Eli Manning struggles along with Giants in historically bad start
The Giants are one of the league’s most historic teams, but this could be a year they make history for all the wrong reasons.
Following Sunday’s 36-21 agonizing defeat to the Eagles, the Giants have done something no other Big Blue squad has done in a non-strike season since 1979 – start winless after five games.
The Giants are so bad that not even one of the best coach-quarterback tandems in recent memory can stave off the plethora of miscues that have cost the team wins. Of course, when the tandem is also a major reason why the teams can’t get out of its way, it shows the plight of the franchise.
Eli Manning cost the Giants 45 yards worth of penalties with three intentional grounding calls, including one flag that eventually pushed the Giants out of field-goal range. So far this season, the two-time Super Bowl MVP has looked like a player who shouldn’t even be in the league. But it doesn’t help that the Giants offensive line has been atrocious this season.
“I honestly believe that he’s trying so hard that he’s almost putting too much on himself. He keeps it all pretty much inside — and I’m not making excuses — but the [intentional grounding] penalties looked so bad. He’s way too good a player to have these types of things happen,” said head coach Tom Coughlin. “At one point we were down in [field-goal] range and the penalties happened and knocked us out of field-goal range. … We can do things to prevent that, like holding onto the ball and just going down. I felt that the first [two drives of the second half] were good. But then we started giving away the ball.”
Manning hinted the “circumstances” around him are contributing to his horrid start. The fact that the Giants could only muster 53 yards on 17 carries, while losing starting running back David Wilson to a neck injury in the process, showed just how much is heaped on the quarterback’s plate.
“We’re throwing the ball a lot because we’re low on running backs,” Manning said. “It’s tough. You just have to play to the circumstances of the game. Sometimes you’re scrambling around and making plays and sometimes you don’t. It’s hard to sometimes turn off that competitive edge and play smart. Some of the mistakes are becoming magnified … just need to play smarter.”
Manning isn’t the only one who needs to play smarter, as the Giants accrued 12 penalties for a whopping 136 yards. Conversely, the Eagles had eight for 88 yards. This has been a running theme for the Giants all season, as either penalties or turnovers — and sometimes both — have ruined promising drives and key third-down opportunities.
Coughlin said he’s as “frustrated” as he’s ever been during his 10-year tenure, and the players must be as well, but still believes the locker room will remain intact.
“Very demoralizing, but we’ve created this situation for ourselves. Offensively, I thought we stopped ourselves. It’s unbelievable. I don’t even know the answers,” Coughlin said. “We’re all very frustrated, very down. They put so much into this during the week with good practices and meetings. They’re doing the best they can and supporting each other — and that’s the way it has to be to get through this. We just have to line up and do it again on a very short week. … It’s no fun, but I’m not concerned about me. I’m concerned about the players in the locker room. I lose the games, but they win them. It’s very frustrating when you didn’t expect to be in this situation, but here we are.”
Manning said he knows going forward the onus will likely be on him to rally the team, especially considering the plight of their running game and the lack of protection he’s receiving up front.
“I’m just trying to make plays and trying to win, but I have to be smart. I can’t be giving up the ball. I know we can play better. I know I can play better and make good decisions,” said Manning. “You don’t get a lot of second chances in this league, so you have to capitalize on them when they come by. You can have a great scheme, but it’s about execution. … The only people who can change this are the players and coaches here in this locker room.”
Big Blue notes …
» Eagles quarterback Michael Vick aggravated his left hamstring on a long scramble to the Giants’ 18-yard line. He finished the drive and started the following one before bowing out for good to start the second half. It didn’t matter as his understudy, Nick Foles, came in and played remarkably well (16-of-25, 197 yards and two touchdowns).
» Giants safety Will Hill made his presence immediately known in his first appearance of the season following a four-game suspension for marijuana use. The athletic safety was all over the field as he notched 11 tackles — all solos. Hill was the only Big Blue defender who had the athleticism to keep up with shifty Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, as he was held in check (46 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown and 46 yards on six receptions).
» Rueben Randle had his best game of the season as he recorded six receptions for 96 yards and two scores. His touchdown receptions came on back-to-back possessions as he gave the Giants a 21-19 lead at the 3:46 mark of the third quarter. The first score was a 26-yard touchdown and the second was a 6-yarder.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.