When Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker put in video of the New York Giants, he did not see what much of the NFL and football public has been seeing.
The Giants are 0-5. They are turning the ball over, not stopping anyone.
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But those five losses include ones to Denver and Kansas City, both 5-0; and to Dallas and Philadelphia, the No. 2 and No. 6 scoring offenses in the league. Tucker, however, was seeing vestiges of what the Giants have in personnel, who did not all of a sudden become bad.
“They’ve got playmakers all over the field,” Tucker said. “They’ve got a future Hall of Fame quarterback that’s got a couple of Super Bowls. Every week in the NFL it’s a different challenge and these guys are no different. They have firepower. They have playmakers, and it’s evident when you turn the tape on.”
Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks have accounted for 845 combined receiving yards. And the Bears have allowed 25 pass plays of 20 yards or longer this season, in addition to coming off two defeats in which they managed a total of three takeaways. There is a simple and direct correlation in Bears’ minds.
“Any time you play a game like that, where you’re not able to take the ball away,” cornerback Tim Jennings observed about the New Orleans game in which the Bears had zero takeaways, “you’re not going to have a good chance of winning.”
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It is concerning, however, that since halftime of the Minnesota game, the secondary has had hands in just four of 10 takeaways. Jennings and Charles Tillman had two takeaways each through the first six quarters of the season, then the takeaways by the secondary slowed to a relative trickle.
Eli Mannng has the second-worst interception percentage in the NFL (5.9) and has led the giveaway parade with his 13 picks. The Giants’ 20 giveaways are eight more than the second-worst Jets.
The expectations are always high, and perhaps even more so since takeaways haven’t been happening for the likes of Tillman.
“To have a guy like that, that’s probably the best in the league at creating turnovers, you know sooner or later that he’s going to make a big play,” said linebacker James Anderson. “You just keep playing ball, and you know sooner or later he’s going to do something.”
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Thursday night would be a good “sooner” for the Bears.