The Giants played above the Xs and Os for the second-straight week, but ashas usually been the case, it still wasn’t good enough.
Following Sunday’s tough 16-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Giants(3-7) have now lost five-straight games and are getting closer and closer tounofficially getting ready for next Spring’s NFL Draft, because as head coach Tom Coughlin said it best, the Giants have had “defensive fiascos, so now we’ve had an offensive fiasco.”
While they hung tight against the better team, Sunday’s loss to the 49ers(6-4) showed one simple fact – Big Blue just isn’t good enough to competewith the upper-echelon of the league, as this loss was their seventh defeatin as many tries against teams over .500.
Conversely, all three of Big Blue’s wins came against teams with losingmarks.
Coughlin noted that as tough as his team played, and how close the marginof defeat was, it’s still not good enough.
“I liked our effort. I thought we were prepared this week. We put ourselvesin position to win,” said Coughlin. “But it becomes frustration [because]it wasn’t enough. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, though. And no oneperson feels worse than the other … but we can’t turn the ball five timeseither.”
Those turnovers can be directly attributed to quarterback Eli Manning,who threw five picks. Manning went 22-of-45 for 280 yards and was sackedtwice, although he was harried and knocked down numerous other times.
But when the team needed him to be clutch and shoulder the load due toa running game that was non-existent, he came up short more times thannot.
“It’s obvious he had accuracy issues, but there was also a lot of pressurearound him,” said Coughlin of his quarterback. “The one that really hurt isthe interception behind [wideout Preston] Parker. He tried to look off thesafety and when he came back to him [Preston] it was too late, [and] therewas just pressure and he had to deliver the ball and he threw it behindhim. But, hey, they [Niners] played pretty darn good. The guy in the middle[rookie linebacker Chris Borland] played great. We just didn’t move the ballmuch.”
The microcosm of Manning and Co.’s struggles came following aspectacular, juggling 37-yard catch by rookie standout Odell Beckham.
The reception put them at the 49ers’ four-yard line late in the game, butManning threw three-straight incompletions – which was capped by hisfifth interception, and Borland’s second of the game.
Simply put, the Giants just don’t have the necessary firepower on offense –save for Beckham’s emergence – and the running game has been an issuefor weeks, even with running back Rashad Jennings back in their lineup.
It was evident during the goaline stand that Big Blue just doesn’t trusttheir rushing attack to pick up the key yardage – likely because of theirinjury-riddled offensive line. And the lack the playmakers on the outside tocomplement Beckham is glaring as well.
And an even larger issue is when Manning reverts to old bad habits, itmakes the deficiencies that much clearer.
“I thought we made the necessary stops and special teams was goodenough. We just had nothing to show for it,” Coughlin said, rehashing thefailed goaline opportunity. “They [Niners] were sixth in the league in [redzone] defense. We tried to hit guys. Four shots within the four-yard line isinexcusable we didn’t score, but in hindsight, maybe should’ve run the ball.
But on this day it’s frustrating because we should’ve been standing here[winners] 17-16, but instead we’re dealing with another loss … Here weare, four shots [into the end zone]. We needed a score. That’s on me. Mybiggest problem was that we didn’t score. It’s easy now [to second guess],but the idea was to score right now.”
Making matters worse for Manning’s ineffective play was the fact that the49ers were undermanned on defense. They were already playing withoutAll-Pro linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman, but San Franciscohad a patchwork secondary that befuddled the veteran Manning – despitemissing cornerbacks Tramaine Brock (hamstring) and Jimmie Ward (foot),who was placed on a season-ending injured reserve.
Manning realized the lost opportunity in facing a banged-up defense, but asusual, he’s still optimistic they can turn around the season.
“I gotta be better. I gotta be better protecting the ball, making thedecisions, and throwing the ball more accurately. It’s all on me, no oneelse’s fault. When you’re down on the three-yard line, you have to makethe plays. I’m disappointed in myself,” said Manning, still thinking glasshalf-full. “We were still in it, but there were the turnovers, obviously. Wejust didn’t make the plays that we needed to, [but] I still felt we had someopportunities to make some plays.”
All that optimism might be lip-service, because judging by Sunday’s effort,it’s evident that the Giants are marginally good enough to hang with thebetter teams, but they just don’t have enough talent and lack the ability toexecute in the clutch to put them over the edge.