Twelve weeks into the 2019 NFL season, and fans of two of the most famous cities in the world (New York and Chicago) are having second thoughts about their perspective football teams. You know, sometimes we just need a do-over, a second chance if you will, to correct a mistake or poor decision before it becomes a haunting regret. Doubts about starting quarterbacks, player personnel, the competency of head coaches and other issues plague both the Bears and Giants.
So, before drawing any conclusions, I suggest we use P.A.W.S. (Predictive Analysis With Statistics) to get a second opinion on where these two teams fit in the NFL landscape.
Chicago and New York differ on myriad levels ranging from cuisine and culture to tempo and city infrastructure, yet there are things they share in common. They both have two famous nicknames that describe each city's personality. Chicago is known as the "Windy City" and the "City of Broad Shoulders," whereas New York is affectionately called the "Big Apple" and the "City That Never Sleeps." Both teams have losing records (Bears 4-6, Giants 2-8) and coincidentally, each organization drafted players No. 2 overall in subsequent years, expecting to build their franchises around those selections.
In the 2017 draft, the Bears moved up from the third to the second overall position and selected quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and last year Chicago was rewarded with a winning season (12-4) and its first division title since 2010. The following year at the 2018 draft, the Giants chose running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2 and he went on to win NFL offensive rookie of the year.
Last season, Barkley's stats were eye-popping. He was No. 2 in the NFL in carries (261), rushing yards (1,307), goal-line carries (13), receptions for running backs (91), and his 352 touches trailed only Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys. On top of all that, he led the league in all-purpose yards (2,028) and accounted for 37.6 percent of the Giants' total team yards generated on offense. He accomplished all of this for a team that only finished 5-11, making many wonder what impactful difference he really made. Should the Giants have drafted a quarterback to build around, and are Barkley's talents being wasted on a bad team?
Ironically, the Bears did draft a quarterback with their second pick, but now they and their fans are seriously contemplating if Trubisky was worth the selection. Trubisky's stats in his second season in Matt Nagy's offensive system are regressive and disheartening. Last year, his yards per attempt (y/a) was 7.4, right around league average. This season, his 5.6 y/a is worst among quarterbacks who qualify, and his passing yards per game is 54 yards less than what he averaged in 2018. Furthermore, the Bears' losing record is reflective of Trubisky's struggles and a team engaged in second-guessing.
Trubisky and Barkley are extremely young players and their futures have yet to be determined. Entrusted with developing these athletes and getting the most out of them are their offensive-minded head coaches, Nagy and Pat Shurmur. Both coaches are in Year 2 leading their young squads and the ineffectiveness of each team raises concerns about each coach's ability to develop talent and win games.
Even with a talented running back like Barkley, the Giants average 18.6 rush attempts per game on the road, second-worst in the league. Conversely, New York passes 69.5 percent of the time in away games, which is the second-most in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Giants, an inefficient running attack and excessive passing has led to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones being sacked for the most yards (247) entering Week 12. Over the past two seasons, Shurmur's offense hasn't ranked higher than 22nd in either total yards or overall points.
Nagy isn't faring much better in his second season as Bears head coach. During home games in the fourth quarter, Chicago averages a paltry three points, which is the second-worst in the league. Over the last three games, the Bears are averaging only 56 plays per contest and that, too, is second-lowest in the NFL. Nagy's aerial attack also ranks just third from the bottom in passing yards per game this season (182.8 YPG) entering Week 12.
The Bears are talented and shouldn't have to play second fiddle to any team, least of all the Giants. They have twice as many wins as New York and can win their fifth game Sunday if…
● The Bears continue to emphasize the run (Giants give up 6.2 yards per rush on the road, which is the second-worst in the NFL)
● Trubisky can stay healthy (missed last year's game, a loss to the Giants in overtime)
● The Bears take advantage of a Giants team that is last in points allowed on the road (33.2 PPG)
It's time for the "second city" to double down and play with confidence, conviction and attitude. Can I get someone to second that notion?