EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Bears literally didn’t see what hit them in their 20-12 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
From the Chicago eight-yard line, quarterback Daniel Jones lined up under center and running back Saquon Barkley lined up directly behind him. Jones took the snap and turned to hand the ball off to Barkley. The defense flowed with the running back, ready to force a potential third down late in the second quarter.
What defensive coordinator Alan Williams’ unit didn’t know was that Barkley never had the ball. Jones carried out his handoff and turned left. In front of Jones was nothing but open grass. The Giants’ quarterback made it into the end zone easily for his second rushing touchdown of the day.
“Obviously in the first half we needed to do a better job of stopping the run, the quarterback,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. ”I thought we did a good job of adjusting to that in the second half. Saquon ended up popping some runs on us, and they ran the ball too effectively for us to win the game today.”
The Giants finished the game with 262 total rushing yards. Barkley had 31 carries for 146 yards and Jones added another 68 yards on his six attempts.
Giving up a touchdown is one thing, but that 8-yard run in the second quarter was Jones’ second rushing score on the day. The first one came on the Giants’ second drive of the game. After the Giants started on their 25 and moved the ball effortlessly down field in five plays, the Giants had first-and-10 from Chicago’s 21.
Jones lined up under center and showed the ball to his left, then immediately to the right in Barkley’s running direction. Jones turned and saw open space to his left. Kyler Gordon was the nearest defender, but the rookie cornerback couldn’t get off his block and Jones scored from 21 yards out.
“It’s just one of those things where you really got to understand your run fit and how you want to fit it up,” linebacker Nicholas Morrow said. “There is different ways to do it obviously, but you gotta be sound and know when it’s coming. It’s difficult because you don’t know when it’s coming, right? That’s the hard part.”
It also becomes difficult to stop a dual-threat quarterback if your eyes aren’t where they’re supposed to be.
“Eye discipline is a big part of it, honestly it’s the main thing,” defensive end Dominique Robinson said. “You just got to make sure your eyes are at the right place.”
The Bears’ defense has had a tough time through the first four weeks stopping opposing team’s play-action and boot game.
So, what is the solution?
“It’s just execution,” Eberflus said. “It really is. It’s just execution. When you’re dealing with out-of-the-pocket, moving passes, it’s just execution.”
That’s it. Execution. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The next opportunity to show some proper execution will be against the Vikings in Minnesota. A good start would be for the defensive players to get their eyes in the right spot.