Justin Fields' response among things to watch in Bears vs. Giants

Fields' response headlines things to watch in Bears vs. Giants originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears exited September at 2-1 after wins over the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans. But the record doesn't tell the entire story.

The Bears are one of the best rushing teams in the NFL and are incredibly opportunistic on defense. But their passing attack has been rickety, and the pass rush is inconsistent at best.

Head coach Matt Eberflus and his staff still have a lot of work to do with the 2022 Bears. That work continues Sunday against another surprise 2-1 team – the New York Giants.

The Giants and Bears are two teams in the same position. Both are under new regimes. Both have young quarterbacks trying to prove they are part of the solution. And both have a litany of weaknesses to exploit.

Here's what to watch for at the Meadowlands on Sunday:


Justin Fields was awful in Week 3 against the Houston Texans' subpar pass defense.

Fields has completed just 23 of 45 passes for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions through three weeks.

Fields called his performance in Week 3 "trash" and vowed to be better for his teammates.

The Bears saw "progress" from Fields during the week of practice as the young signal-caller continues to make incremental improvements to his footwork, mechanics, and pocket presence.

Bad games happen in the NFL, especially for young quarterbacks. Fields' stinker against the Texans doesn't mean it's time to cut bait.

But it will be telling how he responds Sunday against the Giants. I'll be watching to see how Fields carries himself, if he's more aggressive pulling the trigger, and whether or not the Bears have found a way to get the talented quarterback in rhythm early in games.

Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy's response will be almost as interesting. His passing game clearly isn't working. Does he change things up in an attempt to get Fields comfortable? Or does he stick with his formula and hope for better results?

The Giants have surrendered just a shade over 200 yards per game through the air so far this season. The secondary is the strength of the Giants' defense.

I expect the Bears to lean on the run game for as long as possible Sunday in New York.

But Fields will have his moments. Will the progress the Bears have seen in practice lead to production Sunday? Or are we headed for another week of QB questions at Halas Hall?

Encore time

Khalil Herbert ran like a man possessed in Week 3 against the Texans.

Entering in relief of an injured David Montgomery, Herbert racked up 157 yards and two scores on 20 carries against Houston. Expect him to get the rock early and often in Week 4.

The Giants' run defense ranks 28th by DVOA this season and will be without defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

The one thing the Bears have done well offensively is run the ball, and they won't be afraid to give Herbert a significant workload with Montgomery ruled out for Week 4.

"He has a cool patience about him," Getsy said of Herbert. "I think that's as much as anything. I think Coach [Walker] does a great job with those guys and training their eyes where they're supposed to be. But I think Khalil's got a really cool patience about him that he's able to kind of let things happen and make it feel like he's not necessarily going full speed but he is, which then allows him to make cuts and read off the blocks of guys really well.

"But to me what stood out this game compared to the other ones was his ability to make the first defender miss whether that was a stiff arm, whether that was running through a tackle, whether that was a make-you-miss move, I think that was the biggest improvement this week."

The Bears hope Herbert can run back his Week 3 performance Sunday in New Jersey.

Has anyone seen the pass rush?

Head coach Matt Eberflus was frank that six sacks through three games just isn't good enough. Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams rarely bring pressure, but the Bears might have to dial up the blitz if the front four continues to be mediocre.

However, Sunday's matchup against the Giants could provide a cure for what ails the Bears' pass rush.

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has been 40.8 percent of the time this season. That ranks second behind, you guessed it, Fields.

On Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants gave up five sacks and 24 pressures. Jones has been sacked 13 times on the season.

Other than tackle Andrew Thomas, the Giant's pass-blocking issues extend across the offensive line. But the main weak links have been rookie tackle Evan Neal and guard Mark Glowinski.

RELATED: Bears overreactions: Is it time to panic about Fields?

The Bears should be able to attack the right side of the Giants' offensive line and put the heat on Jones.

If they can do that, the Giants quarterback will give the Bears opportunities to take the ball away.

Welcome to the show?

A hamstring injury has forced rookie Velus Jones Jr. to miss the first three games of the season. But the Bears' third-round pick practiced in full Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

With the Bears' passing attack desperately searching for a spark, getting the speedy Jones back could be just what they need.

"I can help him out a lot," Jones said of Fields. "That's why they drafted me early in the third round. That's really been on my mind. I've been visualizing that and manifesting, so when that day comes, I'm definitely going to go out there and give it my all, and show everybody what I can do, and prove it to myself."

So far this season, the Bears have struggled to get Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet going. Adding a playmaker like Jones, who the defense has to respect, could open up space for the Bears' other weapons.

Jones is trending toward making his NFL debut Sunday. He will be a welcome sight for Fields and the passing game if No. 12 can suit up.

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