Perhaps the only silver lining Giants fans could take from the team’s fourth quarter collapse against the Cardinals was the play of Eli Manning. Yes, there was the obligatory fluky Manning interception, bouncing one off a defensive lineman right into the arms of an unsuspecting linebacker, but for the first time since Ben McAdoo was hired the Giants gave a glimpse of what this offense could be in the future.
Not that any of that means anything to Manning, staring at an 0-3 start with the 2-0 Texans coming to town. He seems more than enough room for improvement, though he continues to think the team is close to something special.
“You feel like you see the opportunities,” Manning said after reviewing the tape. “I thought we did some good things, but we just made too many mistakes that were big mistakes and left a few opportunities out there on the field that we needed to make. We just didn’t make the plays in crucial moments.”
As has become commonplace over the last few years, Manning was done in by a series of mistakes around him — the Giants had at least five drops, including two critical ones by star wideout Victor Cruz with the game in the balance, and Manning’s first interception came when Cruz tripped on a hot route. But Manning is Manning, and his rhetoric will never change.
“[There are] definitely things I can do better,” he said. “Getting into a better protection based on the blitz or changing a route to something different. There are definitely some things I can do pre-snap to help out the situation.”
For as many positives as there were on Sunday — the much-discussed no-huddle was used to great effect, and Manning and his maligned receiver corps picked on two good corners in Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie — the tone in the locker room has gotten just a bit more desperate, the same platitudes about execution and improving now tinged with a little anxiety.
“We’ve got to get better, but we have to do it soon,” Manning said. “We don’t have a whole lot of time to keep waiting to get better. I thought there was an improvement, [but] we’ve got to keep getting better. We’ve got to start making the big plays, we’ve got to start playing better in the clutch situations and so we will get better in our preparation and having better answers for circumstances that come up during the game.”