nagy: If you can’t stop trying to force whatever it is you’ve convinced yourself is the plan on offense, you’re not long for this job. You could also argue this fits for Ryan Pace as well; you’ve lost this season but you can still assess what’s worth keeping for the run in 2020 and beyond – if you’re smart enough. Even Chicago fans can take the quoted advice – Let go of the sky high expectations and accept that this ain’t it. Wait for your next turn.
Will that turn be in 2020? Nagy, Pace and co. will certainly say all the right things and plan for that, but it’s whatever that plan entails that holds the fortune for this current Bears GM/HC contingent. That starts this week at home against the New York Giants, a team still trying to find it’s own way throw a plethora of odd management decisions and draft picks. Pace can learn a lot by looking across the sideline/press box, mostly the pitfalls he should avoid as he moves forward to try and fix his own debacle of a team.
The Giants limp in losers of six straight, though they do tend to keep it close with other cellar dwellers having lost one score games to the Jets, Lions and Cardinals in that stretch. Rookie Daniel Jones has taken over under center and been mostly bad with a few highlight reel tosses mixed in…sound familiar? The Giants bypassed Quenton Nelson, among others like Roquan Smith, Sam Darnold and Bradley Chubb) for the opportunity to take Saquon Barkley second overall in 2018 and make him the true focal point of the offense. Barkley has been one of the best weapons in the league since, but it hasn’t translated to success for the Giants, especially in year two where the offensive line and pass catchers have let them down in a big way. The defense is even worse, ranking 27th or lower in all relevant defensive metrics. The Giants are a -12 in turnover differential with only the Miami Dolphins below them. Barkley can go for 150-200 yards easily, but if the team around him is this terrible, what was the point of spending the second overall pick on a Ferrari you can’t get outside your own neighborhood?
Dave Gettleman and the G-men did themselves no favors, dealing WR Odell Beckham Jr. and DT Olivier Vernon for next to nothing and letting All-Pro safety Landon Collins walk away for nothing. Collins situation was especially absurd, as the team could have tagged him, didn’t, refused to make any sort of passable contract offer to him and ended up pissing him off to the point that he sought out a deal in Washington so he would have the chance to play his old team twice a year. Yikes. They also dealt OBJ mere months after handing him a fat extension, costing themselves millions in dead cap space in the process. I haven’t even gotten to the odd coaching hire decisions and the bungling of Eli Manning‘s contract. The Giants are trash, on the field and off it.
The Bears, at 4-6, are not going to make the playoffs. They’re not going to have a first round pick in April, either. Pace can’t do much about either of those things right now, but what he can do is work with his Head Coach and make sure that they’re giving reps to the players they need to make decisions on in the near future. Mitchell Trubisky remains the great mystery box, at least to Pace/Nagy. Many in the league and the fan base have given up on Trubs (including yours truly), but the fact is they still have six games with which to assess the young signal caller. Nagy has argued, with some pretty favorable, timely quotes from Chase Daniel, that Mitch has absolutely been better the last two weeks. Some have stated the choice to pull Mitch at the end of the Rams game was more about sending a message veiled as being all injury related. The stats are a little uneven, but a strong outing against a bad Giants team to follow up the disgusting offensive display at the Rams last week would do Mitch and Nagy a lot of good.
There are players all over the roster that need assessing as well, and the scrutiny is going to start coming in the form of analysis like “You’re going to need to see more from (insert player on a rookie deal) on a play like that to keep him in the fold” from pundits and the media alike. “I’m not sure if you keep (veteran on a deal that can save the Bears more than the dead cap hurts) if these are the types of efforts you keep seeing from here” should also be pretty prevalent. The good news is that the Giants present an opportunity for a lot of these guys to start making compelling cases as to why they deserve another deal or to keep the one they have/get new money. The list of players with something to prove is a bit larger than a year ago when off season business was kept to a minimum – Eddie Jackson, Leonard Floyd, Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson, Roy Robertson-Harris, Nick Kwiatkoski, Nick Williams are all playing for new money; Prince Amukamara, Taylor Gabriel, and Eddy Pineiro are just trying to keep their jobs; ANY offensive linemen and tight ends are playing to earn a shot at all.
I guess I haven’t really gotten into any X’s and O’s of what these two teams might try to do this weekend, but I also don’t really know that they know what the hell they’re going to do. Neither has managed sustained success in any facet in 2019, but both have plenty they’d like to point to and prop up as “the Future” of their franchise. For Chicago, that needs to start with a passable display from Trubisky and the offense and some steady play and added pressure on the young QB Jones (looking at you, Khalil Mack) from Pagano’s defense. A loss, or even another terrible day of paltry offensive execution, could spell real doom for Nagy and Pace and a bunch of players up and down the roster. It could also be the spring board to some encouraging results in tough matchups to close out the season. Here’s to hoping Nagy takes the advice.
Prediction: Bears 22, Giants 17