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Breaking down some of Sunday’s game-changing plays
After a sluggish start in the Windy City, the New York Giants were able to adjust to the Mitchell Trubisky-led Chiacago Bears and come within one play of earning theor first victory under Joe Judge. The Giants were resilient as they battled through a contest without their star running back, and number one receiver; both of whom suffered injuries earlier in the game.
The Giants fell to 0-2, but in both losses New York had a realistic chance to win had the ball bounced a different way on a few different plays. The Bears scored all 17 points in the first half of their 17-13 victory on Sunday. The Giants defense was opportunistic in the second half and forced Trubisky to play like Trubisky.
The Giants third down defense was horrendous. New York lost the time of possession battle by 9 minutes, and, despite having four sacks Trubisky had so much time to extend plays on key third downs that kept the Giants defense on the field. The tone was set early by the Bears as they were able to march down the field, on their opening drive, and score a touchdown.
This is the 12th play of a drive where it’s the fourth third-down conversion that the Bears face. On this third-and-6, the Bears use pre-snap motion against man coverage, and the Giants send three rushers, with two underneath players spying Trubisky and staying near the sticks. second-year running back David Montgomery (32) leaks out of the backfield and Blake Martinez is put into conflict; either Martinez sinks to take Montgomery or he doesn’t allow Trubisky to pick up the first down with his legs. Trubisky shows run, Martinez bites, and the end result is a touchdown to Montgomery. This play, and drive, helped set the tone for the rest of the half.
Another huge play in the game was the third-and-8 touchdown to Darnell Mooney near the end of the half. New York has no down linemen in the game and they bring four: Nate Ebner, Lorenzo Carter, Blake Martinez, and Oshane Ximines – it did not work. Trubisky had so much time to maneuver and the man coverage on the backend was exposed due to the time given to Trubisky. Forcing a field goal attempt on this play would have been huge for the rest of the game, but the third-down efficiency for the Giants defense was really bad in this contest. Chicago converted 7 of the 10 third downs in the first half; but on the Bears’ first drive of the second half, after the Giants went three and out on the first possession of the half, the defense finally stepped up.
This play helped spark the comeback for the Giants, albeit the offense wasn’t able to move the football much, so the end result was a field goal. Nevertheless, they’re on the board! The signing of James Bradberry is proving to be very good for the Giants in the early parts of 2020. On this second down play, Chicago runs double slants to the field against the Giants nickel package. Anthony Miller (17) does the Giants a solid by falling down out of his break and while being contacted by Darnay Holmes. If Miller kept his balance, he would have had Devante Downs in coverage for a split second before Peppers sunk back into coverage after coming down into the box. Bradberry basically eliminated disgruntled star receiver Allen Robinson from the game plan for the Bears. On this play, Trubisky tries to thread the needle, but Bradberry plays through the catchpoint to disrupt Robinson and force the ball to pop into the air where Julian Love came down with the interception. Good physical play by Holmes to alter Miller’s release, great play by Bradberry to disrupt the catch point, and an opportunistic play by Love to be in position to come down with the interception, and give the Giants offense a chance to put points on the board.
Bradberry put the defense on his back early in the fourth quarter on this play. The unit struggled all game to get off the field on third down, but Bradberry made a great interception against one of the best 50/50 receivers in the NFL. Giants are in man coverage, cover one, with Martinez spying Trubisky with a four man pressure package. This leaves Love as the single high safety; although Bradberry is to the boundary of the field in a Cover 1 defense, it seems like he’s outside of the divider line that would dictate safety help, since Robinson is in plus splits of about five and releases outside. Love’s ability to help Bradberry is also compounded by the deep horizontal cross run by Mooney which is meant to freeze Love and open up a one on one opportunity for Robinson near the sideline. Robinson’s release at the line of scrimmage is smooth, but Bradberry is patient with his hips, stays square, jams and rides Robinson up his outside release while staying in his hip pocket. Trubisky could have thrown a better ball, but he puts it into the chest of Robinson; however, Bradberry reaches up and rips the ball out of the star receivers’ hands. This was a huge play in Giants territory that led to a 10-play drive from the Giants offense that was only, unfortunately, capped off by a field goal from Graham Gano.
The Giants defense stepped up huge in a difficult third-and-8, down by four with just under three minutes to go in the game. Instead of using no big linemen in this game, Graham relied on stunts from heavier players on the interior defensive line to pressure Trubisky, and it worked. It’s difficult to see the coverage from the broadcast film, but it looks like man with Martinez as the spy. Graham brings four men on the pressure package: Golden, Lawrence, Williams, and Carter. Williams looks like the 3-technique to the field, with Lawrence as the 2-technique to the boundary. Lawrence does a great job running through the guards blocking attempt and taking the center out of the play as the penetrator in the stunt, while Williams loops around that same guard and gets upfield pressure to force Trubisky to tuck the ball and focus his eyes within the pocket. Trubisky then attempts to run and is chased down by Martinez and Carter. This play led to the missed field goal by the Bears and put the Giants in a realistic situation to win. Good job by Graham to adjust and use his bigger players to help create pressure; earlier in the game, as we see, he didn’t use bigger linemen in similar situations and it failed horribly. Good adjustment by the defense in a key spot to help the Giants offense have a chance.
The Giants did not start this game well on either side, but they faced a ton of adversity and continued to fight their way into position to win this football game. The defense made a lot of big plays on third down in the second half, the offense was able to finally overcome the Bears defense to mount an 11, 13, and 10-play drive in the second half; thanks in part to the Giants using a ton of intermediate dig routes to combat how the Bears were shutting down the early quick passing game. Yes, the Giants are currently 0-2, and that’s unfortunate. However, it’s not nearly as unfortunate as the Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard injuries. I still feel there are a lot of good things to take away from the Giants, and how they finished this game. It’s evident that this team plays for their coaching staff, but now we have to see how they adjust. They must not start slow on the road like they did against Chicago, and they have to figure out ways to overcome the unfortunate injuries that the team suffered on Sunday.