Giants quarterback Eli Manning deserved more than his share of the blame for Sunday’s tough 16-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, as his five interceptions can attest.
And while the pitchforks and flames are out, as the masses try and make the two-time Super Bowl MVP the primary scapegoat, head coach Tom Coughlin said don’t be so quick to judge his signal-caller.
Coughlin noted that Manning’s five interceptions obviously weren’t conducive to winning, but there were hidden factors within each bad play that told a bigger story.
“I think you need balance, especially in a one-score game [because] my preference is not to be throwing the ball that much,” said Coughlin, adding the offensive line was porous. “Obviously we have a ways to go [in running the ball better and pas protecting].”
The head coach essentially exonerated Manning, noting the ill-fated fade patterns from inside the 49ers’ four-yard line with just over three minutes remaining “should’ve been caught … you need to come down with the ball.”
Coughlin also noted there was cumulative pressure on most of Manning’s picks, which exposed a larger issue at hand.
“I’d like to tell you that you should stay there and pound away with the running game, but at 3rd-and-8 [and] 3rd-and-7 all game, it just doesn’t help sticking with the run when you can’t even get 4th-and-inches,” Coughlin reasoned.
The biggest sequence of the game came when the Giants had 1st-and-goal at the four-yard line. Coughlin acknowledged that offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo gave Manning run-pass audible sets, but it was at the quarterback’s discretion to check out of a play if he deemed fit.
Coughlin admitted that Manning changed the first-down play from a run to a pass on 1st-and-goal, but with the run-blocking as bad as it was, it’s hard to blame Manning’s decision, alluded the coach.
According to Pro Football Focus, an extensive statistical website that tracks every play of every player for every team, the right side of the Giants’ offensive line (guard John Jerry and tackle Charles Brown) was responsible for 18 total pressures. Manning was only sacked twice, but with 16 more plays of having pressure in his face, he basically had no chance to make plays.
Help could be on the way, however, as the Giants activated guard Geoff Schwartz off the injured-reserve/designated for return list. Schwartz had been on the list since Sept. 3 due to a dislocated right big toe that he suffered in a preseason game on Aug. 22.
Monday was the deadline for the Giants to activate Schwartz or keep him on injured reserve (IR). The veteran is itching to get back on the field to help his struggling unit.
“I am ready to go. I had a couple good weeks of practice [and] last week was real good,” said Schwartz, who was reluctant to sound as if his mere return would save the offensive line. “I took every rep for the scout team, last week. I felt good out there. I’m just happy to be back and will play wherever he [Coughlin] wants me … I expect I’ll be ready to go.”
Big Blue notes:
The Giants lost their fifth-consecutive game to fall to 3-7. It is their worst record after 10 games since 1998, when they were also 3-7 and finished 8-8.
Big Blue has lost five in a row one year after starting 0-6. This is the first time they’ve had losing streaks of at least five games in consecutive seasons since 2003-04, when they lost eight in a row each year.
Right tackle Justin Pugh (quad) says he feels better, and when asked if he thinks he’ll be able to play Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, he said “That’s my plan.” He was also happy to hear that Schwartz plans on playing as well: “Having another great player out there is a huge for us. It brings competition [and] competition makes everyone better, and keeps everyone motivated. To have one of those guys you brought in to be a leader and a starter, it is good to get those guys back.”
The Giants created room on the roster for Schwartz by waiving linebacker Justin Anderson, who was signed off the practice squad on Saturday and played on special teams in the Giants’ loss.
Coughlin would not say where Schwartz will fit into the offensive line upon his return, as the former Kansas City Chief normally plays left guard.
Manning was a stand-up guy when asked about the interceptions and whether any were attributed to his receivers: “None of them were mistakes in that aspect. All of them were on me, just a poor decision and trying to make the throw, or an inaccurate throw. … It wasn’t a receiver doing something wrong, or miscommunication. It was just some poor throws on some of them.”
Coughlin deemed that Brown’s performance was “not very well … the problem was he had trouble with the twists.”
Regarding any veto power on McAdoo’s play-calling during the 49ers’ final goaline-stand, Coughlin said he always has that power: “I can do anything I want at any time … And I do.”
Coughlin on the failed 4th-and-inches attempt and whether he gave any thought of calling a quarterback sneak for Manning: “I didn’t do it with Doug Flutie [at Boston College] … I don’t like them sticking their necks in there.”
The Giants are on the verge of being just the second team in history to win the Super Bowl and then miss playoffs the next three seasons.
Fullback Henry Hynoski on the reality that the Giants almost certainly won’t make the playoffs: “We won’t accept that. We’re still fighting for playoffs.”
Coughlin agreed with Hynoski: “We are all disappointed, but still the message is ‘Don’t get discouraged.’”