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It Can't Be All Eli All the Time

The rest of the Giants need to pick up their game

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Eli can only do so much on his own.

    The 2011 Giants season is starting to play out like the entire run of Three's Company: Once you've seen one episode, you've seen them all.

    For the Giants, it isn't misunderstanding and Mr. Roper grinning at the camera after insulting Mrs. Roper but the team stumbling around for a half or more before letting Eli Manning take over. And once Manning does take over, everyone hits the Regal Beagle for a few beers, a few laughs and a little mugging from Larry.

    Wait, that's not right. That's the show and not the team, but you get the general idea.

    The Giants' entire game plan this season has been to put everything on Manning and hope that it works out.

    On TV, you can keep using the same formula every time and have everything work out in the end, but it doesn't work out so well in football. 

    We learned that lesson on Sunday in San Francisco when Manning made a big blunder in each half and pretty much lost the game as a result of those mistakes.

    You can quibble about whether the second interception was Manning's fault or if it was Mario Manningham's route (and the first pick never happens if Victor Cruz catches an easy pass), but the end result was the same as was the impact on the Giants' chances of winning the game.

    Those chances would have been zero if not for the rest of Manning's day. The two touchdowns in the second half were all about Manning's arm and the team probably ties the game if Manningham catches a bomb just before the team went bust in the fourth quarter.

    Quarterbacks rule the NFL roost, so it isn't surprising that a game should be so greatly affected by Manning's play but there's usually some other factors that enter into the equation.

    That's true of the Giants, but they are almost entirely negative.

    The running game is an afterthought in the game plan and will remain so as long as it is so unsuccessful on a weekly basis. Special teams remain a hideous mess that the Giants refuse to fix even though it costs them huge chunks of yardage at the very least.

    On defense, there's definitely a good pass rush but you have to wonder what else Perry Fewell is doing to stop opposing offenses. The secondary still gives huge amounts of room to wide receivers, leaving them wide open for a passing attack that strikes quickly and/or protects its quarterback long enough for him to throw the ball downfield.

    Given all of those problems, it's either a marvel that the Giants are even in a position for Manning to win them games or a sign that we're still underrating just how much Manning is doing for this team this season.

    Either way, the rest of the Giants need to start pulling their weight if the team's going to pull it out the rest of the way.

    Fast fixes aren't easy nine games into a season, but that's what the Giants need to do. After all, even the Ropers had to make way for Mr. Furley even though the show had a winning record.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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