1 Fix Eli Manning — Manning struggled with six interceptions in a three-game stretch against New Orleans, Arizona and Philadelphia. He played well in the last game against San Diego, but that performance could prove to be an outlier. The Giants’ quarterback says his inconsistency has nothing to do with the heel or his mechanics, but coach Tom Coughlin hinted as much following that 40-17 shellacking by the Eagles. If the Giants get 5-0 Eli again, they have a shot to make a run at the playoffs.
2 Improve short-yardage situations — Coughlin called the second- and third-and-shorts his “top priority” during the bye week. The Giants are actually above the league average in third-down conversions at 43 percent, but it’s the timing of the failures that troubles Coughlin. They need to sustain drives down the stretch and close out games with a power running attack.
3 Regroup on the O-line — This used to be the best unit on the team and most cohesive in the league. It used to be the “good-ol’ G-Men line.” Now, they just look old. Giants’ quarterbacks have been dumped 15 times this season, including five against San Diego. They have to keep Manning clean and open up bigger holes for Brandon Jacobs.
4 Find a dependable red-zone target — Steve Smith, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks have exceeded expectations, combining for 1,617 yards on 118 receptions and 13 touchdowns, but none of those speedy receivers are your typical jump-ball type wideouts. The 6-foot-6 Kevin Boss isn’t an option because the bulky tight end lacks the speed and separation. There is a guy who fits that criteria in rookie Ramses Barden. The 6-foot-6 wideout, though, hasn’t quite grasped the playbook and doesn’t have the best work ethic.
5 Get healthy — Three defensive starters have lost significant time (Chris Canty, Michael Boley and Aaron Ross) and Kenny Phillips was lost for the year. No matter how deeply they were constructed, that hurts any team.
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