The Giants have many questions that need answering, but the one head coach Tom Coughlin refuses to even dignify with much of a response is the status of his starting quarterback.
Eli Manning has struggled mightily this season, as Coughlin has acknowledged, noting Manning’s league-high 15 interceptions and two lost fumbles. But for anyone to think the two-time Super Bowl MVP’s standing with the team is up in the air, the coach said it’s a silly notion.
The question about Manning’s starting position was initially brought up during Wednesday’s conference call with the coach. Coughlin brushed it off then, but felt the need to reiterate it again prior to Thursday’s practice in hopes to finally put such talk to rest.
“He’s the guy. We’re going to win again with Eli,” said Coughlin, adding he’s a firm believer they will cut down on the turnovers and get the offense back on track. “We’re going to improve ... and when we do, we’ll start to see the checkered flag at the end of a ball game.”
Coughlin isn’t the only one who believes that Manning will improve. Even their Monday night opponent, the Vikings, think the Giants’ quarterback is due for a big game — but naturally hoping otherwise.
“I just watched the film. I know the team is having some tough times, kind of like we are over here, but ... he’s still a two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Super Bowl MVP and he has the ability to hurt you with his arm,” said Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. “We’ve got to be stout on run defense and hopefully force them into some third-and-long situations, disrupt his timing and show him different looks. He’s been getting hit a lot, so hopefully we can get some pressure on him and force him [into mistakes]. ... When teams turn the ball over it can be like a domino effect. So any time a team is struggling, you do want to put them in situations to remind them of their struggles.”
As skittish as Manning has been this season, the Vikings’ secondary has been generous, too, so Big Blue will certainly look to exploit that matchup. Manning was naturally diplomatic in speaking about a Vikings’ defense that has been a sieve at times, but the facts can’t be hidden about a Minnesota (1-4) defense that has picked off seven passes so far, but also allowed 308 passing yards per game and a staggering 66.7 percent completion rate to opposing quarterbacks.
“I think they have a good scheme and they have good players. They do a good job of getting the pass rush and you have to watch out for Jared Allen. He can disrupt the game and they have [defensive tackle] Kevin Williams and their defensive line is very talented,” Manning said. “We’ve got to make sure we block those guys up and get our guys open in a timely fashion. ... I think you kind of look at their [secondary] scheme and you look at the players and hopefully we’ll have some opportunities to throw the ball and throw it well.”
Hopefully for the Giants, Manning throws the ball well — and only to his teammates — or else the murmurs will soon turn to shouting for at least a brief timeout for their franchise quarterback.
Big Blue notes ...
» Cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee) did not practice on Thursday.
» Center David Baas (neck), cornerbacks Corey Webster (groin) and Jayron Hosley (hamstring), running back Brandon Jacobs (hamstring), tight end Adrien Robinson (foot) and safety Cooper Taylor (shoulder) were all limited to varying degrees.
» Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee), who was on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) since training camp, returned to practice on Thursday. His appearance now starts a three-week window for him to be activated. If he’s still not ready to return to the 53-man active roster, he’ll be placed on season-ending injured reserve (IR).
» Running back Andre Brown (leg) also practiced. But since he was placed on the temporary IR list earlier in the season, he won’t be eligible to play until Week 10.
» Thomas had an interesting take on how desperate the Giants are for a win, even predicting a two-game winning streak for Big Blue before they head into their bye two weeks from now.
“Even if it’s by one point, even if it’s the last second, even if it’s lucky, even if the refs blow the game, we just need a win right now [because] if we lose the next game we could be making plans for December in October,” Thomas said. “That’s not a good feeling. … We’re gonna win this next game and get this thing rolling into the bye week and see what happens.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.