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Eli Manning remains confident: 'I know I can play'

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Eli Manning is Artax from The Neverending Story sinking in the Swamp of Sadness.

A once great and much-loved horse slowly dissolving into the mud, his demise inevitable, painful. Giants fans, like Atreyu, can only run through the gambit of emotions, from denial, to bargaining, to anger, to wallowing in sadness watching the expiration.

Coming off a game in Carolina where Manning and the Giants offense finally showed some life, it was back to the muck for Big Blue's offense Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Manning completed 24 of 43 passes (55.8 percent) for 281 yards, took four sacks and threw an interception for a 66.1 QB rating.

"Obviously not where we want to be. I'm not happy about it," Manning said after the 34-13 loss. "I am frustrated like everyone. Obviously, all you can do is worry about the next game. That is the way football works. Watch this game, learn from it, see what we can do better, work on it and get ready to play next Monday night in Atlanta."

Manning's play was worse than his rudimentary stats. Much of his 281 yards came on dump offs to Saquon Barkley. Manning completed just two passes beyond 7.2 air yards all night. Of his 24 completions, 11 came behind the line of scrimmage, and an additional eight were less than five air-yards.

For Manning, a third-down checkdown has become more predictable than a delay on the MTA.

At one point during Thursday's broadcast, Giants coach Pat Shurmur was caught by FOX cameras seemingly frustrated after Manning threw behind the line of scrimmage three straight times when the Giants had a first-and-20. After the game, the coach brushed off the moment.

Shurmur added he's not worried about Manning.

"No, I'm not concerned about Eli," Shurmur said. "Like I said, none of us did anything good enough to win tonight."

Shurmur backed up those words Friday by saying the team wasn't considering a change at quarterback. "We believe in Eli," he said.

The response from Shurmur isn't surprising. The last Big Blue coach lost his job after taking passive-aggressive swipes at the two-time Super Bowl MVP and benching the QB. Shurmur isn't going to rake shots at Manning publicly.

That doesn't mean his blood isn't boiling behind closed doors.

Manning's arm might not be as deteriorated as some believe, but the QBs lack of trust in his offensive line is debilitating. Yes, the Giants blockers stink. At times Manning has but a blink to make a decision. The consistent pressure, however, has gotten in his head. Even when he has time, he either checks down too quickly, not allowing downfield routes to develop, or he tosses a wayward ball. He completed 3 of 15 attempts for 54 yards on dropbacks in which he had 2.51 seconds or more to pass, per Next Gen Stats. Multiple times Thursday night, Manning sailed an uncatchable pass down the sideline.

Whereas he once drove a beautiful ball to Mario Manningham on the boundary during the Giants' second Super Bowl win over the Patriots, Manning now floats those passes out of bounds, either unable to punch the ball into a window or not trusting his arm enough to do so.

"I think we try and have some shots down the field and just taking what they were playing," Manning said. "Protecting and having some tight ends protecting and throwing it down the field. They played a lot of two zone. The route combination that we had going, try and get completions and get good down and distance. I think we took a couple of shots and didn't hit them. I had a go route to Odell down the left sideline that we missed. I took one to Cody that we converted on in the two-minute. Just took a couple of shots down field and had opportunities."

Aside from Manning's lack of trust in his blocking, the QB is almost quite literally stuck in the mud. Watching Manning and Carson Wentz on the same field provided a stark contrast between a quarterback who can't move away from rushers, and one that repeatedly dances away from defenders. Whereas Wentz can extend the play and making a throw on the run, Manning is a sitting duck forced to get the ball out quick or risk being cut in half.

Manning's inability to press the ball into tight windows, aversion to risk-taking, distrust in his blockers, and immobility, coupled with poor offensive line play has rendered a potentially explosive cast of weapons inoperative.

Despite the evidence against him, Manning insists he hasn't lost confidence in his play or teammates.

"My confidence in myself is good. I know I can play," he said. "I just have to figure out how to be more consistent and be better on offense."

He needs to figure it out fast before the entire fan base revolts.

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