Gi­ants pre­par­ing for Bears’ of­fense, not 2 QBs

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - NFL -

EAST RUTHER­FORD, N.J. — New York Gi­ants de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor James Bettcher had no in­ten­tion of de­sign­ing two game plans, even though Chicago Bears start­ing quar­ter­back Mitchell Tru­bisky has a shoul­der in­jury.

Bettcher is get­ting the Gi­ants (3-8) ready to face the Bears’ of­fense, and it doesn’t mat­ter whether Tru­bisky is back at the helm Sun­day at MetLife Sta­dium or vet­eran backup Chase Daniel is run­ning the show again for Chicago (8-3).

The NFC North-lead­ing Bears ex­tended their win­ning streak to five games on Thanks­giv­ing with Daniel lead­ing Chicago to a 23-16 win over the Lions in his first start since 2014.

“They are both good quar­ter­backs,” Gi­ants line­backer and de­fen­sive cap­tain Alex Ogle­tree said. “They haven’t changed much of their of­fense for ei­ther one. They play a lit­tle dif­fer­ent game, but for the most part, they do the same stuff. We’re pre­par­ing for ei­ther one. You never know who’s go­ing to play. So if Chase Daniel plays, we’ll be ready for him, and if Tru­bisky plays, we’ll be pre­pared as well.”

Tru­bisky was limited at prac­tice on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day, so it is look­ing less likely he will play Sun­day.

Bettcher said his ap­proach ev­ery week is to see what the de­fense needs to do to give the team its best chance. It in­cludes hav­ing some tweaks built in for the op­pos­ing quar­ter­backs.

“You cer­tainly have some things that you like ver­sus each of those two quar­ter­backs,” Bettcher said.

Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors do the same thing when the sta­tus of their start­ing quar­ter­back is un­cer­tain. They make sep­a­rate sheets out­lin­ing the plays and throws each quar­ter­back likes, although the game plan is rel­a­tively the same.

If Daniel gets the call again, he will have had a week prac­tic­ing with the of­fense. He did not get that com­ing off a short week of prepa­ra­tion for the Lions and still com­pleted 27 of 37 passes for 230 yards and two touch­downs.

“Lis­ten, it’s never changed for me and I told you this last week and I’ll tell you it again: I pre­pare ev­ery day like I’m the starter whether I get prac­tice reps or not,” Daniel said. “This week, I got the reps and we’ll see what it is (Thurs­day) and we’ll see what it is on Fri­day. My whole thing is we just try to take it day by day. I try to grasp the game plan day by day.”

Bears coach Matt Nagy said the team would do what is best for Tru­bisky. If he plays, it will be be­cause he is ready to go.

MR. MACK

Khalil Mack leads the Bears with eight sacks. The Gi­ants have given up 38, tied for sec­ond-worst in the league. Left tackle Nate Solder will draw the pri­mary as­sign­ment on Mack, but the line­backer also switches sides so he also will go up against right tackle Chad Wheeler. Ex­pect the Gi­ants to help both play­ers with a back or tight end help­ing on Mack.

SAFETY SCOR­ING

Bears safety Ed­die Jack­son is on a scor­ing tear. He re­turned in­ter­cep­tions for key touch­downs the past two games against Min­nesota and Detroit, earn­ing him NFC de­fen­sive player of the week hon­ors. Throw in a fum­ble re­cov­ery that he ran back to the end zone against Buf­falo on Nov. 4, and he has three TDs in the past four games.

That gave him an NFLlead­ing five de­fen­sive touch­downs since the Bears drafted him in the fourth round in 2017.

“I’ve never seen any­thing like him,” de­fen­sive end Akiem Hicks said. “He can cover the en­tire field, it seems like some­times. He knows how to get the ball in his hands and when he gets that ball in his hands he can make his way to the end zone.”

SCOPING VER­NON

Af­ter miss­ing the first five games with an an­kle in­jury, Gi­ants line­backer/ de­fen­sive end Olivier Ver­non has recorded one sack in six games. His other statis­tics aren’t good, ei­ther. He has 10 tack­les and six quar­ter­back hits. Earn­ing $17 mil­lion this sea­son, Ver­non was ex­pected to be a dom­i­nant pass rusher in the new 3-4 sys­tem in­stalled by Bettcher.

GROUND GAINS

Nagy has ex­pressed a de­sire to get Chicago’s ground game go­ing. Maybe this is the week it hap­pens.

Af­ter all, the Bears will be fac­ing a de­fense ranked 26th against the run. The Bears have rushed for 64 yards or less in three of the past four games — 38 last week.

BRIL­LIANT BARKLEY

The Bears have the NFL’s sec­ond-best run de­fense, al­low­ing an av­er­age of 80.8 yards. They just haven’t faced a half­back like Gi­ants rookie Saquon Barkley.

Play­ing be­hind a strug­gling line, the sec­ond pick over­all has run for 829 yards. He has run for at least 100 yards the last two games. Add in his 71 catches for 581 yards and he has 1,410 yards from scrim­mage, No. 3 in the league. His 12 touch­downs (eight rush­ing, four re­ceiv­ing) are one shy of the fran­chise rookie record and two short of the team’s sin­gle-sea­son mark.

Chris Szagola / As­so­ci­ated Press

Gi­ants run­ning back Saquon Barkley eludes Ea­gles free safety Corey Gra­ham in their Nov. 25 game.

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