New York Giants' coach Tom Coughlin was asked a number of questions during his Wednesday press conference about Eli Manning and the suddenly off-track Giants' passing attack. Reading through the transcript I did notice, however, that no one used the "slump" word that Coughlin and Manning apparently want no part of.
The veteran coach said he had "a nice conversation" earlier this week with Manning, whose 10-for-24 performance Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers was his worst since a Jan. 2009 playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
"We've been down this road before. He's going to get this thing right, and get our offensive team going again and get us on track. I fully believe that, I have great confidence in his ability to do that," Coughlin said.
I pointed out the comparison between Manning's numbers the first five games and what he has done the last four in a post earlier this week. They bear repeating, however, so here they are:
First five games
Last four games
Here is Coughlin's take, at least his public one, on what needs to be done to get the passing attack going again.
"Let's get on the same page, let's practice well, and let's do a great job of recognition in terms of our adjustments. Let's be decisive, let's get the ball thrown on target to the receiver according to what the coverage tells us to do. It's just a rhythm," Coughlin said.
"The one thing that nobody has really picked up on, which is kind of interesting, is you don't get any continuity offensively if you don't make any first downs. We haven't had any first downs in two weeks. Make some first downs. You make a first down, you'll have a chance to get some rhythm, get some continuity, get into your play calling. When you don't have first downs, it's like throwing darts at a board. You need the continuity."
Here was what Manning said Wednesday about the struggling passing attack:
"It all comes down to how we practice. Have great practices and hopefully, that turns over into game day production. I don't think we have to go in and change everything we're doing. We're still in games in the fourth quarter. We had a chance to go win the game. The fact is, when we get the ball back with four minutes in the last game and score a touchdown, everybody is feeling pretty good right now. That didn't happen and we're dealing with the consequences," Manning said. "We've got to keep working. That's all you can do. It's not a time to say, 'Oh, we've got to change our offense, or we have to do this-and-that.' We've got to keep working and start making some plays."
A return to full health by Hakeem Nicks would help, but that doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon. Nicks is back on the injury report with more swelling in his knee.
It would also help if Manning could start finding the strike zone again. For the past couple of weeks he has been like a pitcher on a wild streak. Way too many of those are a little high, a little wide, a little long or a little short. Whether Coughling and Manning want to use the word or not, he is in a little slump.
I am not an NFL offensive genius. Because first-guessing, second-guessing and generally make all sorts of suggestions no one is listening to is fun and stirs up discussion, however, here are a few 'helpful' ideas for Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
- Dust off the screen pass. We haven't seen one that I remember for a while. During training camp the Giants worked extensively on tight end screens, and I don't think we have seen that all year.
- Try the five-wide set once in a while. If Nicks is out and you don't have five wide receivers, use Travis Beckum as the fifth guy. I don't think we have seen much of this, either. Create a favorable matchup or two, get a throw out quick and get a first down or two. Victor Cruz says he is seeing "more double teams, more guys in my face." Five wides might alleviate some of that.
- Throw the ball to Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown or, or, or, what was that kid's name again? .... Oh, David Wilson a couple of times.
- First downs, then deep shots. The Giants LOVE the deep ball and they are often successful with it. But, get some short passing going, get a few first downs, get some continuity to your offense and then take some deep shots. Let's not drop back on the first play of the game and see how far Manning can throw it. No more 'chuck and duck,' please.
Your thoughts, Giants' fans?