NFL: Eli Manning and the Giants Need to Protect the Ball, Establish the Run

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NFL: Eli Manning and the Giants Need to Protect the Ball, Establish the Run
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

When the New York Giants take to the field Thursday night, it will be quarterback Eli Manning’s fifth game against the Carolina Panthers.

The Giants started their season out against the Dallas Cowboys, and although they lost by one touchdown, the game for the most part was ugly for the Giants as a whole.

Receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz combined for 96 yards when each receiver is generally good for 100 yards receiving each on any given night.

The Giants mustered just 269 yards of total offense to Dallas’ 433 and were unable to establish a balanced attack on the ground.

Manning’s stat line for the evening included just 21 completed passes for a 65.6 percent completion rate, 213 yards and one touchdown.

The defense failed to contain relatively unknown receiver Kevin Ogletree who burnt the Giants for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

Look ahead to Week 2 and despite a rocky start, Manning finished the evening with the second most passing yards for one game in Giants history, throwing for 510 yards, three interceptions and three touchdowns behind 31 completed passes for a completion rate of 60.8 percent.

His two main receivers, Cruz and Nicks, combined for 378 yards and two touchdowns while prized-acquisition tight end Martellus Bennett hauled in five catches for 72 yards and one touchdown.

If Manning and the Giants want a win over the Panthers to push Eli above .500 against Carolina, they’ll need to involve the run game more and bring that balanced attack at home.

Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for just 15 yards after leaving the Bucs game early due to injury, opening the door for Andre Brown who did just fine, adding 71 yards of his own and one touchdown on 13 carries and 19 yards receiving on two catches.

Manning himself needs to protect the ball better. In New York's win over Tampa Bay in Week 2, Manning turned the ball over three times in the first half, gifting the Buccaneers seven points early in the game and forcing his team to play catch-up in the second half.

Last season Manning set a record for most come-from-behind wins at six, with the majority of those wins coming from fourth-quarter comebacks. For success this season, Eli and company will need to establish themselves early and not fall behind.

Over his career, Manning has had 13 games where he has thrown three or more interceptions; seven of those have come in the last three seasons.

Allow running back Brown to establish himself and put him in a position to run the ball and create lanes. In turn, Manning will be able to keep the passing game open.

Last week both Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell combined for nine catches and 194 yards against the Saints.

Both Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson each hauled in a 41-yard reception last week, and Ogletree and Miles Austin each caught a pass over 34 yards for a touchdown in Week 1.

Eliminating the big plays defensively and containing Smith will force Newton to throw to LaFell while stopping DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart on the run will allow the secondary to make plays.

If the Giants can protect the ball, establish the run and find their playmakers, then they should come out on top.

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