Eli Manning knows he must cut down on the career-high 25 interceptions next season.
Tom Coughlin suggests that maybe if his quarterback takes more sacks, Manning might throw fewer interceptions.
“He's a great student of the game, he wants the ball," Coughlin told the New Orleans Times-Picayune at the NFL owners meeting in New Orleans. "He wants to be that type of hero. The guy works so hard. We don't have many sacks, he's a big part of that. He doesn't let it happen, but sometimes in doing that you put the ball in a precarious circumstance. Sometimes take the ball and go down. And I think that's something we've got to do a better job of coaching and understanding that.”
The Giants only surrendered a league-low tying 16 sacks this past season. Coughlin says he doesn’t want to diminish Manning’s competitive nature to make a play. But Coughlin doesn’t want to see Manning throw an interception because he was trying to make something out of nothing.
"You don't ever want to take a guy's, whatever you want to call that, the will to make plays, the competitive spirit, you don't want to do anything to that,” the Giants coach said. “But you have to, in that split second, you've got to try to enforce on that occasion sometimes a better judgment. Like for example, maybe it's 12 interceptions and a few more sacks, which wouldn't hurt our football team at all. That's where it has to start for us."
During the 2009 season, Manning was sacked 30 times but he threw just 14 interceptions. But more sacks doesn’t always equate fewer interceptions since Manning was sacked 27 times during the 2007 season and he still threw 20 interceptions.
More sacks also increases the risk of injury for Manning, who has started 103 consecutive games. The bottom line, though, is that Manning will have to make better decisions.
“Yes, there's some bad decisions," Coughlin said. "At the beginning of the year last year we probably had, conservatively, four, five six tipped ball interceptions. I mean, guys who got their hands on balls and guys who are exceptional receivers. We all know you throw the ball over the middle and it gets tipped it's going the other way.”
"There's areas where we've all got to get better," Coughlin added. "There were times we didn't run the ball the way we say we can run the ball or want to run the ball. So I'm just saying there's a lot of areas that need to be improved. And we had 17 fumbles, too! We've got to take care of the ball better."
Coughlin said he and his staff are examining everything to see why the Giants have gotten off to great starts only to fizzle down the stretch the past two years.
“That's what we're trying like heck to investigate and figure out," Coughlin said. "You know, there's been factors involved. Everybody has injuries, we have them, too."