Five games into the season, there are two questions I didn’t anticipate asking about the Giants:
–How can they be in last place in the NFC East with Kirk Cousins (Washington) and rookies Carson Wentz (Eagles) and Dak Prescott (Cowboys) starting at quarterback when they have a two-time Super Bowl MVP?
–What is wrong with Eli Manning?
The $20 million man has been dreadful through the first five games, which is even more unexpected since: It follows two of his best statistical years; it’s his third year in Ben McAdoo’s system; and, his wide receiver weapons have improved.
Consider that in 2014, in McAdoo’s first year as offensive coordinator, Manning had 11 TDs, five INTs and 1,244 yards passing in the Giants 2-3 start. Last year, in their 3-2 start, he had 10 TDs, two INTs and 1,413 yards on his way to a career-high 35 TDs. This year, with the Giants at 2-3 with a three-game losing streak, including back-to-back prime time losses in Minnesota and Green when they scored a total of only 26 points, Manning has just five TDs with four INTs and 1,385 yards and is missing too many open receivers.
The offense has lacked explosion, rhythm or more than just two or three of the seven plays that offenses always know they can always rely on to pick up meaningful yards no matter what else is working.
So, what’s up with Eli?
The Daily News offers the Top Five Reasons No. 10 Is Struggling:
Could Ben McAdoo’s promotion to head coach be hurting Manning?
1. McAdoo’s Time Crunch
Now that McAdoo has moved into Tom Coughlin’s office, he is coaching the whole team, not just the offense. That means he has much on his to-do list than just preparing Manning to play.
Manning has a good relationship with Mike Sullivan, who was promoted to coordinator from quarterbacks coach, but it was McAdoo’s relationship with Manning and the Giants desire not to force Manning to play in his third system in four years that helped McAdoo get the promotion.
Does Manning suffer having to share him?
“That’s a good question,” former Giants QB Phil Simms said Monday. “I’m sure some of coach McAdoo’s time with Eli had to be cut out.”
McAdoo is still calling the plays, but he’s also deciding what time the bus leaves for the airport, what time the pre-game meal will be served and how to prevent Odell Beckham Jr. from destroying the kicking net. There’s a lot more responsibility as a head coach.
2. Happy Feet Are Really Sad Feet
Can you blame Manning for not having full trust in his offensive line to prevent him from getting bent in half? I can’t ever remember Manning being so anxious to get bail out on a play as he did last Monday night in Minnesota. At the first sign of trouble, he was drilling the ball into the ground. If it was grass instead of turf, a lot of worms would have died that night.
Manning obviously was aware that the Vikings had sacked Aaron Rodgers five times and Cam Newton eight times in the two games before he faced them. Rodgers is quicker than Manning and Newton is Usain Bolt compared to Manning. He seemed to be giving up on plays much too early, which is easier to understand when considering Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart are his tackles. No QB likes to get hit. Manning was feeling the rush before it was there, but he’s getting paid to hang in there and make a play.
“Is Eli getting the protection?” Simms asked.
Manning seems to be getting rid of the ball quickly and throwing straight into the ground as he did in Minnesota in Week 4.
‘Nope,” I said.
“Then you can understand why he’s not tearing it up,” he said. “You think Dak Prescott has got a magic button? If he’s not playing behind the best offensive line, then look for one that is better.”
The Giants don’t have a running game. Rashad Jennings missed the last three games with a thumb injury. Shane Vereen is on injured reserve with a torn triceps. Orleans Darkwa is not forcing eight men into the box.
Defenses are playing two deep safeties – and the Giants are whining about it – to prevent Beckham from running past them, but the Giants can’t make them pay because they are unable to gash them with the run and Manning is not finding success even though Cover 2 opens up holes all over the field.
“To me, even to this day, it’s an easy defense to get a lot of completions against,” Simms said.
3. Are Manning’s Skills Diminishing?
Not yet. He will be 36 in January. This is his 13th season. It will happen soon enough. It happens to all of them.
Simms, who hasn’t studied Manning extensively on tape, did say when he visited Giants camp this summer and has watched Manning on television in the regular season, he doesn’t see a drop off.
“I don’t look at him and say, “Oh my gosh, he’s deteriorating,” Simms said. “It didn’t cross my mind. I don’t see a totally different guy. I would not be afraid to say it if I see it.”
Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. are not putting up the big numbers they’ve had the last two seasons.
(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Manning has started 188 consecutive games, 199 including the playoffs, and that puts him third on the all-time list for QBs behind Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. It doesn’t appear he has lost any zip off his fastball. He has no known injuries.
But…he hasn’t thrown a TD pass in two of the five games – the Giants beat the Saints without an offensive TD – and he had two awful fourth quarter interceptions in the loss to Washington.
4. In a Slump
Manning had tight end Will Tye open down the middle and misfired on what would have been a 61-yard TD late in the first half in Green Bay. The ball glanced off Tye’s hands. It would have brought the Giants within 16-14. “The couple of passes I saw him miss, those were bad,” Simms said. “In the NFL, when you get those plays down the field, the rule of thumb is you just can’t miss them.”
Manning lost a fumble on the next play when the protection broke down and the Packers kicked a field goal to take a 19-7 lead. Instead of being down two, they were down 12 at the half. Manning completed only 18-of-35 passes even though the Packers secondary was depleted.
He has never been the most accurate passer on the short and intermediate routes, but he’s always thrown a great deep ball. It’s hard to imagine how he placed that crucial 38-yarder down the left sideline in the hands of a well-covered Mario Manningham on the game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLVI and then blew the easy pass to Tye.
A better player than Tye would have caught it. Why don’t the Giants have a better tight end? Their decision not to allocate the dollars to re-sign Martellus Bennett, a huge target at 6-7 with good hands, after his five-TD, 55-catch season with them in 2012 still is regrettable. Bennett had fun Sunday catching three TDs from Tom Brady. He was only 25 when he played for the Giants and could have been a foundation player.
5. The OBJ Nonsense
Beckham needs to start making yardage in chunks again. His longest catch this season is 45 yards in the opener in Dallas. His longest catch against the Saints was 17 yards, then 26 vs. Washington, 10 vs. the Vikings and 16 vs. the Packers. In his first two years, he averaged a 40-yard plus catch every two games. This year, he has one in five.
Beckham kept his temper in control Sunday night, but still had to put on a show and kiss and make up with the kicking net after his TD brought the Giants within 23-16 with 2:54 left. Why was he making it about him again, especially at such a crucial time?
For two years, Manning has been throwing almost exclusively to Beckham. He’s had a hard time working Victor Cruz back into the offense. Rookie Sterling Shepard has yet to make an impact.
As usual, it’s all about Eli, and they need him to start making plays or this season will be over before Halloween.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News