New York Post
COUNTING ON OLD ELI-ABLE
While Eagles rely on fragile Bradford and Giants battle injuries, Coughlin has one constant
TOM COUGHLIN doesn’t know for certain whether Odell Beckham Jr. and his hamstring will make it through warm-ups and play Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field in a game that could mean so much for the division race and for the season. He knows he will be without Victor Cruz once again. He knows Jayron Hosley is starting in place of Prince Amukamara. He knows his pass defense is a work in progress.
Coughlin knows Chip Kelly’s Eagles had found their mojo against the Saints. He knows Eagles fans have it in for the Giants, and spew venom and hatred at them for having the gall to win four Super Bowls since 1987, or four more than their Eagles have won — ever. He knows DeMarco Murray finally began looking like DeMarco Murray against the Saints. He knows the Giants’ running game has been mostly stuck in quicksand.
Here’s what else Coughlin knows: He has the good fortune to own an $84 million quarterback who is paid to get the Giants out of fixes like this. Who gave the franchise the bang for its bucks when it counted against the 49ers at the end, and is being asked to do it again now.
Such is the mandate of the $84 million quarterback: sometimes, when all might be crumbling around you, rise above the rubble and rally the players around you. You see order when others see chaos. For much of the past eight seasons, at least until Tony Romo began to make his move, Coughlin has had the best quarterback in the division. He will have the best quarterback in the building Monday night, for what it’s worth. And it’s worth plenty.
Manning, 34 now, began allaying fears a year ago that perhaps he was no longer an ascending quarterback. He has made everyone forget his clock management forgetfulness against the Cowboys on opening night and fourthquarter foibles against the Falcons. He is getting the ball out quickly behind a tenacious young offensive line that takes sacks personally.
“It’s a high-efficiency, quick, ball-out-ofthe-quarterback’s-hand offense,” Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis said. “If there is any pressure, he throws it away. He’s not taking the sack and he’s not throw- ing the interception. He would rather take the intentional grounding and just eat the incompletep and play another down, and I think that’s why their offense is pretty eff icient.”
His 66.5 completion percentage is the best of his career. His 10:2 touchdown to interception ratio would be, too. His comfort with his young offensive coordinator and in the pocket has been comforting for Coughlin.
“You see it at times on film where he looks very comfortable and his feet look outstanding — that doesn’t happen overnight nor does it happen in two years,” offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. “But he’s working, he’s getting better at it, and he still has room to grow there.”
Kelly rolled the dice on Sam Bradford, who has been the anti-Eli:
2014: Bradford reinjured his ACL in Week 3 of the preseason and was done for the season
2013: Bradford tore his left ACL in Week 7 against the Panthers and was put on IR prior to reconstructive surgery
2011: Bradford suffered a high left ankle sprain on his left ankle. He missed the next five games.
Manning? He’s started every game since the 10th game of his rookie season in 2004.
“It’s helped us immensely to be able to have that position solidified and have an outstanding player, great leader at that spot over the years to be able to count on that knowing full well that that was going to be done as well as we could do it,” Coughlin said. “Then we would have to deal with all the changes that have happened over the course of time around that position, but because Eli has been there as an anchor and a guy who we can always turn to, it’s been a spot that many times we’ve had to build a football team around. So thank goodness for that.”
Manning engineered his 27th fourthquarter comeback victory against the 49ers. There is every chance that Coughlin will turn to him Monday night and ask for a 28th.