Did Eli question Rueben Randle’s route on fourth down attempt?

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has struggled to find consistent production when targeting wide receiver Rueben Randle.
Brad Penner/Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning almost always pins the blame for any interception or loss on himself, and you very rarely see him question the play of one of his teammates. After throwing an interception on a target to wide receiver Rueben Randle for a second week in a row, Manning dropped a subtle hint that he was not pleased with Randle’s effort on the critical fourth down play late in the fourth quarter of the team’s Week 13 loss to the New York Jets.

“It was the play we had run earlier in the year, we’ve had great success with it,” Manning said in his Monday meeting with the media. “They covered it well the way they tried to pass it off, the safety came down, and I would’ve had to work a second window or come back to my back on a route. But they got pressure, and I didn’t have that luxury.

"Still thought I could maybe hit Rueben (Randle) just kind of running by. The defender wasn’t looking at me, he was looking at Rueben. I thought Rueben could run by him and still possibly make the catch or get an interference call. Didn’t work out that way, though.”

Randle did not run through his route and by the defender. Instead, he stopped his route, and with nowhere to throw the football, Manning forced a pass that was intercepted.

Just one week earlier, Manning was intercepted in the endzone by a Redskins defensive back when targeting Randle. On this play, it looked like Randle also stopped his route. Randle was on the Giants’ sideline for the next series before later returning to the game.

After finishing the 2014 regular season with career highs in receptions (71) and yards (938), many expected Randle to take a leap forward in 2015. In a contract season with an unexpected opportunity to emerge as Manning’s No. 2 option because of the Victor Cruz injury, everything aligned for a big year. Instead, Randle has struggled to create separation, make contested catches and stay on the same page as Manning. He has just 533 yards receiving and four touchdowns on 42 receptions despite seeing constant single coverage as teams scheme to take away Odell Beckham Jr.

If Randle can’t make a major impact over the Giants’ final four games, it’s difficult to imagine the team re-signing him to a second contract this offseason. Considering Cruz’s 2016 salary cap number and his injury history, it seems likely that the Giants will once again be in the market for a wide receiver.

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