The New York Giants' loss to the Washington Redskins was difficult for a number of reasons. Opportunities are precious things, and no team is guaranteed one opportunity, let alone a second or third chance to seize control of their destiny.
The Giants lost much of their control over their destiny when they lost last Sunday. But not only that, the way they lost seemed to cast a pall over the fan-base. It also caused Tom Coughling to call for the players, who seemed to come out "flat" against Washington, to "extend" themselves and step up at bit.
The Giants' quarterback and captain of the offense echoed those sentiments in talking to his teammates.
"Yeah, I think just kind of talked about going all-in or talked about now. It's just about not doing the talk, but actually making it happen. And taking that extra effort to make sure you have the game plan, you have your assignments, you have everything down so you can go out there practice fast, play fast on game day," Manning said. "So it's just making that total commitment to knowing what your assignments are."
Eli, being Eli, wouldn't admit to putting any additional pressure on himself with the stakes being raised higher. Instead he is focusing on studying, practicing, and -- come Sunday -- playing smarter.
"I try not to put more pressure on myself than there needs to be, just try to go out there and do my job. Have a game plan, know it, study the defense, have a great understanding of what they're trying to do, what their responsibilities are in the defense, try to be able to get the ball out quickly, and get it to our play makers," Manning said.
Also, with the preseason and quadrennial rival New York Jets ... Well, not so much coming to town as going to the visitors locker room, the media had a number of questions about the upcoming game.
The most pressing questions had to do with how the Giants' injured offense will deal with the Jets' formidable defense.
"They're big guys and they're athletic. They do a good job sometimes bringing different pressures as well. Their front four is a lot of size and they'll do some twists and moving around. They tend to change up from week to week and give a lot of different looks and try to confuse the offensive line and the quarterback," Manning said. "So we've got to do a great job in our preparation and block them up and have enough time to get the ball down the field."
Of course, getting that big and athletic defensive front blocked up is easier said than done. Eli, however, has confident that whoever takes the field in front of him will be able to get the job done.
"Hopefully, we get some guys back. We had a couple of them practice today. But I have great confidence in those guys and for me, my focus is going to be down the field, reading coverages, trying to get the ball to receivers," Manning said. "Hopefully, we can run the ball well, get in good down and distance. Whoever is out there, I've got confidence and faith they'll do their job and give us an opportunity to make the plays."
He did have positive things to say about rookie lineman Bobby Hart in particular.
"A lot of times, we're just, hey, you're calling the plays and going. You put the confidence in those guys. All the guys have been in there playing this season. Obviously Bobby Hart, his first time getting some action. I thought he came in there and did some good stuff and played hard and had a good understanding of what we were doing, what was going on. The more experience he can get, the better off we'll be," Manning said.
And did Eli have any special advice for the youngster facing his first action?
"No, kind of just, "Get lined up, let's play some football." "
Later, Eli was adamant that the Giants had to get their anemic running game going, citing the importance of a respectable rushing attack in fielding an effective offense.
"I think you’ve got to get the run game going. You’ve got to try to get something, we’ve got to run the ball, we’ve got to get some positive runs. You can’t be stuck throwing it every down vs. them. And when you run it, you can’t be going backwards and getting zero gains because then that puts you in bad second and third down possibilities," he said. "They’re big and a lot of times, they load the box. They’re not playing a whole lot of two-high safeties. Usually their safeties are down in the box, so there’s always an extra guy down there. We’ve got to do a good job of finding runs and being sound with our discipline and blocking them up."