It’s one thing for Tom Coughlin to notice the inconsistencies in Eli Manning’s game that has led him to eight interceptions through the first five contests.
It’s quite another to have a current outsider confirming those feelings.
“You never know what you're going to get with that guy," former safety teammate C.C. Brown told the Detroit Free Press. "You never know if he's going to come in and make bad decisions; you don't know if he's just going to have one of them Peyton Manning games where he lights you up."
Oy. Where to begin. Well, for one thing, Brown should talk. He was not exactly a favorite son around old Giants Stadium last year when injuries to the secondary turned what had been an adequate box safety into an inept cover safety. He gave up more than his share of touchdowns as receivers beat him repeatedly down the middle of the field.
So to hear that from the now-Lions starting safety may be like the cliched pot calling the kettle black. Yet, there is an element of truth in Brown’s statements, truth that Coughlin and Manning are all too aware of.
Eight interceptions is way too high, even if six of those came off receiver deflections that were eminently catchable. Manning’s last two, last week against Houston, were definitely not of that variety. And that is what has Coughlin worried the most – the bad decisions by a seemingly experienced and smart quarterback.
Yet, Coughlin doesn’t want to take Manning’s aggressive nature away from him. Right now, it’s a matter of finding the balance between making something happen and doing something dumb, like throwing a pick on third-and-long while nursing a 24-3 third-quarter lead.
“You don’t want to take that aspect away from him,” Coughlin said. “He’s always trying to make a play. He’s always trying to make something even if it’s something out of nothing. All I stress with Eli and with any of them is to be aware of the circumstances, know the situation, and don’t put your team in jeopardy.
“Throw it away. We’ll have a next play. We’d rather have the consequences. Let us line up or punt – we’ll punt the ball. We’re fine with that.”
Turnovers – Manning also has four fumbles to lead the NFL with 12 turnovers – are about the only thing that will torpedo the Giants’ Sunday as they face a tougher, but hardly forbidding, 1-4 Detroit squad. For all the talk about Shaun Hill, Calvin Johnson, and the receiving game, the way the defense has played, it may take very little offense to win this one.
Still, if Manning turns the ball over, the Lions will be right in the thick of it. And in that, Detroit is dangerous as their defense leads the league with 14 turnovers created.
Good decisions, then, will be of the utmost importance against a defense that just brought back an interceptions 42 yards for a touchdown in last week’s 44-6 win over the Rams.
“He was very good in his decision making the other day,” Coughlin said. “But we’ve got to stop this. It’s got to stop.
“You expect to be the team that wins the turnover battle in that situation, especially if you’re ahead in the game. You’re just trying to figure out the circumstances and how to play, and we’d like to put an end to this.”
Manning knows it, too.
“I just have to make smart decisions,” he said. “Third-and-long, just take my completions or throw it away.”
Perhaps Sunday he can throw it in Brown’s direction.
That would be the best kind of payback for some untoward comments.