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by Profootballtalk editor Mike Florio
POSTED 6:42 a.m. EST, December 6, 2004
GIANTS IN A FREE FALL
Once a surprising 5-2, and the New York Giants have now lost five in a row and sit at 5-7, still alive for a playoff berth but showing no signs of life after getting pasted 31-7 by the Redskins, who previously hadn't scored 20 or more points all season.
A league source tells us that the players believe that the team generally gave up when Eli Manning became the starting quarterback three weeks ago. The problem was compounded when Eli played, as the source observed, "more like Carol Channing than Peyton Manning."
The New York Post reports that the obsessive-compulsive nature of head coach Tom Coughlin isn't helping, either.
"The focus is too much on beating him during the week instead of beating the other team -- avoid fines, being five minutes early to meetings, trying to be perfect all week," one Giants source told the Post on Sunday. "You have to fight two battles and you can only win one. That causes you not to win. People might be drained or not focused by the time the week comes to an end."
"We've got talent," tight end Jeremy Shockey said. "It just seems like we're not utilizing it. It's frustrating because I don't like being an average player. I know I'm not an average player in this league. But it seems like I am now."
Moving forward, Coughlin's biggest challenge will be to boost Manning's confidence enough to ensure that his performance in 2004 won't repeat itself in 2005. Though we're firm believers in the notion of throwing a rookie quarterback into the fire, we don't like the idea of doing it after nine games, when the team has a winning record.
From Eli's perspective, he's dealing with a perfect storm of pressure. The team gave up four draft picks to get him. His brother, Peyton, is having one of the best quarterbacking seasons in NFL history. The guy drafted 10 spots behind Eli, Ben Roethelisberger, has won 10 straight starts. The team whom Eli spurned, the Chargers, are 9-3.
And, to top it all off, Eli is in a tailspin in New York, the world's No.1 television and media market.
The pressure will only get greater in 2005, if Philip Rivers is the San Diego quarterback and if he picks up where Drew Brees left off.
Hell, if that happens, we actually might even feel bad for Eli. Until we remember that he made this nightmare on his own. It's up to him to find a way to wake up from it.
By all appearances, Pats RB Corey Dillon -- who supposedly was out with an undisclosed injury -- lobbied the coaching staff to get back in for one play, which gave him the 2 yards he needed to get to the 100-yard mark for the game.
Lions owner William Clay Ford says he wants to extend the contract of team president/CEO Matt Millen beyond 2005 (which tells us that it's time for the Ford family to determine whether the 80-something owner has been introduced to a guy named Al Zheimer).
The Bucs deactivated CB Torrie Cox following his weekend arrest for DUI.
Redskins RB Clinton Portis and S Sean Taylor wore red socks in lieu of the standard-issue white for Sunday's win over the Giants; "I'll probably get fined, but I had to change my outfit," Portis said. "The white socks have been killing me. If you're not looking sweet, you really can't play too sweet. . . . They were talking about Tiki Barber being the best back in the NFL so I pulled the belt out.
Packers QB Brett Favre had one of the worst outings of his career on Sunday at Philly -- but if the game had been televised by ESPN or ABC, the announcing crew still would have spent the whole time talking about what a great guy he is and how great it is that he's still trying his best to bring his team back and isn't it great to see a guy like Brett Favre still playing great and isn't he such a great guy to be the great Brett Favre and greatness is Brett Favre and if you're still reading this you haven't quite gotten the joke yet, have you?
The Vikings are looking for answers after losing to the Bears by ten at Soldier Field -- how about this one: the team sucks whenever it has to play outdoors.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch puts the Ram's win over the 49ers in perspective, even though the team's head coach can't seem to do the same (psst, Mike Martz, it ain't 1999 -- and it ain't 1989, either).
Chiefs RB Larry "Huggies" Johnson took off his diaper -- and rubbed it in the Raiders' faces on Sunday.
It's been a rough week for the naive and the gullible -- Jason Giambi took steroids, Barry Bonds used steroids, and now it's being reported that David Boston used steroids. What's next? There's no Santa Claus?
Lost in the Lions' win on Sunday is the fact that Joey Harrington still sucks.
As predicted, the Jags set an AllTell record attendance record, thanks to 20,000 fans in black . . . and gold.
Jets DE John Abraham sprained a knee on Sunday; he'll have an MRI on Monday to determine whether there's any structural damage.
QB Chris Chandler and RB Steven Jackson likely will start for the Rams next week at Carolina.
The Titans used three onside kicks -- in the first quarter -- of Sunday's eventual blowout loss to the Colts.
Titans CB Samari Rolle could be done for the season with a knee injury.
The Philadelphia Inquirer gets all pissy about the fact that Fox's Joe Buck and Chris Collinsworth had the nerve to criticize the great and powerful Andy Reid for leaving his starters in the game with a 44-3 lead.