For Bears, Beating Giants Means Managing Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham

November 29, 2018 - 2:50 pm

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- What is the key to slowing down imposing Giants receiver Odell Beckham? 

"Going to mass on Saturday night," said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

But containing Beckham -- who has 74 receptions for 1,017 yards and five touchdowns -- is only half the battle in facing a Giants team much more dangerous than its 3-8 record. New York boasts two of the NFL's elite playmakers in Beckham and rookie running back Saquon Barkley, two names that command respect on their team's behalf.

For the Bears (8-3), a victory on the road at MetLife Stadium would mean they managed well in holding Beckham and Barkley in check. But the big-play ability they each present is a threat to the Bears, who could be without key players on each side of the football in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (right shoulder) and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (Achilles). 

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The Giants rank 23rd in the league for scoring average at 21.5 points per game and have posted 351.3 yards a contest. Collectively, they have not been great. But the threat of a player like Barkley must be respected.

Barkley has averaged 4.8 yards per carry and rushed for eight touchdowns, and is just as dangerous as a pass-catching threat with 71 receptions for 581 yards and four scores. In a meeting this week, Fangio compared Barkley's agility and explosiveness to Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.

"It's going to take all 11 people to stop him," Fangio said of Barkley. "This guy will take any handoff that's designed to go anywhere and the ball could end up anywhere. It's going to take all 11. This guy's a really good back. He's as good as advertised. He's got speed, power, elusiveness, so he's everything that he was made out to be."

Said linebacker Danny Trevathan: "He's a different kind of player."

Naturally, Barkley has worked primarily out of the backfield, but Giants coach Pat Shurmur has often lined him up wide as a receiver. Trevathan will be among Bears players who must first account for Barkley's presence before each play knowing well the Giants will be seeking a matchup to exploit.

Then there's Beckham, who will have the Bears' talented secondary on notice the entire afternoon. So long as quarterback Eli Manning can deliver the football his way, Beckham can make a play.

"The guy is a tremendous athlete and has great ball skills, as everybody knows," Fangio said. "He's really good."

The Giants started their season with disaster at 1-7 and their offense struggled to gain an identity under the new coach Shurmur. But they have since made strides, with Barkley and Beckham the center of their plans.

The Bears know they must respect the danger these Giants present on offense.

"We have to play our ball and get out there," Trevathan said. "We can't let them get out in front or even have room to breathe. This team is capable of coming out here and performing great. We know that we just got to handle our job and what we've been doing all year. We know that it will be no problem as long as we take care of our jobs, everybody's going to eat."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​