By Steve Silverman
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Few coaches have ever had more to do in a bye week than Tom Coughlin.
The pressure is always on when you are the coach of the defending Super Bowl champions. When you dominate the preseason favorite on the road the way the Giants did when they beat the San Francisco 49ers in Week Six, you don't do anything to lessen expectations.
But as strong as the Giants were in that game, they were that weak against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. It was almost like the Giants and Bengals switched uniforms.
Cincinnati came out with a head of steam and the Giants were acting like they didn't know what happened. Andy Dalton threw the ball with accuracy and took advantage of all the holes in the Giants secondary. Eli Manning had another ineffective game. Instead of being a step ahead of the defense he was a step behind.
When the Giants can't even mount a rally against an ordinary AFC team, there are serious issues.
Start with Manning, who has thrown two touchdown passes in his last five games, and none in the last three games.
In the NFL, there's no winning with that kind of quarterback performance. Coughlin knows it, Manning knows it and the Giants know it also.
Manning is saying that he does not have a tired arm, but he is throwing the ball as if it was a shot put. This is not the same quarterback who ripped through four teams in last year's postseason. He is playing football as though it were some kind of burden to bear.
He is not putting the ball where he usually does. His receivers are not getting a chance to show off their big-play skills.
On the defensive side, the Giants have not been putting pressure on quarterbacks the way they have in the past or the way they are capable of playing. That lack of pass rush has exposed the secondary.
No, the Giants are not as vulnerable in the defensive backfield as the New England Patriots are, but it is not anything close to a strength. They can improve the coverage a little bit, but if they have any hope of repeating, the pass rush has to get nasty and consistent.
That means that Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph have to start dominating again. Once in a while is not going to get it. Pretty good is not enough. The pass rushers have to show they are still hungry.
The motivation is not going to come from Coughlin or Perry Fewell, it has to come from within.
When they come back from their bye week, they are going right into the iron of their schedule. If they faced a home stretch of weak sisters like the Jets will face, this two-game losing streak and 6-4 record would not be an issue.
But that's not the case. The Giants host Green Bay when they return to action and then have games with Washington, New Orleans and Atlanta. All of those games are problematic, but Green Bay and Atlanta will have something extra for the Giants after getting eliminated by New York in last year's postseason.
The Giants are going to have to be at their best down the stretch if they are going to defend their title.
Right now, they are lost.
They have 13 days to find themselves.
Are the Giants prepared for a difficult schedule to finish the season? Let us know...
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