Last season, Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw a career-high 25 interceptions and took a career-low (for a full season) 16 sacks. Giants coach Tom Coughlin says that’s Manning’s problem in a nutshell: He tries so hard to make a play, on every play, that he just won’t go down when the play’s not there.
“He’s a great student of the game, he wants the ball,” Coughlin said. “He wants to be that type of hero. The guy works so hard. We don’t have many sacks, he’s a big part of that. He doesn’t let it happen, but sometimes in doing that you put the ball in a precarious circumstance. Sometimes take the ball and go down. And I think that’s something we’ve got to do a better job of coaching and understanding that.
“You don’t ever want to take a guy’s, whatever you want to call that, the ‘will to make plays,’ the ‘competitive spirit,’ you don’t want to do anything to that but you have to, in that split second, you’ve got to try to enforce on that occasion sometimes a better judgment. Like for example, maybe it’s 12 interceptions and a few more sacks, which wouldn’t hurt our football team at all. That’s where it has to start for us.”
The most heroic play of Manning’s career, of course, came when he avoided a sack and heaved the ball down the field to David Tyree at Super Bowl XLII. But Coughlin thinks plays like those need to be the exception, not the rule.
“We’ve got to shore up,” Coughlin said. “If we don’t turn the ball over, we’re a pretty good football team.”