Giants quarterback Eli Manning is well aware that all eyes will be on him Sunday night, when he hosts the Cowboys in a primetime matchup.
It doesn’t matter that the offensive line has arguably been a bigger culprit during the team’s five-game losing streak, or that the running game has been in shambles for over a month, or the receiving corps is pedestrian – save for rookie standout Odell Beckham Jr.
The veteran signal-caller is keen on the fact that glory – and criticism – will always begin and end with the face of the franchise, which is usually the quarterback.
The fact that prior to Manning’s meltdown last week when he was picked off five times in a loss to the 49ers, he was only intercepted six times in the prior nine contests.
But with the Cowboys (7-3) playing much better defense than anyone could’ve anticipated entering the season, yielding just 239.8 passing yards per game, Manning knows he must be more judicious with the ball.
“They’re a good team,” Manning said, adding he sees very much the same defense that he played pretty well against in a close 31-21 loss in Week 7. “Their defense is physical and plays fast and has not given up many points. We’ve got to do a good job offensively playing smart. We’ve got to eliminate the turnovers [because] we feel we can move the ball and score some points on them. They have not changed a whole lot. I’m sure they’ll have a few new wrinkles every week like every team does [but] they’re playing good with their scheme and guys are playing fast and they’re doing a good job.”
Manning acknowledged that he can’t give that Dallas offense any short fields, due to Giants’ turnovers, but added he hasn’t stressed this week’s preparation as any more important because of what happened against the 49ers.
The unflappable Manning simply said he’s gotten back to work and has worked just as diligently in practice as he’d have done had they beaten San Francisco.
“It [preparation] is the same whether you win or lose or play a good game or bad game. It shouldn’t affect your preparation the next week,” Manning said. “You might work on something specific, or just work on making great decisions, or getting the ball out on time, but from a preparation standpoint, I think each week you always feel you have something to improve, something to get better – whether it’s that throw you missed or something that you made a mistake on the week before.”
Running back Rashad Jennings is certain that Manning and the offense will bounce back and look like it did during its brief three-game winning streak earlier in the season. Jennings noted that any offense takes the form and attitude of its quarterback, and when it comes to Manning, he’s as unflustered as they come.
Jennings is confident the offense will follow suit.
“I’ve got a 48-hour rule, win or lose. You learn from the game [and] move forward, win, lose, draw. It is always something that you can get better on from watching the tape, and as professionals, that is what we are going to do, as far as rallying up,” said Jennings. “We know as an offensive unit, we let the team down. We’ll be fine. He’ll [Manning] be fine. It’s been a big healthy dose of owning up to last week, all week for the offense.”
If history serves correct, Manning has made it a habit of owning up to past mistakes and improving the following week. The Giants’ record in those 18 follow-up games is 12-6.
Last week was the 19thtime in his career that Manning threw at least three interceptions in a game.And since he entered the NFL in 2004, no other quarterback has more than 13 such games.
But Manning and the Giants usually respond well after his big-interception games, as the follow-up contests after his first 18 three-pick games, Manning threw no interceptions eight times, one interception six times and two picks twice. Only twice did he follow a three-interception game with another — with one being a four-pick game.
Manning noted he’s as confident as he’s been all season, and is ready to continue that trend of excelling after a clunker.
“I felt I’ve been throwing the ball well all week, been throwing the ball accurately and have a good feel for this week’s gameplan,” said Manning. “Hopefully we go out there and make the plays that are there. … I’ve got to make good decisions. That’s just football. I’ve got to do my job, I’ve got to play at a high level and help the team get a win.”
Big Blue is certainly hoping Manning continues that trend of reversing previous bad games.
Big Blue notes
- Manning’s future in a Giants’ jersey has been a hot-topic discussion since the 49ers’ game. But the Big Blue lifer said he definitely wants to play his entire career with the Giants, however long that lasts. But Manning did note that brother Peyton once looked to be an Indianapolis Colt for life, and he is now in his third season with the Denver Broncos: “I never thought Peyton would play for another franchise [and] I don’t think he did, either. You see other guys. I’m just going to try to do my job and do it well enough where the franchise wants to keep me here.”
- Manning, who led the Giants to victories in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, was asked if he’s done enough to convince the franchise that he should stay here until his career ends: “Obviously, last season [when he threw a career-high 27 interceptions] was not good. But this season, I thought I’ve been playing better. This last week wasn’t good, but hopefully we can get a hot streak and I can play well. I’m just going to take it one game at a time and worry about doing my job and let everything else kind of do its job … This is the only franchise I’ve been a part of and I think it’s the best one. I don’t want anything else but to be here, play here, and win another championship here.”