Does Eli Manning or Tom Coughlin Deserve Most Blame for Giants' Slump?

Lou Rom@louromliveContributor INovember 11, 2012

Nov 11, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, left, shakes hands with New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin following the game at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati Bengals defeated New York Giants 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Peaks and valleys. 

That's been the story of the New York Giants since Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning came to town. 

Peaks: Super Bowl victories in 2008 and 2012.

Valleys: Two 8-8 seasons, and one 9-7 season that miraculously turned into a Super Bowl championship year.

So, who's to blame for this latest valley, a two-game losing streak on the heels of a four-game winning streak? 

As bad as the Giants were Sunday in their 31-13 loss to the bungling Cincinnati Bengals, there is plenty of blame to go around.


The case against Eli

Manning has struggled mightily the last two weeks, completing 39 of 70 passes for 340 yards and three interceptions and bringing back memories of Good Eli/Bad Eli.

And Manning can't really blame today's performance on the ailing Hakeem Nicks, who caught nine passes for 75 yards. 

Manning was more accurate Sunday against Cincy, but still could not find the end zone and tossed two critical interceptions in the second half that helped put the game out of reach for New York.


The case against Coughlin

As good as Coughlin is at getting his team up for big games, he is just as bad at keeping them motivated against clearly inferior teams the Giants should dominate.

Pair Sunday's blowout with last week's defensive collapse against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and you have a Super Bowl defending team going into a much-needed bye week in need of some serious soul-searching.

Coughlin knows how critical a win Sunday was, with the Giants facing the Packers, Falcons and Ravens in the next few weeks—all Super Bowl contenders.

The buck stops with Coughlin, however, and the Giants head coach once again failed to get his team up for a game they should have won.

This has always been the rub with Coughlin. 

A master motivator when he wants to be, a ghost walking the sideline when he doesn't.

As much as Giants players are criticized for "showing up" when they want to show up, Coughlin needs to be accountable for not keeping his team—on both sides of the ball—sharp, disciplined, focused and motivated from week to week. 

The Giants now rank third-worst in rushing defense and are better than only 10 teams in passing defense—that, from a team beset with injuries (to be fair) but deeper in talent than it was a year ago.

Coaxing the most out of your team—even when it's hurt, even when it's looking to a bye, or a Green Bay matchup—is what Hall of Fame coaches do.

Coughlin has to accept responsibility for the poor performance of his defending Super Bowl champions the last two games because he shoulders the bulk of the blame.