Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
Looking for someone to blame for all that's gone wrong with the 0-5 Giants? Eli Manning, who has thrown 12 interceptions, including three in Sunday's 36-21 loss to the Eagles? The offensive line, which has failed to protect Manning adequately all season? A defense that has given up at least 31 points in each game, the first in Giants history to give up that many in five straight?
Tom Coughlin has a better idea: Put it all on him.
"The head coach is the guy that's responsible for the losses. People should shift [the blame] to me,'' Coughlin said Monday, a day after suffering yet another demoralizing loss. "I'm the head coach. Things aren't going the way they should.''
No, they're not. And like any good coach, Coughlin is willing to do whatever he can to try to right the ship, even if it means taking a bullet for his woefully ineffective team and telling critics to hold him responsible.
"I lose the games and [the players] win 'em,'' he said after Sunday's game.
If only it were that simple.
Coughlin surely is to blame for much of the poor performance, and he's right that the head coach is responsible for getting his team ready to play. He clearly has done a poor job in that regard, especially when you consider that his teams were no worse than 5-3 at the halfway mark in each of his previous nine seasons with the Giants.
But the problems are so complete that Coughlin is far from the only guilty party when it comes to dissecting the mess the Giants are in.
Start with Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP who has been turning the ball over like a rookie. He already has more interceptions in five games than he had in the entire 2008 season, and he's only three away from last year's total.
Coughlin himself was critical of his quarterback after Sunday's performance, which included interceptions on three straight drives in the fourth quarter and three penalties for intentional grounding. He called some of those plays "terrible'' and suggested Manning was trying to overcompensate for the myriad problems around him.
But after a sleep-deprived night's reflection, Coughlin was upset that Manning was taking the brunt of the criticism for the loss.
"We're maligning my quarterback today, but believe me, there's a bunch of things happening with that,'' Coughlin said. "Criticizing the quarterback for the outcome or for everything at the end of the game is not right.''
Actually, Coughlin sort of did just that after the game when he said, "It all comes down to the interceptions. Two of them were just almost unbelievable.''
Those two were converted into touchdowns by the Eagles, who turned a 22-21 lead into a 15-point advantage.
But nothing is going right for Coughlin's team, and it's not just Manning. The running game, beset by injury and inefficiency, is dead last in the NFL. And now starting tailback David Wilson, who scored a touchdown on the first series, is out with a neck injury.
There have been drops by all the wide receivers, most notably Hakeem Nicks, in the weeks leading up to Sunday, and Rueben Randle, who had a couple against the Eagles.
The offensive line has been hammered by injuries to guard Chris Snee and center David Baas, and the poor blocking is a direct link to the poor running game and awful pass protection.
The defense is in the midst of one of the most futile streaks in franchise history. It's an embarrassment.
Coughlin wants to take all the blame? Fine. But he's not the only one.
"When any player has a coach that can pretty much take the bullet, you do learn to respect that,'' linebacker Spencer Paysinger said. "The coaches can only put us in the right position, but it's up to the players to take the action. He can't put all the blame onto himself. He's a great coach, but some of the blame has to lie on the players.''
Plenty of blame to go around for everyone. The coach. The quarterback. The offense. The defense.
At 0-5, everyone's been awful.
Only one way to change it.
Just win a game.