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Jones: New Coordinator Alone Won’t Fix Eli Manning, Giants’ Offense

Eli Manning (Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)

Eli Manning (Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)

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By Kimberly Jones
» More Columns

Sending Kevin Gilbride into retirement won’t fix all that ails the New York Giants’ offense.

Sure, it might be time for a new voice. Change, after a decade of mostly stability, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. (Or a good thing, either.) And after John Mara described the Giants’ offense as “broken” a week ago, we knew the status quo wasn’t going to fly.

But bringing in a new offensive coordinator will only go so far. It will not ensure better execution or fewer turnovers and injuries. And it will not, in and of itself, fix Eli Manning.

An opponent that scouted Manning in 2012 described him as “shell-shocked” and having little confidence. The common refrain is that the offensive line is largely to blame, and it certainly bears some responsibility.

But the offensive line was not solely responsible for Manning throwing 27 interceptions. It just wasn’t.

Yes, Manning was hit — often under pressure — and sacked 39 times. 10 quarterbacks, including Ryan Tannehill (58), Joe Flacco (48), Russell Wilson (44), Cam Newton (43), Ben Roethlisberger (42) and Tom Brady (40) were sacked more often. And not one of them threw more than 22 picks, as Flacco did. (Wilson and Brady each threw nine.)

Manning’s durability, competitiveness and clutch play are among the best attributes on his considerable resume. He’s also accountable, which teammates appreciate.

But he’s beginning another important offseason, similar to when he said after the 2010 season, “I’m not a 25-interception quarterback.”

Of course, the 2011 season turned out all right for the Giants. They can only hope for a similar improvement this time around.

On Rex: If I’m Rex Ryan, here’s how I handle not getting the long-term contract extension I want.

Embrace it. Completely.

Why not? Ryan always has been a little unconventional, as if you haven’t noticed. His players unfailingly play hard for him and have his back. But next season will be his sixth as Jets coach, and the past three have not included a playoff game. It’s understandable, and prudent, that Woody Johnson isn’t willing to pony up a big deal right now.

So Ryan’s best tact is to coach it out as if his coaching life depends on it — the Jets should be better next season at quarterback and after assimilating seven new starters on defense in 2012 — and then seek the big contract extension after playing in the postseason a year from now. How does that sound, Jets fans?

The Super Bowl countdown continues: The recent cold — frigid? unbearable? — temperatures may, or may not be, providing a preview of what we’ll see on Super Bowl Sunday at MetLife Stadium. And Feb. 2 is coming quickly.

In the opening weekend, San Francisco, San Diego and New Orleans all won on the road, all playing in cold-weather sites. (Wouldn’t it be something if the No. 6 seeds, San Diego and the Saints, played in the big game?)

Perhaps Colts defensive tackle Cory Redding, whose team played in a comfy dome on Saturday, best described the challenge of weather: “You just deal with it. That’s football. You can’t stop Mother Nature, you just have to adjust to her. We’ve been practicing all out in elements all year long for cold teams, and sometimes just because.

“Because we know (if) we want to be in February in New York, we have to adjust to the cold. Don’t complain and moan about it. Get your cold gear on and your warm skin and get your hoodies and go out there and let’s play some football. That’s just what it is. You got to deal with the cold from here on out. Whether it’s New England, Denver or MetLife Stadium, you just got to deal with it.”

Incredible Luck: In a quiet moment, Chuck Pagano reflected on his quarterback, Andrew Luck.

“Right when you see a throw you think you might never see again, five or 10 plays later, you see another ‘wow’ play,” the Colts’ head coach said. “He’s just loaded with them.”

You don’t say?

If you’re wondering, those were Pagano’s thoughts during training camp in August. But nothing has changed. Especially following the Colts’ wild wild-card win on Saturday over the Chiefs.

“When Andrew picks that ball up and finds a way — only like Andrew Luck can do — and scores a touchdown,” Pagano said after the game, “that was incredible.”

Yes, it was, as Luck recovered a Donald Brown fumble that caromed fortunately off the center’s helmet. What do they say about making your own luck?

As a rookie, Luck led seven fourth-quarter comebacks. This season, he lived up to his preseason goals to cut down on interceptions (he cut them in half, to nine) and to improve his completion percentage (he did so by six percent, to 60.2).

The win over the Chiefs provided a signature moment, as Indianapolis erased a 28-point deficit with Luck firing lasers.

“He’s always been a different animal in the fourth quarter, his whole life,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson told my NFL Network colleague, Albert Breer. “… It’s like (Michael) Jordan when he’d take that last shot — he wants the ball.”

Pagano often describes Luck as having “it,” one of those immeasurable qualities that you want a leader to have. Is anyone going to argue with that?

Here’s the only problem with the way wild-card weekened turned out: Wasn’t everyone hoping to see Luck visit Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the divisional round? Everyone but Manning, that is.

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