» The loss of Terrell Thomas significantly weakens the Giants defense. Thomas was unquestionably the team's top cornerback and the team lacks the depth to suitably replace him. At 6-foot-1, 191 pounds, Thomas possesses the size and length to smother receivers in press coverage, yet he also displayed the vision, instincts and awareness to make plays in zone. Thomas has recorded 10 interceptions over the past two seasons, while also adding five forced fumbles during that span. Without their No. 1 corner in the lineup, the Giants will likely turn to Aaron Ross to the start opposite Corey Webster.
Ross, a fifth-year pro with 26 career starts, has been considered a disappointment for most of his career. He does have six career interceptions, but also has been prone to blown assignments in critical situations. Ross also shows suspect skills as run defender; his lack of aggression weakens the Giants' defense on the perimeter. As a nickel corner, his deficiencies could be hidden. But with the looming promotion to the starting lineup, Ross becomes a primary target and the Giants' defense will suffer as a result.
The loss of Thomas also affects the Giants' sub-packages. Ross' promotion forces the team to put young defenders like Michael Coe and Joe Burnett on the field or rely on veterans Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle to shift their responsibilities. With so many moving parts in the back end, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell might have to scale back his aggressiveness and rely extensively on the Giants' talented front line to provide pressure on the quarterback.
» Jay Cutler looks more comfortable in Mike Martz's system. Cutler was efficient and effective directing the Bears' offense against the Giants. He quickly worked through his progressions to deliver balls to open receivers in rhythm. Cutler didn't hesitate to release the ball before his intended receivers were out of their breaks, which prevented Giants' defenders from closing quickly on the throw. This was a stark contrast from a season ago, when Cutler would wait until his receivers were coming open before letting the ball go. In Martz's system, the precise timing between thrower and catcher is critical; big gains frequently result when the execution is flawless.
Cutler, who finished 12 for 21 for 171 yards, showcased the effectiveness of the approach when he connected with Devin Hester on a 37-yard strike down the sideline on a "go route" between defenders in two-deep coverage. He followed that up with a 32-yard completion to Earl Bennett on a post-corner against a similar two-deep look. Both plays resulted in huge gains and were a direct result of the timing between Cutler and his receivers.
» Marion Barber still has some juice. Even though he was a salary cap casualty in Dallas due to declining production, Barber still appears to have something left in the tank. The seventh-year pro tallied 80 yards from scrimmage against the Giants, while showcasing a rugged all-around game that makes him a perfect complement to primary tailback Matt Forte. Barber still possesses a combination of strength, power and toughness that allows him to grind out tough yards between the tackles. While he lacks the burst to take it the distance, his ability to chew up yardage five yards at a time will add a new element to the Bears' rush attack. Barber also has excellent skills as a receiver and is a solid blocker in pass protection. Given his versatile skill set and effectiveness throughout the preseason, Barber could make Chester Taylor expendable in Chicago.
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