Tom Coughlin wants to see Eli Manning’s uniform get a little dirtier this season. Mud stains on the back of a jersey are easier to get out than the ones on the stat sheet.
Speaking at the media breakfast at the NFL owners’ meeting in New Orleans this morning, Coughlin was asked about the 25 interceptions that Manning threw in 2010. While Coughlin pointed to the number of tipped balls that were turned into picks, he also suggested that there are times when Manning needs to duck and cover rather than chuck and turn it over.
“He's a great student of the game, he wants the ball," Coughlin said to James Varney of the Times-Picayune. “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.
“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 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.”
Of course, if Manning had taken the sack late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII, well, let's just say that the name David Tyree would not be as well-known as it is today.
Coughlin was also asked about the tendency of his teams to falter at the end of the season (with 2007 being the great exception, of course). He did not have much of an answer.
"That's what we're trying like heck to investigate and figure out," he said.
Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald Tweeted that Coughlin also said he has 10 of the 12 OTAs mapped out and ready to be put to use. Of course, he just has to wait to see if there are any OTAs at all this offseason.