John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been a bumpy first half of the season for two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, whose 15 interceptions leads the NFL and whose 55.6 percent pass completion rate, per Team Rankings, puts the Giants 30th in the league at the halfway point.
While Manning is always the first to admit that he can do better with his decisions and throws, his lack of success hasn't been completely his fault.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Manning’s receivers have 20 drops through eight games, an average of 2.5 drops per game. He's also been sacked 19 times behind an offensive line that has fielded five different starting lineups in the first half of the season.
“We’re looking at what’s causing this problem and how we can fix it and I think to pinpoint it in one thing is a mistake,” said Giants quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan when asked if there was a common denominator in Manning’s struggles this season.
“Each play, and everybody’s talking about the turnovers and the interceptions, it kind of is a play in itself. Was it created by pressure and his reaction to it? Some, yes. Created by a bad decision by him with the ball trying to do more than he should have with the play? Yes. A miscommunication or misunderstanding between two guys, did that happen? Yeah.”
With so many issues being at the root of Manning’s struggles, then, how do the coaches and Manning approach correcting all of the issues?
One thing that Ryan pointed to was that Manning has eased up on trying to force plays that just aren't there.
“I think that there were plays where he was trying to make plays, certainly at times under duress, and when you can’t set your feet or you don’t set your feet, it can lead to inaccurate or throws with not as much on them as you want,” he said.
Ryan also conceded that the constant turnover in personnel, not just along the offensive line but also at running back, has been a factor in the passing game’s sluggish start.
“I think any time that you have a lot of different moving parts in an offense it’s going to affect the flow of the offense,” he said.
“I can tell you as a professional and as a competitor that I don’t think Eli spends a lot of time thinking, ‘Hey, I’m worried about this new guy.’ He doesn't think about that, but I think, in general, every offense in America, at every level, if you’re changing players, there is going to be a growth period. “
As Manning gets ready to lead the Giants offense in the final eight games of the 2013 regular season, Ryan emphasized that it's important for the 10-year veteran quarterback to avoid becoming too conservative.
“I think it’s very critical that he continues to take his shots when they’re smart and when they won’t get us into trouble,” Ryan said.
“Behind the scenes the one thing that has stayed consistent…is that this guy comes to work every day, his preparation doesn't change, he believes in his preparation and we believe in it. I think that will be the key and has been the key to turning the thing around.”