*Eli Manning discusses the play of the offense in the first half of the season and how to turn it around: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – One of Bill Parcells' most oft-repeated phrases during his Hall of Fame coaching career was, "you are what your record says you are." The Giants are 1-6 as they enter their bye week, and Eli Manning knows exactly what that mark means for him.
"Everybody knows the record, so I got to play better," Manning said shortly before the players scattered for a five-day break. "I'm going to keep fighting, keep finding ways to get completions, and see if we can move the ball and score some more points."
That last, uh, point, has been an issue all season. The Giants are 30th in the NFL with an average of 16.0 points per game. On Sunday, they lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 24-7, the third time this season they did not score more than 10 points.
Manning does not have the receivers he expected to be throwing to this season. Two weeks ago, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Brandon Marshall suffered season-ending ankle injuries, and Sterling Shepard sustained a sprained ankle that has kept him out of the last two games (one of them the Giants' only victory, in Denver). In their absence, rookie tight end Evan Engram has become Manning's preferred target. In the last two games, the new and inexperienced group of wideouts has combined for seven catches.
But Manning refuses to put the onus for the offense's struggles on Roger Lewis, Jr., Tavarres King, and Travis Rudolph.
"Everybody knows their assignments," Manning said. "It's guys who have been here, so they're running the right routes. It's just a matter of – it's not all on them. It's not on the receivers. It's not just, 'Hey, the receivers ran bad routes. That's the reason we're not having success.' I think they're doing a good job. We got to give them an opportunity. We got to give them shots to make plays. So this isn't the receivers' fault. They're doing some good things. It's our job to give them an opportunity to get open."
Those three receivers have played in a total of 33 regular-season games. Manning has played in 208, starting his last 206. He believes he must help the receivers play better.
"I think that's definitely part of the job," Manning said. "You got to find out what guys do well and put them in a position to make plays, throw accurate passes and give them a shot to make plays. So it's a combination. We have to make improvements. I have to – not coach them up – but make sure we're doing things the right way and everybody is playing at a high level."
That includes the man who made that statement.
"I can still play at a high level," he said, "and can get this offense going and do better than what we're doing."
While some outside the organization wonder if rookie Davis Webb will get a chance to play if the Giants continue to lose, Manning is focused on what he can do to help the team win.
"I got to play better," he said. "I'm going to worry about my job – going out there and playing at a high level."
Manning is confident he can do that consistently, and that the team can follow his lead in the final nine games. The Giants return to action on Nov. 5, at home against the 5-2 Los Angeles Rams.
"I think we can win some games, and it starts each and every one." Manning said. "Just have a great game plan, understand what that is and how we're going to have to play. I think we've done a decent job of hanging in games. These last couple weeks when we lost some guys and really the last five games, we've been right there in them until the last seconds of games, last quarters of games. So we understand. We got a good defense. We got to rely on them. We have to do better offensively, get some big plays, do better getting some explosive plays, get to the fourth quarter and then make the plays there to win the game."
The framework is there. The Giants will have nine Sundays in November and December to build on it.
*Engram leads the Giants with 30 receptions for 342 yards, and his three touchdowns tie Beckham for the team lead – and are just two shy of the Giants' record for rookie tight ends, set by Bob Tucker 47 years ago.
"Individually, the biggest thing I've been learning – a lot about myself, about this team, about kind of handling adversity and how hard it is to win in this league," Engram said. "So definitely a lot of learning, a lot of fighting. This team is really relentless and I try to come in here and be the same with these guys each and every day."
The Giants still have more than half their games to play.
"That's crazy," Engram said. "Coming into it, people kind of tried to warn me about the length of the season and the rookie wall, but it's really not that bad. I think it's kind of a mentality – a mental thing. It's tough right now for us, but I'm enjoying each and every day coming up here and putting the work in."
*Shepard said, "I'll be ready to go" when the Giants play the Rams. Regarding his role without Beckham and Marshall, Shepard said, "It's going to be different, you don't have the same faces in there. That alone, it's going to change. But my role is going to stay the same, I'm kind of a guy that leads by example. But I'll be vocal if I have to and that's kind of what role I've had to take these last two weeks, just staying in the guys' ears and keeping their heads held high."