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What They’re Saying: Coughlin, Eli Manning

Posted Sep 11, 2013

Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning discussed their upcoming matchup with the Broncos on a conference call with Denver media on Wednesday.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The six turnovers that ultimately came back to cost the Giants in their 36-31 loss to the Cowboys in Week 1 were a sure topic of discussion when Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning spoke on a conference call with the Denver media on Wednesday.   

And as the Giants move onto their upcoming showdown with the Broncos, Manning acknowledged that the turnovers contributed to his team’s undoing in Week 1 – but also added that the Giants’ mistakes were correctable errors that could be expected from season-opener shakiness.

You know, I think we obviously had some mistakes. There were a lot of good plays, we did a lot of good things,” Manning said. “Sometimes that’s football, you have some bad breaks, you have things that could be better. You have a new season, first game, you’ve got some new players – there’s going to be some mistakes.”

The Giants lost three fumbles in the game and Manning threw a trio of interceptions – the last of which deflected off running back Da’Rel Scott’s hands and into the arms of Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr, who returned the interception 49 yards for a game-clinching touchdown.

Now facing a Broncos defense that forced a pair of Ravens turnovers in Denver’s 49-27 win in Week 1, Manning made it clear that ensuring those mistakes don’t happen again is a priority headed into Sunday’s matchup.    

“You’re just hoping that those mistakes don’t lead to turnovers or aren’t crucial mistakes. That’s kind of what we had. Our bad plays were really bad plays,” he said. “We’ve just got to eliminate those and be more patient and understand that we’re going to have some good plays, let’s just not make the mistakes that put our defense in a bind and affect the outcome of the game.”

One area of necessary improvement from the Cowboys game that both Coughlin and Manning circled was the Giants’ rushing attack, which hit a rut in the opener. The Giants cumulatively rushed for just 50 yards on 14 carries, and second-year running back David Wilson was benched after losing a pair of fumbles.

For Coughlin, a rebound performance from Wilson is important to the Giants success. But, as he acknowledged, the rest of the league also took notice of Wilson’s Week 1 fumbling woes and defenses will do everything they can to turn Wilson’s rebound into a repeat.

“Well, he is a talented young man that we need to play well for us to have the kind of firepower that we hope to develop,” Coughlin said.  “He knows he’s a marked man and he’s going to have to prove that under duress and trying to make cuts out there on the field and so on and so forth.”

Manning emphasized with Wilson’s struggles, noting that he hopes the young running back will grow from his mistakes and come back stronger.

“He’s got to make sure that he’s doing everything he can to be mentally and physically ready to play and just go out there and play the game that he’s played for a long time and played at a high level,” he said. “He’s a young guy, everybody’s had bad games or had mistakes. You learn from it, you move on and you try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The Giants also brought back veteran running back Brandon Jacobs, who played with the organization from 2005-2011. Jacobs signed a one-year deal with the team on Tuesday  in order to help bolster the running game.

Jacobs, who has 4,856 career rushing yards, only appeared in two games during the 2012 season with the 49ers. However, Coughlin said that he wasn’t concerned about Jacobs’ physical condition, noting that the running back should be ready to contribute in whatever capacity he’s needed.

“He’s in good shape, he really is. His weight is good. He looked good today in practice,” Coughlin said. “Brandon is hungry to play and prove himself, willing – quite frankly – to take on any task. And that’s a good thing. I think he’ll benefit and help us to the point where our physical play is going to improve with him around.”

According to Manning, Jacobs’ prior familiarity with the Giants’ system should help ease his integration into the offense. 

“He knows the offense very well,” Manning said. “So whatever role the coaches decide that he’s going to play, he’ll be prepared for.”

Regardless of how the Giants line up at running back, they will have to deal with a Broncos defense that stymied the Ravens to just 58 rushing yards and yielded just 10 second half points in the opener.

Manning noted that the speed the Broncos defense exhibited against the Ravens – even without linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Champ Bailey – poses a challenge to the Giants’ hopes of curbing their turnover problem.  

“(They) get to the quarterback, getting pressure on the quarterback, show some different looks. The defense is very fast,” Manning said. “They do a good job getting turnovers so I think we have to play smart. You have to play smart football and you can’t afford to turn the ball over and make mistakes. We have to execute very well.”

And as for the Giants defense, Coughlin pointed out that one of the most difficult aspects of playing against Peyton Manning is the patience and persistence that the 16-year pro exhibits throughout the course of a game – as evidenced by the five touchdowns he threw in the second half of his record-tying, seven-touchdown performance against the Ravens.

“Well, there’s not many superlatives left to describe the other night,” Coughlin said. “As I watched him play the other night the thing that struck me was his patience. They’ve done such a great job there on the second half. The points they scored there a year ago in the second half and then 35 there the other night.”

And, as Coughlin noted, the Giants’ defense will have to be on its toes throughout the game because of the elder Manning’s relentlessness.

“His relentless pressure that he puts on the defensive team, to the point where he’s not going to make a mistake when he knows that he’s perhaps getting closer to where he wants to be, so I was struck by that part of it,” Coughlin said.