New York Giants: jay cutler

CHICAGO -- Things started about as poorly as they could have started for the New York Giants against the Chicago Bears here at Soldier Field. Eli Manning threw interceptions on each of the Giants' first two possessions, raising his league-leading total to 14, and the second was run back for a touchdown by Bears cornerback Tim Jennings. That got the Bears out to an early 7-0 lead that could have been worse if Chicago had elected to kick an easy field goal after the first interception instead of going for it on fourth-and-2.

And yes, the Giants trail 24-14 at the half, the Bears get the ball back to start the second half and the strong likelihood is that the Giants leave here with an 0-6 record after becoming the first team in NFL history to allow 30 or more points in each of its first six games.


There have been some encouraging signs. For example, with fullback John Conner paving the way, Brandon Jacobs rushed for 53 yards and a touchdown on eight carries in the first quarter alone. The Giants' first-quarter total of 56 rushing yards nearly equaled the league-worst average of 56.8 they brought into the game. The Bears are banged up at defensive tackle and seemed to be daring the Giants to run the ball, and the Giants have been able to do it. The threat of a running game has also helped Manning and the passing game, as the touchdown pass to Rueben Randle that tied the game at 14-14 came on play-action.

The Giants also are 4-for-6 on third downs, which is significant since the were 16-for-61 on third down for a league-worst percentage of 26.2 through the first five games.

Jon Beason, who got the start at middle linebacker in his second game since coming over from Carolina in a trade, also showed a lot in the early going. He's the kind of physical, athletic presence the Giants' linebacking corps has lacked, and you can see why they wanted to work him in so quickly. He did get caught up on the first of Jay Cutler's touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall, following Alshon Jeffery and leaving Marshall open in the end zone, but that had a lot to do with a well-designed play by the Bears. Beason has looked good overall.

Still, the Giants trail by 10 on the road and have already turned the ball over twice. All is most definitely not well. As much as Manning seems to want to keep throwing to Randle, he appeared to be part of the problem on both of the interceptions. Hakeem Nicks still isn't separating from receivers. And of course, the dormant Giants pass rush is getting nowhere near Cutler. The Giants remain a very bad team with a ton of problems, but they have at least shown some signs of competence in the first half of this game.

W2W4: Giants at Bears

October, 10, 2013
CHICAGO -- The New York Giants are 0-5 for the first time since the replacement-player season of 1987 as they head into Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The only time the Giants have ever started 0-6 was 1976, when they went 0-9 before finishing 3-11. Here's a look at four things to watch tonight as the Giants try to avoid adding to that sorry bit of history.

Missed opportunity? The Bears are incredibly banged up at defensive tackle, where key players like Henry Melton, Nate Collins and Stephen Paea are either out for the year or have been missing time lately due to injury. This theoretically makes the Bears vulnerable to the run. But the Giants have the worst rushing offense in the NFL this year and are without starting running back David Wilson, who has a neck injury and won't play. It's theoretically possible that Brandon Jacobs and/or Da'Rel Scott could have a good game against that depleted Chicago front, but they've shown little this year that would lead anyone to expect it.

Remembering better times: It's hard to forget the game three years ago in which the Giants sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler nine times in the first half and he couldn't come out to play the second. That was an all-time pinnacle game for the storied Giants pass rush, but with just five sacks in five games so far this year the Giants do not appear to be that sort of team anymore. The Bears have started the same five offensive linemen in every game this year and are protecting Cutler much better than they did in the past. Jason Pierre-Paul is long overdue for a big game and could be a difference-maker for the Giants defense if he can get off his blocks.

Can they protect the ball? At all? With key defensive players such as Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman game-time decisions with injuries, the Bears may not be positioned as well as they usually would to force the Giants into turnovers. The Giants have turned the ball over 20 times this year, eight more than any other team in the league. Eli Manning has thrown a league-leading 12 interceptions. The Bears have 14 takeaways, the third-highest figure in the league. If the Giants only turn it over twice in this game, they would have to consider the night something of a success.

Covering the big guys: Bears wide receivers Brandon Marshall (6-4, 230) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 216) are big and physical and can present matchup problems for smaller defensive backs. Prince Amukamara should be able to hold his own at one of the Giants' cornerback spots, but watch the matchup with 5-9, 185-pound third-stringer Trumaine McBride against whichever of the big guys Amukamara's not covering on a given play.

Big Blue Morning: Giants in an 0-2 hole

September, 16, 2013
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants

The news of the day: The Giants lost their home opener 41-23 to the Denver Broncos to fall to 0-2 for the season. They've been 0-2 before, most notably in 2007 when they recovered to win the Super Bowl, but that's not really relevant to the current situation from which Tom Coughlin must find a way to rescue his team. Eli Manning is a significant part of the problem so far, as his four interceptions Sunday night raised his league-leading total to seven through just two games. The defense keeps insisting it's playing well, but I think it's all relative. They've allowed 747 yards in two games.

Behind enemy lines: Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was happy to be done with his third career game against his younger brother, and the Broncos defensive backs weren't surprised they got called for so many penalties in their physical battles with the Giants wide receivers, Jeff Legwold writes.

Around the division: Every other team in the NFC East lost Sunday as well, which means the Cowboys and Eagles are tied for first place at 1-1 with the Giants and Redskins both 0-2. Jean-Jacques Taylor writes that Dallas' loss recalled a same-old issue: The inability to make the plays when it really mattered. John Keim writes that the Redskins' Robert Griffin III, who didn't play all preseason and barely practiced all offseason following reconstructive knee surgery, has to play more like his dynamic old self. And Phil Sheridan writes that the Eagles' loss exposed the flaws in Chip Kelly's breakneck-pace approach to offense. The one that keeps striking me as alarming is the extent to which they take chances and make sacrifices in pass protection.

Around the league: The early games Sunday were mesmerizing. Seemed like they all went down to the wire. The throw Jay Cutler made to Martellus Bennett to win the game for the Bears against the Vikings may have been my favorite. Kelly's getting all the ink, but what if Marc Trestman is going to make Cutler a star in Chicago? Wouldn't that be just as impressive?