Eli Manning took a lot of heat after the Giants lost to Detroit on Monday night and for a quarterback, that’s just the way it is. You understand that you’re going to get the blame when you lose and when you win, you’re going to get the credit.
But there’s definitely a lot more going on in New York than just, “Eli is not playing as well.”
It starts at the top with general manager Jerry Reese and coach Ben McAdoo.
We might talk a lot about, “They don’t have a run game,” but that has been McAdoo’s offense. He was in Green Bay for eight years and if you look at the Packers, they don’t go into the game saying, “We’re going to pound the football.”
They’re going to throw the ball quick to the perimeter. They’re going to use their playmakers out in space. That’s all good if you have guys who are elite pass protectors. The Packers, other than the other night when they had their two starting tackles out, are elite pass protectors.
Time and time again you’ve seen Aaron Rodgers stand back there, bounce around to buy time, look down the field. The receivers adjust their routes and he makes a play.
Eli, he doesn’t have that time. The Giants run the same offense, and if Odell Beckham Jr. is not there to catch the ball at six yards and take it 60, their offense is going to look anemic.
They’re going to have to go on these 8-, 10-, 12-play drives and sustain that without a holding penalty, without getting sacked, and it’s difficult to sustain that level of efficiency without explosive plays in the run game or with a dynamic player like Odell. If that throw isn’t there immediately it’s probably going to be a sack or a negative play.
That’s where the general manager and the coach come in.
It’s easy, also, to look at left tackle Ereck Flowers, who gave up three of the Lions’ five sacks. He’s a first-round pick, ninth overall in 2015, and this is his third year now. The Giants are heavily invested in him – they didn’t sign a veteran tackle over the offseason, choosing to ride with Flowers. He’s trying, but he’s not there. Against the Lions, Ereck is over there battling his tail off against Ziggy Ansah and Ziggy is just doing whatever he wants. But there’s no help, and that’s on Ben McAdoo.
If you have a young left tackle who can’t protect your two-time Super Bowl MVP, you can put a tight end over there and you can chip (Ansah) on the way out. You can put a back to his side and if they’re not in protection they can hit the defensive end in the ribs, and you can coordinate that with the tackle where he can short-set the guy and invite the defensive end up the field right into the running back’s wheelhouse and get a shot on him.
The Giants did that in 2007 when they won the Super Bowl, and I can’t even tell you how many times we did that when I was there. We could cover up not having elite tackles. We had some good ones, but they weren’t All-Pro guys. There are things you can do with other players to protect those guys. Not just protect Eli, but protect the tackle, too, because, man, if you get beat that many times your confidence is going to go down, you’re going to start second-guessing yourself.
Now, the Giants won 11 games last year with these guys there so they can do it and if Odell is 100 percent healthy, it’s not the end of the season.
But I get concerned when I see clear deficiencies in a game from the first quarter and there’s no adjustment made. They have to do something from a schematic standpoint or just get another guy in there, but I think what we saw is they don’t have another guy that they feel comfortable with. If Flowers is going to be the guy, you have to do things from a scheme standpoint that helps the kid out.
They did it last year. I’m just surprised it wasn’t done on a national stage on Monday night against a great defensive end.
At some level you have to look at the head coach and the GM, because this was an issue last year for these guys. I don’t really feel like it was even looked at in the draft or over the offseason because they have the same guys.
They just figured they would improve. Well, that’s great, but now you’re sitting here two weeks into the season and you don’t look like you have much of a chance.
Question of the week
From Michael Romero: Through your past experiences in the NFL and all of your coaching opportunities, professionally and personally, what is one thing you look forward to speaking to Derek about each week? Do you provide him coaching feedback during the season? If so, can you provide some examples?
We did that the other day when they played the Jets, driving back home in his car, just talking the game and football. I’d ask him questions about what he saw on a play. I’m not really giving him advice, just experience. But early on in the game there were a couple of situations where he had two young safeties out there for the Jets and it was funny because we both caught it when they lined up incorrectly based on the front they were playing.
They rotated the wrong way. I brought it up to him and he’s like, “Yeah, they absolutely did.” He had to bring the receiver all the way over from the other side to block him and it was a successful run by Marshawn Lynch. But we both caught it and that was so cool for me because he doesn’t need my advice or input to succeed, he’s spitting out the same information that I’ve poured into him for 15 years.
It’s pretty neat to see that. Obviously, his coaches do a fantastic job, but it’s always cool for me to be able to debrief a football game and throws that he made.
The touchdown that he throws to Michael Crabtree that everyone is talking about with the “Seattle” check, he had come out of the huddle and they’re in a run formation. I could see from my view that the corner was lined up inside of Crabtree and they had nine guys in the box, so they were going to check to a pass, which is the case with 98 percent of the league. So he checks the play, but he said that he had a hard time seeing the leverage – it’s hard to see sometimes. I could see it because I’m in the box, 100 feet above him.
He had to look at the guy’s feet and take a peek at the Jumbotron and you could see it. It’s neat to have those conversations with him. He checks to the play and Crabtree makes a great play on the fade and everything is good. There are probably 100 of those things that happen in the game that we get to talk through each week. I try to give him my input and he tells me some cool stories. It’s a lot of fun.
David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.
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