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Thursday, November 8, 2012
Updated: November 10, 12:21 PM ET
Eli, Gilbride out to get O's woes fixed

By Ohm Youngmisuk
ESPNNewYork.com

Kevin Gilbride has seen Eli Manning play so well and pull out so many fourth-quarter comebacks in the last year and a half.

That's why when Manning isn't able to come through, it's an odd feeling.

"Was it jarring?" Gilbride, the Giants' offensive coordinator, said when asked about seeing his unit struggle in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh last Sunday. "Yeah, it was. There's no question about it."

Eli Manning
A suddenly struggling Eli Manning has thrown one touchdown pass in 14 quarters.

By Sunday's kickoff against the Cincinnati Bengals, Manning will have gone 21 days since he last threw a touchdown.

Remember that touchdown? It was the 77-yarder to Victor Cruz against Washington on Oct. 21. In fact, that game-winning score is Manning's only passing touchdown in his last 14 quarters.

Besides touchdowns, passing yards also have been hard to come by. Manning has passed for just 317 yards in the past two games combined against Dallas and Pittsburgh.

The Giants' offensive power outage has kept Manning, Gilbride and Tom Coughlin searching for solutions. One thing all three agree on is that the Giants don't need to make any major changes, but rather, subtle alterations. And they have to find a way to get back to their strengths.

"I don't think we have to go in and change everything we're doing," Manning said. "We're still in games in the fourth quarter.

"We've got to keep working. That's all you can do. It's not a time to say, 'Oh, we've got to change our offense, or we have to do this-and-that.' We've got to keep working and start making some plays."

The Giants started Monday by looking at what went wrong against Pittsburgh, when Manning completed just one of five passes for a yard and was sacked twice in the fourth quarter as the Giants went three-and-out in their final three possessions.

On Tuesday, Coughlin popped into the quarterbacks room, where Manning was busy trying to get back on track. He asked his quarterback if there was anything he could do to help the offense get out of neutral.

Manning suggested that they bring back a passing drill in which the reigning Super Bowl MVP works with his receivers in one-on-one reps against the Giants' corners.

The drill, which the team had gotten away from in practice recently, allows Manning to work on timing with his receiver, and chemistry like "reading [the receivers'] body language."

"It's just a matter of keep working, walking through things, talking through things," Manning said. "Our reactions to what we expect to get, go out there and we both have to be on the same page. I've got to read the body language of the receivers. We don't have to rewrite the book here."

Coughlin says one thing that will be a major boost to the offense is gaining more first downs. The Giants have gone a woeful 5 of 25 on third downs in the past two games.

Getting Cruz going on more short, intermediate routes -- his bread and butter - is a start.

"It's just a matter of getting the ball into my hands or in anyone's hands underneath," Cruz said. "The type of receivers we have, we can catch a short ball and take it 9, 10 yards for the first."

Cruz and Hakeem Nicks say defenses have been doubling them more with safety attention over the top no matter where they line up. They've also been going up against some pretty good defenses. Dallas ranked fifth and the Steelers were first against the pass when the Giants faced them.

In four games against teams with top-five pass defenses this season, Manning is averaging only 180.8 passing yards in those games, according to ESPN Stats and Info. In all other games, he averages 340.6 passing yards.

"They're kinda just putting both the safeties over us with the corner up front," Cruz said. "That means that somebody, whether it be the tight end or that third receiver, they're gonna have some one-on-one coverage.

"Teams are gambling and giving us that one-on-one, and we're going to need to take advantage of it," he added.

Gilbride, though, says this is nothing new.

"That's called two-deep," the offensive coordinator said. "That's been going on since last year when we were struggling running the ball. We were throwing the ball very well, and that was against two-deep. That's been going on for a long time."

Gilbride says he has been thinking about getting third wide receiver Domenik Hixon more involved. Tight end Martellus Bennett also could be an option.

Gilbride also admits that incorporating some more no-huddle has been a consideration.

"You don't want me to tip my hand, do you?" Gilbride said when asked about more no-huddle. "It's something you always talk about because it has been something good.

"Sunday, when we got the ball back with four minutes to go, and we didn't do anything, we were in that two-minute mode. It doesn't always work, but it has been something that we have been very good at, and hopefully we're going to recover and get back to that."

More than anything else, the Giants' playmakers need to make plays and win one-on-one battles. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw and Nicks have been hindered by injuries. A more effective running game will help Manning and make play-action more successful.

A more explosive Nicks opens up so much in the Giants offense as well. Gilbride and Manning believe they are not far off from returning to where they want to be.

"It is a couple of things that we need to do better, there's no question about it," Gilbride said. "Usually what you do to help resolve [a slump] is go back to the things that are at your core. We should eliminate any of those mistakes that were made doing some of the things that maybe you designed specifically to beat a particular opponent, which is why we've used the pass so proficiently in two-minute [offense]."

"But everybody has to play well for [Eli] to play well. It's not just him -- it's all of us, trust me. We all have to do a better job. It falls on my shoulders."