You know that things are all fine and dandy when not one, but both starting quarterbacks in town co-star in a television advertisement plugging Toyotas. Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez were the media darlings during the sports cast and commercial break, riding high by ripping off three consecutive wins to begin the season. In the Giants case, add two more weeks to that.
But as we have reached the halfway point in the schedule, what seemed like a sure thing is anything but that. The playoffs are a shaky proposition right now for the 4-4 Jets, while the 5-3 Giants are struggling to hang in after looking like the favorite to win the always-tough NFC East.
Ironically, both teams were handed their first loss in New Orleans by the still undefeated Saints. Sanchez had the proverbial bad game that every rookie must experience while the G-Men were merely outplayed in the Big Easy. But these are losses that you can live with. It has been the defeats since then that are troublesome for New York/New York.
Gang Green dropped three divisional games, two to Miami. All three were winnable, especially the abysmal overtime home loss to the Bills, hardly a powerhouse team. Big Blue, during their current three game losing streak, fell at home to the inconsistent Cardinals and then took a 40-17 spanking in Philadelphia to an Eagles squad that had the nerve to lose to the hapless Raiders two weeks ago.
An easy excuse would be to point at Manning suffering plantar fasclitis in his foot for his and the team’s struggles, but the Ole Miss product would have none of that. “It feels great,” he said. “It hasn’t bothered me all week. I’m not taping it; I’m not doing anything with it anymore. That’s not the problem.”
Tom Coughlin wondered if the foot problem was causing Manning’s mechanics to become an issue. “That’s the first thing you think of when someone injures themselves like that,” the head coach said. “Your concern is if the mechanics are changed, then the shoulder, the arm, the back or something else will be an issue if you’re not careful.”
Injuries have not been the problem with Sanchez, but rather what would be expected from someone just a few months removed from college. “That’s the kind of pressure you’re under every week, every play, every game,” he said. “It’s this kind of league. Inside, it’s about mental toughness at this position.”
His rookie head coach has no regrets naming Sanchez the starter during the preseason and knew that there were going to be some growing pains. “I think he’s done a heck of a job, especially these last two weeks bouncing back from that poor performance against Buffalo (five interceptions),” he said. “I think the guy’s had a pretty damn good year. Obviously he’s going to get better.”
Ryan hopes and it starts this week when the Jets have a bye. The entire team can recharge their batteries and take a good, hard look at some ugly game film to try to correct their mistakes. The Giants do not have that luxury, though. They will host the Chargers (4-3) on Sunday, November 8.
Just as easy as their fortunes changes from good to bad so quickly, the opposite can happen, too. Both teams can go out and win four out of their next five and hop right back into the driver’s seat.