The Bears are searching for answers in a season that began with such promise coming off an NFC North championship.
With five losses in six games and their postseason hopes all but extinguished, the Bears (4-6) will try to start salvaging something when they host the struggling Giants (2-8) on Sunday.
Chicago has fallen out of contention after winning the NFC North at 12-4. They were banking on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky
to make another jump coming off a Pro Bowl selection and an offense that showed some creativity to click in a major way in head coach Matt Nagy's second year.
Neither has happened. And last week's 17-7 loss to the Rams in Los Angeles was particularly bad.
Not only did an offense that ranks among the league's worst
stall again, Trubisky sat out the final drive because of a right hip pointer. And the Bears wasted another solid effort by a defense that still is one of the NFL's best, even if it's banged up and more vulnerable.
"It hasn't gone the way we wanted it to go," receiver Allen Robinson
said. "I think that's most of the frustration. We know that we have good players. We know the kind of ability that everybody has. It's pretty much the same players that we had last year. Seeing some of the success that we've had - even this season - it's tough to not be consistent."
Although he's been fully cleared and will start this game as usual, the hip problem was just the latest blow in a rough season for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft. He missed the loss to Oakland in London last month because of a left shoulder injury that knocked him out of the win over Minnesota the previous week.
The third-year pro ranks last in the NFL in passing yards per game (175.6), last in yards per attempt (5.6) and tied for 26th in pass TDs (9), among 33 qualified QBs. Since Week 8, Chicago is averaging 14.3 points per game, 30th in the NFL during that span.
And after throwing 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions a year ago, he has nine and four in nine games.
Perhaps Sunday against a Big Blue defense that has been scorched this season, Trubisky can get on track.
According to ESPN's Mike Clay, based on where Allen Robinson
has aligned and how Giants corners have been deployed this season, coverage against Chicago's top receiver will be roughly as follows this week: Corey Ballentine (40 percent), DeAndre Baker (35 percent) and Janoris Jenkins (25 percent).
After a slow start, Jenkins has been better while staying put at left corner. The rookie Baker continues to struggle badly, with the Giants allowing the most fantasy points to his side of the field this season and over the past month. Ballentine has also struggled, with the Giants allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to the slot over the past month.
Robinson's quiet Week 11 was expected against Jalen Ramsey, but he's a good bet to get back on track this week against a New York defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Clay believes Anthony Miller
and Taylor Gabriel
can also be upgraded, but he stressed they remain risky fantasy options.
Gabriel matched a career high with 14 targets against the Rams on Sunday, but he failed to cash in on it (catching just half those targets for 57 yards).
That said, Gabriel has now produced at least 9.3 fantasy points in four consecutive games as he's been on the field for 82 percent of the Bears' pass plays and is handling 5.8 targets per game (the latter is down slightly from 6.0 last season).
The bigger problem for Gabriel and Miller is Chicago's struggling offense limits their upside.