New York Giants: Three Players To Keep An Eye On Against The Bears

New York Giants, Julian Love

The New York Giants will be hosting the Chicago Bears in their second preseason game tonight. The Giants are coming off of a preseason week one 31-22 win against the Jets. Daniel Jones stole the show last night with an impressive debut. But he was not the only player to turn in a solid performance last Thursday.

Corey Ballentine, T.J. Jones, and Jake Carlock were other standouts from week one. These players surprised many spectators with various impact plays. Here some more players to keep an eye on in Friday’s contest against Chicago:

Russell Shepard

The Giants have had a rocky offseason at the wide receiver position. Obviously, they traded away their best receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., in a shocking and controversial fashion. They then went and signed a 31-year old veteran receiver to replace him, Golden Tate. The injuries struck.

To open training camp, Corey Coleman went down with a season-ending injury while Sterling Shepard is still dealing with a thumb fracture. To top it all off, Golden Tate has been suspended for the first four weeks of the season.

Fortunately, the Giants have a lot of depth at this position. Lesser-known receivers like T.J. Jones and Alonzo Russell have been turning heads. But one player to keep an eye on against the Bears is wide receiver, Russell Shepard.

Shepard had the offense’s play of the game against the Jets last week. At the beginning of the second quarter, Shepard beat his man on a slant route from the slot and caught a rifled pass by Alex Tanney, then broke free and ran away for a 52-yard touchdown:

Russell Shepard was on the Giants’ roster last season but was a backup who was rarely given the opportunity to make an impact. This explosive play against the Jets could lead to more targets for Russell Shepard against the Bears. A few more big plays like this and Shepard could see himself getting some serious playing time in the regular season, especially during the first four weeks with Golden Tate suspended.

Wayne Gallman

The New York Giants have the best running back in the NFL in Saquon Barkley. Barkley lead the league in scrimmage yards with 2,028 as a rookie last season and is primed to have an even better year in 2019. He is obviously locked in as the starter and should see no playing time this preseason.

But behind Saquon Barkley there is a positional battle forming for the second-string running back job. Currently, it is a three-way race between Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Rod Smith. None of the three looked very good against the Jets but Gallman had the job last year so it is his to lose.

Wayne Gallman received five carries against the Jets and mustered out only 13 rushing yards for an average of 2.6 yards per carry. Not a strong outing but luckily for Gallman, Perkins, and Smith had equally bad or worse nights.

Wayne Gallman needs to separate himself from the pack and secure the second-team running back position. Tonight against a tough defense like the Bears’, Gallman could win the job with a strong outing. Look to see if Wayne can improve his yards per carry and maybe even score a touchdown to secure his position.

Julian Love

Julian Love had an inconsistent game against the Jets last week. He got off to a very poor start but did rebound later in the game with some solid plays. It will be vital for Julian to work out some of those mistakes in tonight’s game.

Against the Jets, Love was beaten in coverage a couple of times early on and made a poor decision on a goal-line pick play to allow the Jets to score a touchdown. Love seemed to settle down towards the end of the first half, though, making an excellent pass breakup with under a minute to go in the second quarter:

The Giants moved Julian Love around the defense a bit last Thursday. He started the game at corner but later moved over to free safety. This adds to the rookie’s professional learning curve since he needs to learn how to play two positions instead of one.

The Giants might need to commit Julian Love to play one position until he gets acclimated, but if they choose not to, Julian Love will continue to demonstrate a high level of versatility for the Giants’ defense.

New York Giants: Chicago’s Defense Will Be A Real Test For Daniel Jones

The New York Giants played their first preseason game last Thursday against the New York Jets. The Giants won the battle of New Jersey 31-22. The game featured solid performances from three Giants quarterbacks, including sixth overall pick Daniel Jones.

Jones had a strong outing versus the Jets despite playing only one drive. The rookie completed all five of his passes for 67 yards and 1 touchdown. Despite this, Daniel Jones still received a lot of criticism from obnoxious media personalities.

Daniel Jones made his first step towards proving doubters wrong in his first preseason game. Jones will get his second opportunity Friday night versus the Chicago Bears. But this game will be even more important for the Giants’ heir apparent.

The Chicago Bears Defense

The Chicago Bears have always been known for their stout, legendary defenses. Their defense in 2018 was the best in the league and they kept most of their talent together this offseason. The Bears’ defense features numerous playmakers that will make it tough on the Giants’ quarterbacks.

It is highly unlikely that Daniel Jones will face the Bears’ full first-team defense. Eli Manning is the team’s starting quarterback and Daniel Jones will come in with the second-string. Manning will have to briefly line up across from the tenacious Khalil Mack and try to thread passes between the likes of Eddie Jackson and Kendall Fuller.

Daniel Jones will not have to face all of that. But he will have to face some of it. The Bears defense did allow only 17.7 points per game in 2018 (best in the NFL), so they must have some serious depth behind their starters. Second-team players like Aaron Lynch and Buster Skrine would certainly be able to find starting jobs with other teams.

The Bears did force 27 total interceptions in 2018. Daniel Jones played a clean game and did not turn the ball over against the Jets. It will be interesting to see if he can keep the ball away from Chicago’s defense.

Daniel Jones Facing Defensive Talent

That was one criticism of Daniel Jones after the Jets game. Arrogant sports talk-show hosts pointed out that Jones did not play against a starter-level defense, so therefore those passes he threw cannot be judged (imagine thinking this way).

Daniel Jones did not exactly play with or against elite talent in college at Duke. The ACC does not produce NFL talent like the SEC or the Big Ten. But Jones is an NFL quarterback now and he will have to face NFL talent. His next test will come Friday night against the Chicago Bears.

Daniel Jones needs to ball out against the Bears just like he did against the Jets to keep the media quiet. Or, actually get the media to praise him for once. The Bears’ defense is no joke. It is time for Daniel Jones to prove that he is not a joke either.