For Giants, it's Manning vs. Coughlin
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Giants' recent woes have seemingly developed into a feud between the star quarterback and two-time Super Bowl-winning coach.
Coach Tom Coughlin had no explanation Sunday for Eli Manning's struggles other than to say “we have to get him back on track” following a 24-20 loss to the Steelers at MetLife Stadium.
Thing is, Manning doesn't quite agree he is off track.
“I don't think that is the case,” Manning said. “I feel like I am throwing the ball accurately when I have opportunities to. I am trying to find guys open. I don't feel off rhythm. I don't feel like I am throwing the ball inaccurate. I don't feel like I am missing guys.”
For the second consecutive game and the third in the past four, Manning has struggled. But the Giants had won those games: 26-3 against San Francisco, 27-23 vs. Washington and 29-24 against Dallas.
This one they didn't.
“We aren't executing as well,” Manning said. “Third down is a big part of it. We are a little off and not executing. It is a combination of things.”
A lot has been with the quarterback. Manning completed 10 of 24 passes for 125 yards and no touchdowns.
His 10 completions were the fewest since last year's Christmas Eve game against the Jets when he connected on nine. His 125 yards were his fewest in 59 games. And his 41.1 rating was his worst in 73 games.
Manning has only two touchdown passes over his last four games — none in the last two. He has four interceptions in that span and hasn't reached 200 yards passing the past two games and three out of the past four.
“It is just a matter of executing out there,” receiver Victor Cruz said. “We had some miscues today as well as last week, so we just have to bang away and get it squared away.”
“I just don't think we got open for Eli today,” tight end Martellus Bennett said.
The Giants' offense struggled the most Sunday when it was needed the most.
All three of the Giants' fourth-quarter possessions were three-and-outs.
“We didn't do anything offensively,” Coughlin said. “I was very disappointed, and I didn't pull any punches telling the players that.”
One of the issues is a lack of big plays. The offense lived on big plays through the first part of the season but has been stymied the past two weeks.
“Two weeks ago we were the No. 1 big-play team in the league,” Coughlin said. “It just doesn't make any sense.”
The Giants have only two plays of more than 20 yards in the past two weeks.
Coughlin acknowledged the struggles go beyond Manning. The run game produced only 68 yards Sunday.
“It is just not Eli,” he said. “He is our guy, and we have to get him back playing the way he was a couple weeks ago, and we have to do it in a hurry.”
One thing the Giants won't do is change their offense.
“We are not going to stop doing what we do,” Coughlin said. “People have got to play the way they are capable of playing.”
Especially Eli Manning.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.