We are approaching Week 12 in the 17 week NFL season. The New York Giants are 6-4 on the year after losing their last two games to the Cowboys and Eagles.
Now, in the middle of a playoff push, the Giants are without yet another wide receiver. The list of injured wide receivers continues to get longer, putting more emphasis on Eli Manning’s passes.
Manning has thrown for 2595 yards and 21 touchdowns this season, both good numbers. The problem has been turnovers. Manning has thrown the second most interceptions in the NFL this season, behind only Brett Favre. Granted, many of the interceptions went off receivers fingers but Manning must be sure to put the ball on the numbers.
With Steve Smith, Dominek Hixon, and now Hakeem Nicks all sidelined, Eli Manning no longer has a comfortable option to look for. Mario Manningham will step into the number one receiver role this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Duke Calhoun is the second option with Derek Hagan third.
Manning is fourth in the league in completion percentage among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 200 passes. Outside of the interceptions, Manning is having a very good year. Things will get tougher without Smith and Nicks, two Pro Bowl caliber receivers.
Turnovers have been the problem for the Giants all season. In the early portion of the year, the Giants were able to get away with their mistakes because they were playing some lower caliber teams. Now with the season approaching week 12 and more and more big games on tap, turnovers will hurt this team. We saw this last week in the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s not just Manning. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw has had trouble holding on to the ball this season. Bradshaw who has taken over the starting running back duties this season, leads all NFL backs in fumbles with six. Of the six, Bradshaw lost five.
You can not win big games if you turn the ball over. Good teams will capitalize on your mistakes.
Bradshaw is fifth in the league with 867 and well on pace to surpass the 1,000 yard mark. In fact, he should do that sometime in the next two weeks.
The Giants need Manning and Bradshaw to take care of the football. This New York team has the talent to make a deep playoff run, if they stop the turnovers.
For Bradshaw, it’s all about keeping the ball in his grasp. For Manning, not only does he need to hold on to the ball himself, he also needs to make sure the wide receivers that will now be playing get the ball in spots for easy catches.
The Giants defense can only take the team so far. It’s up to the offense to do their part and that starts with taking care of the ball.
For the next few games, the Giants will go as far as Manning and Bradshaw take them.