It's Eli Manning or bust as far as Tom Coughlin is concerned.
The Giants coach remained steadfastly planted behind his quarterback as he answered questions for the second straight day about the possibility of benching Manning in the wake of the most disappointing stretch of play in his career.
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"He's the guy," Coughlin said Thursday. "We're going to win again with Eli."
The subject was first raised Wednesday on a conference call with Vikings reporters, and Coughlin had to ask to make sure he heard the question correctly. On Thursday, he was asked what he thought about that query.
"Like many of the questions I get, you would not want to know what I think," he said with a smirk.
But Coughlin was further pressed, asked if there might be a benefit to sitting Manning for a half, or maybe a quarter.
"Not in my opinion, no," he said. "I don't see it, no."
That also was the overwhelming response in the locker room, where the players stood by their Mann. Some were more stunned than others to hear the calls for their quarterback's hide.
"This city doesn't surprise me at all, the media doesn't surprise me," Victor Cruz said, missing the fact that it was those tame Midwesterners in Minnesota who ignited the almost absurd discussion.
Even backup quarterback Curtis Painter, who would benefit the most from a benching, said Manning should keep his job. "Eli is our quarterback and I think he's doing a great job and he'll continue to do a great job," Painter said.
Painter seemed shocked when the idea of taking over for the two-time Super Bowl MVP was broached. "I don't know how I would act," he said. "I'd hopefully be ready if that came about . . . [but] I don't think we have to worry about that."
No one seems to be, least of all Manning.
"I haven't heard it," Manning said of the calls for his job, faint though they are. "I'm trying to go out there and do my job and compete and try to get a win."
Coughlin said he speaks routinely with Manning about the troubles he's encountered this season. Through the 0-6 start, he has thrown 15 interceptions, an average of 2.5 per game. The NFL single-season record is 42, set by George Blanda in 1962 with the Houston Oilers.
"We talk about some of the issues, some of the problems we've had and how we'll handle that going forward," Coughlin said. "Usually it's a pat on the back and let's see if we can change this around."
Manning did say he is grateful that his coach continues to have confidence in him. As for Coughlin's remark that the Giants will "win again with Eli," Manning could only concur.
"I feel the same way."