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We've officially reached the point of ridiculousness when it comes to Eli Manning's recent slump.
The "Is Eli Elite?" debate has gotten ginned up again, as if there were some semantic signifier that actually impacted his level of play instead of just being fodder for the lowest level of talk radio. At least it gave Dan Fouts a chance to break out the loathsome "You can't spell elite without Eli" line that we hoped had been retired permanently.
Manning has won two Super Bowls and he won six of the team's first eight games this season, leading exactly no one to openly question whether or not he's an elite player even when he played poorly. It was just two weeks ago when people felt comfortable claiming he was the best quarterback/player in the entire league.
If there's a good thing about the Eli discussion moving away from what's actually gone wrong in the last month and toward things that simply don't matter, it might be that anyone with a brain will be led to consider other problems with the Giants that could use some attention during the bye week. Manning's the poster boy for the team and gets the lion's share of attention, but it isn't like there's a shortage of other work to do over the next two weeks.
1. Stop the patronage - The Giants claim that David Diehl has played well since his return to right tackle, but there's simply no evidence of it during games or on film watched in the days after the last two contests. Sean Locklear made nowhere near the glaring mistakes Diehl makes every series and the entire line was more effective without Diehl, whose only saving seems to be that he was on two teams that won Super Bowls and that the team isn't prepared to cut its ties to those teams.
2. It's not all about you - Tom Coughlin has been a staunch proponent that the Giants need only worry about the Giants and that's a useful approach much of the time. When it has become clear that teams have settled on successful approaches to stopping you from doing what you want on both sides of the ball (Victor Cruz in particular), however, it is time to look at what they're doing and make the necessary adjustments.
3. Get the run game going - Either Ahmad Bradshaw is healthy and underperforming or he is hurt and playing poorly as a result. The Giants need to figure out which of those is true so they can either get Bradshaw healthy or see if Andre Brown's flashes will lead to better results in a run game that's been invisible of late.
4. From Prince to king? - Those ice baths seem to have done Prince Amukamara good because he's been the best and most consistent member of the secondary through the first 10 games of this season. He's been much better than Corey Webster, which makes you wonder if Amukamara shouldn't be getting more time on the opposition's best receivers in the final six games of the season.
5. Where's the pass rush? - The Giants win because of the way they throw the ball and the way their front four is able to stop the opposition from throwing the ball. Their inability to do the second has been magnified as the offense has shut down over the last few weeks and it needs to change immediately or any offensive shifts may prove to be meaningless.
The common thread behind all of these things, including Manning, is that the Giants need to toss out preconceived notions. Bradshaw and Webster need to be evaluated as they are now, not what they have been or not what the Giants think they could be, and the Giants need to be open to the idea that what other teams are doing plays a role in how well they are able to execute.
Anything less is unfair to the team and will leave the Giants vulnerable to an unhappy end to the season.