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The Three Biggest Things: Questioning the New York Giants with Dan Graziano of ESPN

December 20th, 2013 at 12:17 PM
By Max DeMara

The New York Giants are normally accustomed to being involved in late season playoff pushes during the month of December. This season, that's not the case, as plenty of circumstances have led the Giants to a miserable 5-9 record and plenty of early thoughts about the offseason.

'Tom Coughlin watches from the sideline' photo (c) 2012, Marianne O'Leary - license:

From Eli Manning's interceptions to plenty of injuries along the way, the Giants have contended with adversity most of the 2013 season. Is Manning most to blame for what's transpired? Have the Giants quit, or will they give the Detroit Lions a fight on Sunday? What impact might this have on the future of Tom Coughlin? Lions 101 chatted with Dan Graziano of ESPN, who covers the Giants, to get some answers on one of the tougher teams to define.

(1) Lions 101: Justified or not, Eli Manning has taken plenty of grief for all of the Giants' problems this year. How much blame do you put on the shoulders of a quarterback with 25 interceptions for everything that's transpired?

DG: Manning takes more than his share of the blame, which is the nature of the quarterback position. I think the whole thing fell apart around him from the start. He had no protection and no running game at the beginning of the year. The former hasn't improved, and the latter has only marginally. His supposed top receiver, Hakeem Nicks, is slumping through his contract year. Manning has contributed to the problem and has missed too many throws. Rather than rise above the problems and elevate struggling teammates, he seems to have been worn down by his circumstances and allowed them to drag him down. So I think it's fair to fault him for that. But this is a system failure, what's gone on with the Giants' offense this year. Almost everyone is to blame.

(2) Lions 101: Between Tom Coughlin and Jim Schwartz, who needs a win on Sunday more to help his case for Black Monday survival? Should both be in line for pink slips no matter their team's finish, or does Coughlin stand a better chance of returning?

DG: I think Coughlin's return is certain. The two Super Bowl titles buy him the right to coach the team as long as he wants to coach it. I believe team ownership sees it that way, and I would be shocked if he got fired, even if they lost the last two games by 30. Which they could.

(3) Lions 101: Have the Giants truly "given up" on the season as many have suggested, or can they still be mentally engaged enough to pose a dangerous risk to the Lions on the road Sunday?

DG: They're mentally engaged. They have not given up. They're just a bad team. Their five wins are against the following quarterbacks: Josh Freeman, Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor, Scott Tolzien and Robert Griffin III, who was benched two weeks later. From a personnel standpoint, they should be worse than 5-9. They play hard, especially on defense. They're just very, very easy to beat. The Lions should destroy them.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Lions, Eli Manning, Football, Hakeem Nicks, Jim Schwartz, NFL, Tom Coughlin

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