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Grade this QB incomplete


Giants can't afford Eli to keep dropping back



Eli Manning stumbles again on night Big Blue needs QB prodigy to take Giant step, throwing two INTs.


JACKSONVILLE -It was not the kind of disjointed performance you would expect from a team that was losing its grip on the NFC East lead and was a mere two weeks ago thought of in the same class as the Bears. That looked like foolish talk last night as the Jaguars hung a 26-10 whipping on the Giants, ruining Tom Coughlin's homecoming.

After the game, Coughlin could be heard through the closed locker room doors, blistering his team for its lackluster performance. Manning and the Giants offense were pathetic and reached a depth that was unimaginable a few weeks ago.


Manning has slipped to the point where his frustration and that of the players around him could start to erode the team's confidence in him. In the last six games, Manning has thrown seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. Last night, he made some horrendous decisions that resulted in negative plays and when he did get the ball to receivers they dropped them. Coughlin was asked if he was concerned with Manning's play of late.


"I'm concerned that we're not making plays that allow us to be productive," Coughlin said. "We don't do a lot to help him and get him started. There are a lot of drops. He's frustrated. He's looking to make something happen. He's looking for someone to help him make something happen."


The Giants have reached the critical part of their season where they need Manning to grow up and be the consistent performer the Giants can count on. He is running out of time. There are only six games left before the season goes Poof!


"I don't know if they're getting frustrated with my performance or not," he said. "We have to find a way to get better production."


The Giants need Manning to go out, seize control of the game from start to finish. We know he is capable of a late rally. Let's see him consistently put together four quarters of winning football. Let's see him be the man.


The great quarterbacks have to do that. Manning did not do it last night. He had one of his worst performances as a Giant on a night when they needed him to have one of his best.


Manning is capable of carrying a team on his back and winning a game, not merely managing it. He is hard-wired to do it. His father, Archie, did it. His brother, Peyton, does it for the Colts, although he could not do it against Dallas on Sunday.


The Jags did everything they could to help Manning be the man last night. In the third quarter, running back Fred Taylor was stripped on his way to paydirt, the Giants recovering in the end zone. Later in the quarter, Manning was sacked, stripped and had a fumble returned for an 18-yard TD. But the play was negated when Jags cornerback Rashean Mathis was called for illegal hands to the face. Manning made good use of the reprieve by later hitting Burress on a 25-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-10 Jags.


"As bad as we played in the first half we still had opportunities to win the game," Manning said. "It's just a combination of things. We're just not playing good football. We're not consistent."


I don't want to hear that Manning someday will be the kind of quarterback who can put a team on his shoulders and carry it to victory. The Giants need him now. Philip Rivers, the guy who went to San Diego in Manning's place, is young. But he has the Chargers in the driver's seat in the AFC West. And for better or worse, Manning always will be linked with Rivers because of his decision not to play for the Chargers.


Here is why he can be the man right now: He has the talent and a terrific supporting cast. Unlike the Jets, the Giants coaches don't have to limit what they can do at the position. Manning can make all the throws a big-time quarterback can - short, deep, wide to the sidelines. He doesn't have great accuracy, but he can get it there in a hurry. There is no need for smoke and mirrors.


But soon there could be plenty of smoke with the Giants. The smoke that is associated with a season going down in flames. Someone needs to pull them up before they crash and burn. I say Manning is the man to do it. He needs to get cracking right away, while there still is something left to save.


Originally published on November 21, 2006

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Eli and Giants on losing Jag


Tumble into tie as passing fails





JACKSONVILLE - When the Giants seemed like they were losing another defensive player every week, they believed their high-powered offense would save them.

But now it's Giants' high-powered offense that looks like it needs to be saved.


Thanks to an offensive performance that Tiki Barber described as "pretty pitiful," the sliding Giants lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 26-10, at Alltel Stadium last night. They gained just 247 yards against a stingy Jaguars defense, including only 25 on the ground.


And as a result, the Giants (6-4) are now locked in a tie with the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East, having coughed up their two-game lead in just two weeks.


"Obviously it was a very disappointing game," said Tom Coughlin, whose angry, booming voice could be heard through the closed locker room doors when he addressed his team after the game. "We didn't execute on offense at all. We didn't have any balance. And we didn't rush the ball."


No doubt Eli Manning will get much of the blame for the Giants' second straight loss. He was awful, completing just 19 of 41 passes for 230 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. His subpar effort continued a slump that is now six games long.


But against the Jaguars (6-4), Manning didn't have any help at all. Barber rushed just 10 times for only 27 yards and the banged-up defense - which still is missing five starters - couldn't pressure Jags quarterback David Garrard at all. And with no pressure, Garrard (19-for-32, 249 yards) was able to throw freely into the Giants' secondary all night long.


Garrard's most important pass came early in the fourth quarter - a 49-yarder to Matt Jones with 13 minutes remaining. On the next play, Maurice Jones-Drew ran untouched through the middle of the Giants' defense for a 3-yard touchdown that broke open a close game and gave the Jags a 23-10 lead.


Meanwhile Manning, trying desperately to jump-start his team, couldn't get anything going, even when the Giants turned to their no-huddle attack. He killed one drive when he threw his second interception of the night - to linebacker Clint Ingram with 9:29 left. And the game essentially ended with a Tim Carter fumble at the Jacksonville 7 with 4:29 to play.


"I didn't play well," Manning admitted. "I've just got to start playing better football."


"He's frustrated, too," Coughlin added. "He's trying to make something happen, and he's looking for someone to help him make something happen."


He certainly had his chances against the Jags. Despite an awful first 28 minutes, in which Manning completed just three of 10 passes for 42 yards - all on dump-offs to his two running backs, Brandon Jacobs and Barber - the Giants still only trailed 10-3 late in the first half when Gibril Wilson stripped Jags running back Fred Taylor (24 carries, 79 yards) just as Taylor was about to cross the goal line.


Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce recovered that fumble in the end zone, but the offense ended up stalling just after it crossed midfield.


Then, in the third quarter, the Giants got what should have been their big break, after Manning fumbled at his 18 and Jacksonville defensive end Paul Spicer returned it for an apparent touchdown. But instead of a 20-3 Jaguars lead, the play was called back when Jags corner Rashean Mathis drew an illegal hands-to-the-face call that gave the Giants a first down and new life.


Then finally, running a no-huddle attack, the Giants capitalized when Plaxico Burress took a short pass from Manning, side-stepped two Jaguar defenders and took it 25 yards for a touchdown. That completed a 14-point swing that pulled the Giants within 13-10 with 6:32 left in the third, and kept them within 16-10 as the fourth quarter began.


But the Giants couldn't do any more damage than that, thanks to an offense that couldn't move the football and a defense that couldn't get the Jaguars off the field. In fact, the Jaguars ended up holding onto the football for more than 40 minutes - a big reason why Burress said the Giants' offense "was just out of sync."


Another reason was the startling lack of balance - 41 pass attempts and 14 runs in a game that wasn't out of reach until the end.


"With no run game, we threw the ball maybe more than we should have," Coughlin said. "And we didn't have the results."


There was a time, though, when the Giants' passing attack was so potent, it could carry the offense on its own.


Those days, though, are starting to look like they're over.


"There's an awful lot of plays being left on the field in my opinion," Coughlin said. "We're just not making any plays."


Originally published on November 21, 2006

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"I'm concerned that we're not making plays that allow us to be productive," Coughlin said. "We don't do a lot to help him and get him started. There are a lot of drops. He's frustrated. He's looking to make something happen. He's looking for someone to help him make something happen."



that's called sugarcoating!. David Garrard's wide receivers dropped more passes these last few weeks yet he made plays. Once again, I don't get it. Why does eli need to get started?. He's looking to make something happen!. Shouldn't he be?

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Big Blue sticks with Manning






Eli Manning trots off field after Jacksonville debacle, but Tom Coughlin makes it clear that embattled QB will be running back onto it for Giants' next game.


Tom Coughlin promised to spend some time the next few days trying to figure out how to fix his struggling offense and help his slumping quarterback. He sounded like he'll consider almost anything.

But he will not consider a quarterback change.


"No," Coughlin said yesterday. "I think what we have to do is get the improvement (and) get Eli back on track."


That won't be easy, considering how far off track Eli Manning looks right now, especially after he turned in his second straight awful performance in the Giants' 26-10 loss in Jacksonville Monday night. The slump for the 25-year-old quarterback is now six games old. And to find worse back-to-back performances than the ones he gave the last two weeks, you have to go back to the first four games of his rookie year.


Monday night he looked rattled by the Jaguars' powerful defense, as he completed just 19 of 41 passes for 230yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. His completion percentage, which was once threatening to hit 70, has plummeted to 45.2 the last two weeks. And at least half of his 41 passes against the Jags appeared to be badly under- or overthrown.


"I know that he's concerned," Coughlin said. "I do not think that he gets rattled. I know that he was frustrated a couple of times at some of the opportunities that he had that didn't prevail. I think there probably is frustration. I think any normal human being would be frustrated when things consistently don't go your way."


By now most things were supposed to be going Manning's way. That's why the Giants made the blockbuster trade for him in 2004. This is his third year in the NFL and his second full year as a starter. There was supposed to be no doubt that he was the right quarterback to lead this team.


Instead, he's fading fast, just as he did over the final six games of last season when he slumped his way right into a shutout in his first career playoff start. Now, 24 quarterbacks who have made at least one start this season have a better rating than Manning's 77.5, and 26 have a better completion percentage than his 57.8.


Perhaps worse, Manning is now dragging the offense down with him. In the first four games, the Giants - 6-4 and tied atop the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys - were averaging 396.3 yards per game. In the last six, that average has dipped by 99 yards to just 297.3.


And while Coughlin put plenty of blame on his quarterback yesterday - he called the fourth-quarter interception to linebacker Clint Ingram inexcusable - he also said the entire offense was "out of sync, out of whack." The Giants had been helping their banged-up defense with a run-based, ball-control offense as they streaked to a 6-2 record.


"Now you're looking at the opposite, in my opinion," Coughlin said. "There's no momentum. There isn't any flow to your game because the offense is not playing well. So now we're in a situation where I have to spend some time thinking about how we might be able to get back in sync and playing together again."


Whatever brainstorm Coughlin comes up with, Manning will still make his 35th straight start for the Giants Sunday in Nashville when they face the Tennessee Titans (3-7). Only Coughlin knows whether that's on merit or due to the fact that he has no other options. Manning's backup is Jared Lorenzen, whose next NFL pass will be his first. The other quarterback on the team is five-year veteran Tim Hasselbeck, who hasn't thrown a regular-season pass since Dec.27, 2003.


Given those choices, Manning remains the Giants' best hope to defend their NFC East title, at least in Coughlin's eyes.


"I just think it's a matter of he has to work his way out of it," Coughlin said. "He has to play his way out of it."

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