3 keys for Bears offense vs. Giants in Week 4

Two rebuilding teams will face off in New Jersey as the Chicago Bears travel to play the New York Giants. Both teams are 2-1 heading into Week 4 and have similar identities.

While the Giants have more star power with players like running back Saquon Barkley and defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York is a team with an average defense and a run-first offense with a young inexperienced quarterback.

The Bears will have another chance to establish their passing game on Sunday. The question is, will they?

Here are three things the Bears' offense needs to do to improve to 3-1 against the Giants in Week 4.

Become balanced on offense


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The Bears are averaging 15 passes per game for 99 yards. Chicago needs to establish a passing attack to be a long-term offensive threat. However, the Giants will provide another opportunity for the Bears to lean on the run.

Over the first three weeks, teams have attacked the Giants defense with a balanced attack. New York's opponents are averaging 30 passes and 25 rushing attempts. Compare that to the Bears, averaging 15 passes and 33 rushing attempts.

The Giants' run defense is weak, but it's better than the Texans defense they faced last week. New York will give up yards, but they're one of the better teams at preventing first downs by running the ball, and they've only allowed one rushing touchdown.

Teams adapt week-to-week in the NFL, and Chicago has made itself one-dimensional. Coming into this game, the Bears will be easy to defend if they become overly dependent on the run game.

Chicago is 2-1, but only throwing the ball 15 times for 99 yards per game isn't a sustainable way to win in the NFL. Like the Texans, the Giants offer another opportunity for the Bears' passing game to get going.

Quarterback and receiver improvement


AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

There is plenty of speculation around Justin Fields and the offense's struggles. No one is certain if the issue is Fields, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, or the wide receivers. What is certain is that Fields attempted more passes per game and had a better completion percentage.

Things have noticeably gotten worse for Fields. But he can't take all the blame. Last year, his expected completion percentage was 61%, only three percent worse than his actual completion percentage. This year, his true completion percentage is 16%, worse than his expected completion percentage, ranking among the worst in the league.

The expected completion statistic is calculated from the combination of receiver separation, receiver location on the field, and quarterback separation from the pass rush.

Knowing which receivers are at fault is hard because they haven't gotten enough targets to quantify their performance. But what can be said is teams are giving Darnell Mooney a yard less of a cushion than last year. Now that he's the WR1, teams have keyed on him. Unfortunately, his catch rate is the second-worst in the NFL, and he isn't generating yards after the catch like last year.

Bears running backs vs. Giants defense


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NFL defenses adjust quickly, and while not obvious, they are adapting to the Bears' run-only offense. Last year, David Montgomery only saw 8+ defenders in the box on 20% of his snaps. This year, Montgomery is in the top-10 for running backs facing 8+ defenders in the box, putting him in the same company as Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry.

Montgomery's struggles compared to Khalil Herbert is likely due to defenders recognizing Montgomery as a key for run-first. As a result, Montgomery averages three yards per carry and 30 yards per game less than Herbert.

For comparison, more balanced attacks with premier running backs like the Colts, Panthers and Chargers only see 8+ defenders in the box, an average of 13% of total snaps.

NFL defenses will continue to test the Bears to see if they can win doing something other than running 30+ times per game. Then, heading into Week 4, the Giants will look to prove they've cracked the code.

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire


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