By Billy Fellin
First off, I would like to give a hearty hey in my first article back here on Sportscolumn. College is crazy, and it’s a lot of fun, too bad the classes get in the way. But I am back and woe-weary of the New York Giants. My head is spinning at how fast downhill the Giants have gone. Eli’s confidence is shot, there is discord in the locker room and players are making stupid mistakes. But does this team still have a shot in the NFC? Eli Manning has been taking the bulk of the flack from the collective sports media for the Giants four game skid. And he does deserve some of it, but not all of it. He has been very confused about which team he is on, throwing interception after interception. He’s up to 15 on the year, many of them coming in this four game skid, although Eli didn’t throw an interception in the 23-20 loss to the Cow-let’s all jump on the Tony Romo bandwagon-boys. In watching Eli during the Cowboys game, I saw improvement from the debacles against Jacksonville and Tennessee. He was more confident in the pocket, and was more mobile that in the past two games. He was finding his targets and being smarter about where he threw the ball. Now, he is still having trouble with that four-yard dump off pass, but he was hitting Jeremy Shockey (finally, in this Giant fan’s opinion) and his check down of Jim Finn, Tiki Barber or Brandon Jacobs. Eli does need to step up and become the team leader; he has dealt with the media attention well for a third year quarterback, but he does need to step up and take the reins of the team, or the Giants will continue their nosedive.
Another factor in the turmoil of the Giants is the discipline. Tom Coughlin has long held the reputation as a coach who maintains high discipline of his players. Watching the Dallas game, however you wouldn’t be able to tell. Plaxico Burress and Bob Whitfield, both being seasoned veterans, garnered two personal fouls and CB Jason Bell added a third with his out of bounds hit on Terry Glenn. That’s just bad football playing and no concentration whatsoever. They let it get way too personal, and it got the best of them. That was 45 free yards that they gave Dallas, and they shot themselves in the foot.
Speaking of shooting themselves in the foot, not executing is also slaying the Giants. Consider the Dallas game: the Giants had two drives where they had things clicking, a rhythm going. They get within the ten-yard line and the drive totally stalled. Run, run, pass was the pattern both times, and both times it failed. They came away from both of those red zone trips with field goals, but even if one of them had been a touchdown, it would have made a huge difference in the momentum of the game. Mathias Kiwanuka fumbling his interception in first quarter is another glaring example. He didn’t need to switch carrying arms, just go down. Instead he fumbles it and the Cowboys know that they dodged a bullet on that one. But hey, it was good to see Sinorice Moss out there! Anyone? Ok, yeah wasn’t that exciting outside of New York and my dorm room.
Everyone is ready to point at the injuries that have plagued the Giants these past two seasons. Obviously the injuries have killed the Big Blue this year, loosing Amani Toomer for the year and half of their defensive starters for extended amounts of time. However, the timing couldn’t be better. Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyora will be back on the field next week against Carolina and Sam Madison will be another week healthier. If the Giants are going to make a statement in the NFC, it’s going to have to happen next week against the Panthers.
The Giants are in a very interesting position in the playoff picture. They are 6-6, tied with the Panthers, Eagles and Falcons for the final wild card slot. They hold tiebreaker wins over the Eagles and Falcons, and have the Panthers, Eagles, Saints and Redskins left on their schedule. They are still very much in the hunt for either of the NFC Wild Card slots, and maybe the NFC East, if the Cowboys trip, fall and Romo breaks his leg. Both of them. However, this won’t happen overnight and the Giants have to focus on each game. Winning out is in their best interest to silence their critics and prove that they are a playoff and Super Bowl caliber team.