Now it comes to this: Defeat the Washington Redskins on Sunday and hope that the Chicago Bears defeat the Green Bay Packers. That's it. So, as we know, the Giants have put themselves in a position where 10 wins, a quality season by most NFL standards, might not get them to the post-season.
The Giants, of course, spent Monday stuck in Wisconsin. During his conference call with reporters coach Tom Coughlin was asked about the four interceptions thrown by Eli Manning on Sunday, and Coughlin did not shy from expressing disappointment in his quarterback's decision-making.
"Unfortunately there were bad throws, there were things you wish you had back that weren't real considerations, for example the football to the back that was intercepted. There were times where Eli has gotten away with that, where he's flipped the ball to the back and it has not been a sack and we haven't lost the yardage, but certainly we paid for that last night," Coughlin said. "I just think there were - not taking anything away from their secondary, but if the play is not there, if it isn't something that you think is going to give us an opportunity to keep the ball, then we've got to get rid of the ball."
We have talked about the Giants and their turnover woes all season -- as has Coughlin. They now have a league-leading 41 of them, and are -6 in takeaways/giveaways.
"You can't win at any level if you turn the ball over like that," Coughlin said. ""I think it lets the air out of our team a little bit when we turn the ball over ... I've been saying this all year, but this is what I believe in, other than points scored, points against, it's turnovers and there's a lot of - the word psychological was mentioned earlier and let me tell you, there's a lot of psychological stuff that goes along with this, too."
Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger, who has become one of my favorite columnists, has written a piece asking where Manning ranks among the top NFL quarterbacks. Politi compares Eli to several guys, and I think his results are pretty fair. Giants fans, and obviously the head coach as well, are frustrated with Manning right now. That is justifiable because he has made way too many poor decisions this season -- having 4.7 percent of his passes intercepted is a ridiculous total.
What it comes down to, though, is Manning is a very good quarterback having -- in terms of turnovers -- a very poor season.
We spent much of Monday debating whether or not Coughlin has a future beyond Sunday with the Giants. Many columnists have also written about that, as I'm sure you are aware. One of the best takes on Coughlin's situation comes from ESPN New York' Johnette Howard, so here is a snippet.
Coughlin is much too good a coach to mock because the Giants are on the precipice of missing the playoffs for the second straight season after yet another late-season swoon. He is not incompetent, and the players on the Giants' roster aren't all dogs.
There is a middle ground where whatever combination of strategy and motivation it takes to win in sports gets out of whack over time, and sometimes is even irreparably broken.
Coughlin isn't the first championship-winning coach to reach that hard-to-pinpoint impasse where things just stop working. But judging from the mystified remarks coming from him and his players, that odd purgatory is precisely where he and the 9-6 Giants seem to be now. And it could cost Coughlin his job.
There is much more in Howard's piece worth reading. It is an excellent piece that offers some historical perspective via a look at the final seasons of some other brand-name coaches.
Finally today, I leave you with the clip below. Ryan Parker is a favorite of mine, and he hasn't been around for a while. Parker, though, is back to expressing his feelings in song. This one, of course, is about the current state of the Giants.