Eli did not have a good game, there's no doubt about that. His two INTs were both bad mistakes. However, on both of these plays he was rushed and had his jersey grabbed, which is definitely on the OL to give him better protection. If it was just these two plays where the protection broke down, I could give the OL a pass. But the protection was poor all day with some sacks and lots of pressure. The mistake Eli made on these INTs was trying to make a play when there was nothing there. He should have taken the sack and tried on the next series to get some offense going. Eli plays aggressively, trying to make plays, sometimes when there's just a small chance of getting it done. This is what makes him good and I don't want to lose that mentality, but it also gets him in trouble at times.
The combination of poor OL protection and WRs not getting separation is deadly to the offense. The QB has to hold the ball a bit longer waiting for someone to get open, but with poor protection, there are few opportunities to do that. I don't want to sound like an Eli apologist, which I sometimes feel like I do in this blog, but let's have some perspective. Eli didn't go from someone who threw for nearly 5,000 yards last year and for 500 yards in a game this year into someone who is inaccurate and makes bad decisions in a 2 or 3 week span. The whole offense has to improve including Eli.
As far as WRs not getting separation, I think a big part of it is Nicks being hurt and not having the explosiveness from the line of scrimmage. With Nicks slowed down, they can play him aggressively and the easy pitch-and-catch underneath routes that allows the offense to move the chains are not there. Every route has to be perfectly run and perfectly thrown. With Nicks not at full strength, not getting as much attention from the DBs, the opposing defense can instead focus on Cruz and take away what he does well. Giants need to have some deep threats on the field to open up the running game and the underneath routes. Is it possible that Cruz is a great # 2 WR but needs a # 1 opposite him in order to excel? It may also be possible that the Giants miss Mannigham more than we thought they would. Manningham may have made occasional mistakes, but he did have speed, could make plays and opened the field because he was a threat. We thought that between Hixon, Randle, Barden and Jernigan there would be enough there to fill the void of Manningham's departure. Jernigan hasn't seen the field and while Hixon has had his moments, he is not the pure burner that they need. The hope is that with the bye week off, Nicks has some time to get healthy and will return to form. If not, Giants should try Jernigan and maybe even get Beckum in the game for some seam routes. The big addition has to be getting Wilson in the games more. Even though he is at RB instead of WR, using him creatively could open things up.
Defenses have figured the Giants offense out. The bye week may have come at just the right time, if the Giants coaches can change things up a bit and respond to what defense are doing to the offense.
The running game has been pretty inconsistent. When defense sits back in the 2-deep zone, it should mean that the Giants can run the ball against the soft box. But the OL has not done it. The weak spot has been Diehl and it will be interesting to see if he improves at RT or if the Giants coaches have to bite the bullet and move Locklear back in at his spot.
I really didn't love Coughlin calling Eli out over his two INTs and calling the plays stupid, silly or words to that effect. He should just shut up and realize that as much as he (Coughlin) has done for him (Eli), Eli has done way more for Coughlin's legacy. If Coughlin gets into the HOF as a 2-time SB winning coach, he will be doing so on Eli's broad shoulders. Take a lesson from Eli - never throw anyone under the bus, especially your franchise QB.
I heard Eli slip up in a post game press conference and say that they have to come up with a slightly different plan for responding to how defenses have been playing them lately. He quickly backtracked and passed over it, not wanting to cast aspersions on the Giants coaches, but I heard it clearly and it confirms what I've been saying on this blog.