Eli Manning and the New York Giants remain winless through the first six games of the season, so it's no surprise there is not a lot of optimism in the locker room. There are a lot of "what ifs" and "how comes" and no shortage of suggestions as to how to turn things around.
When a team is 0-6, though, it's more than just one thing that needs to be changed in order to win a game. According to the Giants quarterback, it's a matter of the team putting together four solid quarters of football.
"We're just not playing a full, complete game. We're not playing four quarters of quality football," Manning said. "We may get two or three in, then our mistakes are hurting us. The mistakes aren't just a missed play; they're turnovers and missed opportunities for big plays, and things like that are hurting us. We've just got to get more consistent and just take care of business."
Turnovers have been an issue for the Giants. The offense has turned the ball over a league-high 16 times and Manning has thrown a league-high 15 interceptions.
But in true Eli Manning fashion, the Giants signal-caller is not dwelling on the past or his current statistics. He's focused on playing the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night and playing better to get his team a win.
"I'm not into evaluating business during the season," he said. "I've got to play better and I've got to eliminate the turnovers. I'm just focused on this next game and doing whatever it takes to try and get a win and playing smart and (trying) to make the plays we need to make to move this offense."
With the Giants essentially out of contention and Manning struggling, rumors inevitably swirl about the team going in a different direction during or after the season. One common notion would be drafting Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the presumed No. 1 quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Manning said he has never thought about being benched; he's too focused on the game at hand, but he believes any player in the league is not immune to losing their job.
"My goal is just to keep competing and try to put us in a situation to win. I've got to make some better plays and some better decisions when I'm in some bad sports, so I'll continue to work on that," he said. "I don't think you ever earn anything to be above anything in this league. It's all a case of what have you done for me lately.
"I have high expectations for myself and expect to bring a contender every year and try to win championships and make playoffs and play at a high level."
Manning said there were some signs of improvement he took away from the loss to the Chicago Bears -- the ability to rally, to score quickly and finding some balance within the offense.
As compared to years past -- years when the Giants were vying for NFC East crowns and top seeds in the conference -- the biggest difference is the fourth quarter. Manning has 24 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career and 28 game-winning drives, but this year that clutch gene has not been present.
"We've always been a very strong fourth-quarter team," Manning said. "Maybe (we) have been down a little bit in the fourth quarter, and that's where we've been able to score a lot of points and score multiple touchdowns or score in those two-minute drives to win.
"We just haven't had that this year. I wish I knew the exact reason of why that occurs. A different game has a different reason, so we've got to find a way just to either build a lead into the fourth quarter or get those games close. We've got to get our best performances in the clutch."
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