Is life always fair for these Giants?

<b>Paul Schwartz:</b> So many things in life are not fair. But not everything is unfair. In the NFL, the season plays out and despite the bad breaks and fortunate bounces, the good, bad and ugly usually seek their appropriate level.

That brings us to the Giants. Some say that comparing Eli Manning to his older brother Peyton is unfair, given that Peyton is an established star and is having an outrageous, record-breaking season for the Colts. Of course, comparing Eli to the refined, mature Peyton is not smart but remember, Eli was born for this. He WAS the first pick of the draft, he did demand out of San Diego, he did want to come to New York, he does have that famous last name. Eli can't be expected to be Peyton right away but he can be expected to be a poised, polished, prepared rookie, something he hasn't shown himself to be in his first two career starts.

Ken Palmer: C'mon, Paul, let's be real here. Peyton certainly had his difficulties in the early going. Heck, he didn't even earn the unofficial title of 'best quarterback in the league' until last year. Everything takes time. It's extremely unfair that Eli has to constantly hear the comparisons to his brother, who's been around six years longer. Even more unfair are the comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger. He's been good, but he's just playing the Steelers system well and definitely benefiting from an offensive line and receiving weapons that Eli could only dream about. While Eli should get at least a couple seasons at the helm before he's truly critiqued, do you think you can at least let him play out the year before deciding he's not as good as his brother?

PS: You know what's really unfair? That Kenny gets paid to come up with this stuff. What's even more unfair is to judge Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard based only on their terrible numbers this season. Remember when Hilliard was viewed as that cagey veteran who could shake and bake his way around the end zone? You think he all of a sudden lost those skills? And Toomer has made more big plays than any receiver in team history. Is he shot? Hardly. Neither Toomer nor Hilliard is getting younger or faster but their paltry production is more the result of poor pass blocking, shaky play from the quarterback position and opponents knowing what's coming, all problems beyond their control. Yes, it would help if Toomer and Hilliard got more separation but there are times you could put Carl Lewis in his prime out there and the ball wouldn't get to him because of something bad happening back in the pocket.

KP: Wrong again, Paul. These guys have been around long enough that there's no way in the world their production should be this bad. Tom Coughlin always talks about what it takes to turn a game in his team's favor - making a play. Please, oh please, Amani or Ike, make a play - one play, any play - even if it's just a silly first down catch or something. Toomer has proven in the past to be one of the game's better receivers, although that stuff about him thinking he's in the Randy Moss/Terrell Owens category gets more laughable by the minute. Hilliard has proven to be one of the toughest, most dedicated players to wear a Giants uniform. That's all well and good. Right now, they look like a pair of wideouts that couldn't get open if their lives depended on it. And on the rare occasions they do get free, you're hoping they'll catch the ball, not expecting it. It's totally fair that these guys are getting skewered. In actuality, they've probably gotten too much of a free pass due to the 'young QB/lousy OL/they're great guys' scenario. They obviously have Paul fooled.

PS: You want unfair? That Kenneth Palmer actually owns a diploma from an institution of higher education, which is what Penn State sort of qualifies as. His degree was in chemical engineering, as Kenny invented pizza-flavored beer to combine his two great loves. You want unfair? How about the notion that all the injuries and stupid penalties are a direct reflection of Tom Coughlin? Yes, yes, we know that the buck stops with the head coach and he's the last-man standing when it comes to accepting responsibility. But what's Coughlin supposed to do when Michael Strahan reaches out to stop a running back and tears his pectoral muscle? Or when Barrett Green, on the sideline and not even in the game at the time, instigates a fight with the Eagles Jeremiah Trotter and gets himself ejected from the game? We'll admit that Coughlin was too full of bluster when he demanded fewer injuries and penalties, as if he could snap his fingers, growl and make it so. But it's not all his fault just like it wasn't all the fault of Jim Fassel before him.

KP: Of course it's not all his fault, but it sure is darn close. Mr. Discipline blew into town talking as if Jim Fassel ran a nursery school. He all but called last year's Giants wimps because so many of them ended up on the Injured Reserve list. Guess what? Things are worse now in Coughlin's two target areas than they were last year. The only thing funnier will be when Fassel gets to see it first-hand next Sunday in Baltimore. Of course Coughlin talked tough; that's who he is. But you know what they say about talking the talk. It's totally fair to point the finger at Coughlin since his boys can't walk the walk. The penalties likely come from him putting too much pressure on everyone. The injuries? Probably from the tougher practices. Not exactly sure how he can fix it, but he certainly fairly deserves all the blame for it.

PS: What's truly unfair is that people will take advantage of Kenny by talking him into believing this is some kind of rebuilding year now that Eli's in the saddle. How naïve. Just because the rookie is now the quarterback, the Giants get no pass whatsoever if they continue to stumble and bumble to the finish. Remember back to the preseason, when the front office trumpeted all those veteran free agent signings as proof that they were looking to win right now? Then they got off to a 5-2 start with a veteran quarterback in Kurt Warner, looking very much like a team playing for today. The move to Manning was made to save the season and if he can't do it, it goes down as a dismal failure. In the rotten NFC, where nine victories and possibly eight gets you a wild card playoff spot, falling out of contention is shameful, especially for a team that won five of its first seven games. What is totally fair is labeling the Giants as failures if they fade away and fail to qualify for the playoffs in such a mediocre conference.

KP: What's really unfair is the organization taking advantage of you, Paul, knowing you'll believe just about everything they put out there. Labeling the Giants as failures is similarly unfair. To begin with, the Giants are right smack dab in the pathetic playoff race. But what's the difference whether they sneak in and take a postseason trip to Green Bay or Minnesota, where they're certainly unlikely to repeat their earlier victories? This year is all about Manning. Might Warner have given them a better chance to win an extra game down the stretch and sneak into the playoffs? Probably not. He certainly wasn't going to beat the Falcons or Eagles, unless he played a whole lot better than he had through the season's first nine games. The only thing that's unfair is that Eli had to wait nine games until getting the nod. This year has always been all about him. Forget what the organization is feeding Paul that Manning needed to watch and learn. That's all nonsense; he should have been playing from the get-go. Then we'd probably have a team that was positioning itself for a playoff run; not just hoping to sneak in the back door. Since they botched that decision, next year is when the pressure builds, and all the expectations will fairly be on Big Blue to accomplish something.

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