All aboard Manning bandwagon

I tried my absolute best to avoid writing about the whole QB situation, what with just about everybody on our staff having touched on it this issue. Forget about it. It's the Giant topic in New York and darn it, I'm going to have my say.

Kevin Gleason and Paul Schwartz still stand squarely in Kurt Warner's corner while Keith Idec and Sam Borowski want to see New York's franchise quarterback Eli Manning begin to get some experience. You all know which way I'm leaning - and heavily.

From the get-go the thought from this editor was that unless Warner was going to take this team deep into the playoffs, his taking snaps away from Eli Manning was a waste of time. After the embarrassment in the desert, it's clear that that's exactly what's going on with Big Blue. You absolutely cannot blame the loss on Warner, who barely received enough time to throw the ball on most occasions. However, what's become blatantly clear to see is that Warner is able to guide the ship through calm waters, but he's certainly not as successful when the ship starts taking on water.

Would the Giants have beaten the Cardinals with Manning at the helm? Probably not. Don't even think Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana could have produced much behind that sieve-like line. But that's a moot point right now. This team is not going to go on some storybook 2000 playoff run. Heck, with home games against Atlanta and Philadelphia preceding a trip down I-95 to face the Ravens, they may be all but out of the postseason race by the second week of December.

That alone makes it imperative that Tom Coughlin makes the move to the rookie. There needs to be no further discussion. We're not blaming Warner for all the Giants troubles, but he knew the deal when he signed with New York. This is Manning's team for at least the next decade, and Warner needs to step aside. The nine starts - and five wins - that Warner received was a lot more than he probably should have gotten. Thank him for his efforts and for being one of the classiest gentlemen ever to dress in Big Blue's locker room. But now Warner is only wasting everyone's time.

Forget the club's 5-4 record. Forget the good start. Forget the daunting upcoming schedule. The only reason Coughlin could possibly have for continuing to start Warner is the coach's stubbornness. And we all know how well that worked out with Ron Dayne.

We're not saying Manning can turn this thing around right away. We're not expecting him to become Ben Roethlisberger overnight - look at the receivers Big Ben has to throw to. We're saying the Eli Manning era should have started nine games ago. Coughlin and the entire Giants organization cannot afford to waste any more time. Sunday afternoon against Atlanta, it had better be number 10 running out of the tunnel during pre-game introductions. It's the only surefire way for the Giants to ensure they get something out of this season.

Emotion only goes so far

The Giants all week talked about how angry and upset they were for their poor performance against Chicago. It showed when they stormed down the field 80 yards on their first drive and started a game with a touchdown for the first time in 18 contests. They extended the lead with another relatively effortless 80-yard march for a 14-3 edge. After that, much of that anger must have withered away. The Cardinals, who have now won three straight home games, wanted this one more. They played harder, smarter and, ultimately better. No doubt the Giants were affected by the recent injuries, most notably the loss of Michael Strahan. But the Cards didn't do anything special to win this game other than show more desire and discipline than their opponents. New York had better get a boost in both of those departments with two playoff-bound clubs on their way to Giants Stadium.

Give us a break, Tom

One of the first things Coughlin mentioned after the game was Jeff Feagles' lack of execution and "inaccurate ball" on New York's failed fake punt in the fourth quarter. While it ended up not hurting the Giants, who in turn stopped the Cards on downs and got the ball back in almost the same field position, to blame the punter when it was an extremely foolish call is laughable.

Coughlin later claimed that fullback Jim Finn was wide open on the play. That is just not true. Had Finn caught Feagles' overthrown pass (remember, Tom, he's a punter, not a QB), he still would have had at least two yards to gain with a Cardinals defender bearing down on him. It was hardly a sure thing.

Making that decision on a fourth-and-five from your own 35-yard line with 6:10 to play was ridiculous. It's one thing to play to win and try to catch the opponent off guard, but that was just plain stupid. When it became apparent the Cardinals weren't the least bit surprised and had the correct personnel on the field to defend, the Giants should have called a timeout and punted. Only Coughlin's stubbornness (ref. Warner and Dayne here) prevented it.

Extra points

Other quick observations from the couch, as a previous commitment forced me to miss the trip to Arizona…

If it's really the case that the Giants MUST have Jeremy Shockey in to help block on key passing downs in the fourth quarter, they might as well just run the ball all the time. I've never claimed to be an offensive coordinator and am fully aware that the Cardinals were sending people after Warner all day long (actually, Bertrand Berry just got another sack), but if your best offensive passing weapon is left in to block too often, he's not going to be your best offensive passing weapon all that much longer…

Reggie Torbor can sure play some football. In his most extensive action of the season, Torbor showed great instincts finding the ball, great speed getting to it and excellent tackling ability once he arrived. Tim Lewis has done a great job with this defense; finding Torbor more snaps is a solid way to continue in that direction…

It's time to shake up the offensive line. Six more sacks in Arizona and Warner barely had a chance on any of them. The Giants can't make wholesale changes in this department due to a lack of talented depth. But one player that's already proven he can play - and play well - is Wayne Lucier. Perhaps it's time to sit one of the three middle blockers and give Lucier an extended look. Might also be a good way to get the attention of a disappointing group of players. And we're not saying anything he wouldn't agree with, and realize he was coming off a concussion, but Luke Petitgout can play a whole heck of a lot better than he has so far this season…

Amani Toomer played a great game in defeat, catching eight passes for 100 yards and taking a couple vicious shots…

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