With the all too familiar November swoon seeming to tackle the New York Giants at the goal line once more a lot of experts are taking a look at Eli Manning and blaming a tired arm. I can assure you this is not the case.
A quick look at the game films will show that Manning’s arm doesn’t look any different strength-wise than any previous game. A look at the game film will also show that the passing game has been hampered by inconsistency, some of it due to Manning making bad mistakes like he did against the Cincinnati Bengals on back-to-back drives, but much of it due to the wide receivers.
Victor Cruz leads the NFL in drops. That has nothing to do with Manning or a so-called tired arm. The fact is Cruz is letting balls fall right out of his grasp. Some of it can be attributed to coverage, other drops are because he is taking his eye off of the ball before he has possession of it. His drop against the Bengals is nothing more than a mental lapse and Cruz has admitted it was the reason behind the drop.
Hakeem Nicks has not exactly had the best season to date. From breaking his foot to injuring his knee, Nicks has been banged up since training camp. Nicks has only played in seven games this season and has only one 100-yard game, the Week 2 performance that saw him catch 10 balls for 199 yards. The Giants are hoping the bye week allowed Nicks to get healthier for the stretch run. Without him, the Giants passing game runs through Cruz and he is best as a slant receiver, with Nicks and Domenik Hixon on the outside.
Tight end Martellus Bennett got off to a great start this year. However, in recent weeks he has been suffering from the mental lapses that seemed to plague him when he was a member of the Dallas Cowboys. He has dropped several passes that would have extended drives and he has frustrated coaches and fans alike with those drops.
The other elements of the passing game have been hit and miss as well. Ramses Barden hasn’t done much since he burst onto the scene against the Carolina Panthers. Rueben Randle has had trouble grasping the different routes that the Giants use on each passing route. Sometimes the receivers decide which route they will run based on the defense they see and apparently Randle has had trouble reading the defense and choosing the right route. That will be learned over time. Complex offenses are not friendly to rookie wide receivers and Randle should get better over time.
The running game has also been extremely inconsistent and the Giants have not been able to use it to their advantage. Although the Giants are averaging over 111 yards per game, the Giants have often been stymied on the ground or have been forced to abandon the run too early. This has allowed opposing teams to play the pass knowing that the Giants won’t be returning to a consistent run game.
There have been a lot of reasons for the Giants struggles on the offensive side of the ball. However, none of them are attributed to a tired arm from Eli Manning. Perhaps Justin Tuck said it best when he noted the Giants were getting a little “cocky” in their approach to games. Now, there will be no excuses when the Giants take the field against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.