Eli Manning Is in Tom Coughlin’s Top Five Quarterbacks List

Eli Manning caused a stir before the season when he said he was in Tom Brady’s class of elite quarterbacks. We initially laughed when we saw the headline, but after listening to the interview we changed our mind. Eli was asked a question. What was he supposed to do, say he’s not elite? His answer was logical. And he’s not the only one who feels that he’s elite.

“He’s in my top five, I’ll guarantee you that,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin told Boomer & Carton on WFAN. “He’s proved it over and over again.”

Coughlin also pointed out to Boomer & Carton what we said about the question: “What do you expect him to say? Come on.”

Exactly. It’s often ignored that players aren’t talking trash or boasting when their comments become media headlines. They’re frequently responding to a question and being setup.

I still maintain that Eli Manning is not close to being a top five quarterback, but he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the league. From year-to-year, he’s a top 15 guy. That’s not elite, but it’s not bad.

Tom Coughlin Thinks the Critics Should Line Up and Kiss His A**

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin thinks winning 10 games in an NFL season is a difficult thing to do. He’s right. That’s precisely why 10-6 is a good enough record to qualify for the postseason most of the time. You know what’s even more difficult to do? Blow a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter against a division rival.

The Giants pulled it off, and it resulted in all the wind being removed from their sails and an embarrassing loss to the Packers the following week.  By losing back-to-back games, the Giants forfeited control of their own destiny and needed a win and Green Bay loss in the final week of the season to qualify for the playoffs.  They squeaked by the Redskins, but the Packers took care of business against the Bears, ending New York’s season.  Whether they blew it or not, Coughlin doesn’t want to hear from the Critics — as we saw on Showtime’s Inside the NFL on Wednesday night.  Check out the Tom Coughlin “kiss my ass” video, courtesy of The Big Lead:

Report: Tom Coughlin Kicked Matt Dodge Out of Locker Room

On second thought, maybe Eli Manning wasn’t the loneliest man in the world on Sunday.  No doubt he was pretty lonely in that press room, but at least he wasn’t ordered into solitary confinement.  After he punted the ball to DeSean Jackson on Sunday and put the nail in the Giants coffin, Matt Dodge probably felt more alone — especially when Tom Coughlin kicked him out of the locker room.

As Deadspin pointed out, Howard Eskin tweeted on Monday that Coughlin walked into the locker room after the Giants loss and “saw his punter in tears.”  He allegedly told him to get out of the locker room and said he was no longer a part of the team.  Talk about rough.

If Eskin’s source is accurate and that’s really what happened, Coughlin owes his punter an apology.  Was it a bonehead mistake?  Absolutely.  There’s no way he should have punted it directly to one of the most dangerous return men in the game in that situation.  However, the game should have never gotten to that point.  When a team blows a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter, the blame should start with the head coach.  Allowing a team back into a game like that shows a complete lack of focus from the players and an inability of the coaching staff to keep them focused.

Obviously, Coughlin didn’t cut Dodge.  He was probably just angry and needed someone to take it out on, but he should have looked in the mirror first.

Is This the Year Bill Cowher Replaces Tom Coughlin as Giants Head Coach?

He’s been out of football for so long, I almost forgot that Bill Cowher was still available as potential head coaching candidate in the NFL. Two years ago Boomer Esiason predicted Cowher would join Scott Pioli in Kansas City. That didn’t happen and Todd Haley seems to have led a turnaround. Back in January, Jerome Bettis predicted Cowher would replace Tom Coughlin in New York. The Giants hung onto Coughlin despite an 8-8 season, allowing him a 7th season on the job. But with a 1-2 start this year, might 2010 be Coughlin’s last season in New York?

If the wheels completely fall off this year, the Giants could part ways with Coughlin. The Mara family is patient and Coughlin certainly bought himself the benefit of the doubt by winning the Super Bowl. However, the Giants got throttled by the Colts, have committed a league-worst 10 turnovers, and appeared undisciplined when they committed 11 penalties in a loss to Tennessee.

Tom Coughlin is Mr. Discipline when it comes to coaching so I believe he’ll get the Giants back on track. I believe he’s a very good coach and that the Giants’ problems are correctable. Still, given the Giants schedule, I don’t see them winning more than nine games, if that. Another 8-8 season appears likely for this bunch, and I don’t think Coughlin would be fired with another .500 finish. He probably will be given another season to show what he can do.

Apparently this will have an impact on Bill Cowher who may be on the sidelines for another season. Though the Carolina job could open up, Jerome Bettis repeated his thoughts that Cowher would want to coach the Giants. Bettis says Cowher would be intrigued by a rebuilding situation but that he would want a proven quarterback. I’d say Eli Manning fits that bill much better than Jimmy Clausen. The Bus still thinks Cowher is out for Coughlin’s job, but I don’t think it will happen this year. Looks like another year off for the Chin.

Tom Coughlin’s Vindication, Michael Strahan’s Cementation

Much like everyone who’s ever coached or played for a New York team, Tom Coughlin sure has taken his beating from the media. One popular criticism was that the coach should have been blown out after last season’s horrible collapse that resulted in an 8-8 season. To refresh your memory, the team had been 6-2 and looked like the class of the NFC at the midway point. In 2005, the 11-5 Giants were blanked by the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs. In 2004, the Giants started out 5-2 and wound up 6-11, another terrible collapse. The proliferating thought was that Coughlin worked his team too hard early in the year and that’s why they finished seasons poorly. I have another thought. Maybe Coughlin works his teams just fine. Maybe the Giants didn’t do too well last year because their best player got hurt, not because Coughlin can’t coach.

When Michael Strahan played last year, the team started the season 6-2. As soon as he got hurt, the team spiraled and lost six of seven. For a five week stretch, Osi Umenyiora was also injured. The Giants lost all three games neither man played, but won the two Strahan played that Osi didn’t. The ultimate point is what I touched on earlier in the Eli Manning post: the Giants defensive line is the MVP of the Super Bowl. That is the heart and soul of the team. That’s where the Super Bowl was won. That’s what makes the Giants effective. That’s what makes the Giants such a good team. Take Strahan (the all-time sack leader for an effing reason) away and they’re not that good. Take both Osi and Strahan away, and they’re a loser. Put those guys together and healthy, and they can disrupt the best offense in the history of football.

So this tells you coaches really are only as good as their players, and what I’ve felt all along, that Michael Strahan really is the MVP of the team. He draws the tough matchups, Osi gets double-teamed, and then Justin Tuck gets one-on-one matchups and makes plays. Simple as that. Strahan is the key to that team — don’t get it twisted. And the Giants won because the defensive lined pressured the crap out of Brady, beat him up, sacked his ass, and only allowed 14 points.