With the New York Giants season over in a disappointing follow up to their surprising 2011 season, a lot of people are wondering who, or what, is to blame. A lot of people have placed the blame on Eli Manning’s shoulders but is that fair?
Eli Manning didn’t have the greatest of seasons, especially after he passed for almost 5,000 yards last year. It is true that Manning was unable to pass for more than 4,000 yards for the first time since 2008 and failed to complete more than 60 percent of passes for the first time since 2007. However, it isn’t fair to blame the Giants’ failures and struggles solely on the shoulders of Manning.
The Giants finished 12th in the NFL in passing, averaging a healthy 239 yards per game, which isn’t terrible. No, it wasn’t Eli Manning’s fault the Giants finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. It was a concerted team effort aided by injuries and topped off with a dash of being overmatched.
For starters, the Giants passing attack was never a real threat after Week 2. That was the best game for Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and also the game in which Nicks injured his knee towards the end. Nick had broken his foot in the off-season and was never 100 percent.
Manning also wasn’t helped out by Victor Cruz who was tied for second in the NFL with 10 drops, many of which were the result of lapses in judgment. He also wasn’t helped by a defense that often had trouble getting off the field or allowed opponents quick points, putting Eli and the offense behind and forcing them to play catch-up. Sometimes, Eli and the offense were able to respond, like against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns. However, it didn’t always work like against the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, or Atlanta Falcons where the Giants were outpaced early and often.
Interestingly enough, the Giants actually finished sixth in the NFL in points per game at 26.8 points per game. That was up from 24.8 in 2011. The defense finished 12th, allowing 21.5 points per game, also an improvement from 2011 when they allowed 22.8 points per game. However, the Giants defense failed when it mattered most in two of the last three games.
The defense allowed a second-worst 383.4 yards per game. Only the New Orleans Saints, who allowed the most yards in NFL history allowed more yards per game at 440.1. Meanwhile, the Giants allowed a 25th worst 129.1 rushing yards per game.
No, it wasn’t Eli Manning’s fault the Giants didn’t make the playoffs. The Giants didn’t make the playoffs because their defense allowed opposing offenses to stay on the field for extended periods of time and often forced the offense to play from behind. That is not a formula for winning football games even with fourth quarter comeback king Eli Manning leading the offense.