Revisiting the Giant trade of 2004

Revisiting the Giant trade of 2004
In 2004, the San Diego Chargers selected Eli Manning No. 1 overall; the Giants selected Philip Rivers No. 4, and the teams traded one for the other (the Chargers haul included Rivers, Merriman, and Nate Kaeding). So who got the better end of the deal?
The obvious answer is the Giants, led by Eli Manning, the Superbowl winners of 2007 (knocking off the undefeated Patriots led by the fabulous Tom Brady and the guru himself, Bill Belichik). But, a closer look at Eli and Philip is necessary when passing judgment on this infamous trade.
Let’s focus on the playoffs, which is the only thing that truly matters when measuring success for quarterbacks (while McNabb and Romo are both pro bowl quarterbacks, and McNabb is likely to be a Hall of Famer when it is all said and done, I have a feeling that Eagles and Cowboys fans would prefer a Superbowl championship instead of pro bowl appearances), so here we go.
Let’s look at Rivers in the playoffs: 8 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and a completion percentage of 58.5%. Now for Eli: 8 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and a completion percentage of 58.5%. Interesting. Let’s look a bit further. Rivers is 3-4 in the playoffs, Eli is 4-3 in the playoffs. Wow, pretty even until we get blinded by Eli’s championship ring, right?
Both Manning and Rivers are in the prime of their careers (Rivers coming off another pro bowl season and Eli having enjoyed the finest statistical season of his career). Two years ago, we would have objectively declared the Chargers winners of the 2004 trade, calling Rivers and Manning about even and than factoring in Merriman and pro bowl kicker Nate Kaeding, but now, I am not so sure I give the nod to the Bolts. Merriman is a shadow of the player that terrorized the league during his first two seasons and has made more headlines for his involvement with Tila Tequila (I can assure you that this will be the only time in the history of this blog that you will see the name Tila Tequila) than his play on the football field; Kaeding has twice kept the Chargers from advancing in the playoffs due to untimely missed kicks (note the to the Bolts and to the Cowboys, having a kicker who can withstand the mental challenges of playoff football is very important).
So, for me, the 2007 Superbowl title makes the Giants clear winners of the 2004 Rivers/Manning trade. Take nothing away from Rivers, he is a stud QB in his prime, but so is Eli, and Eli’s ring finger is just a tad bit heavier. Give me Manning.

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  • Rebut

    Eli Manning has never been a stud. He’s been competent at times, and mediocre a lot of other times.

    The Giants was not won by some heroic effort by Eli. It was mostly a great pass rush and sustained running offense.

    You’re argument narrows QB analysis down to playoff stats, a superficial and limited way of determining a QB’s ability. By relating QB playoff stats to wins, you minimize the role of other units involved in a given win and you shed no qualitative light on the way the QBs actually played. Also, the NFL is only a 16 game league; games are competitive, you face tough teams and you’re still playing at a pro-level, so to dismiss that in your breakdown seems weird. Of course you wouldn’t include comparable regular season stats since they would show Rivers is clearly superior. This is one of many other issues your article doesn’t take into account.

    One to One, Rivers is easily a superior QB. He is known for making the some of the most intermediate to deep passes in the league, as well as being perhaps the most unflappable QB in the pocket. The latter is in stark contrast to Eli, whose career as a starter came into question during a 5 TO game before the 07 playoff run (against MIN). When he faces pressure defenses such as the Eagles’, its common for Eli to make poor decisions (NFC divisional playoffs 09).

    Questions about Manning’s leadership and role with his teammates remain to this day. Rivers has grown into the Chargers unquestioned leader. From the AFC championship with the torn ACL, to his play throughout his flawless, overlooked 2008 season, he has stood tall in the pocket and has stamped his role as the fearless leader of his team.

    Other Eli backers also suggest he’s more clutch. But they have a comparable number of game winning drives- 16-14 in favor of Eli- despite the fact Eli has played two more seasons.

    These simple points suggest Manning is not as tough, nor is he much of a leader in comparison. He is not really as accurate, and doesn’t make as many impressive throws. His on-field product is not as good.

    Finally, the passing offense isn’t what propelled NYG to the superbowl. While he played impressively, it was other units that got really hot for NYG, namely the pass rush and the run game. Those bloggers that argue that Manning won the ring and is therefore better than Rivers expose themselves for being the less thoughtful analysts that they are. QB play isn’t the sole determining factor to a Superbowl victory. Moreover, a superbowl does not mean that the winning QBs ability is automatically superior to a non-winning QBs ability (or intangibles).

    Your article really sucked Graziano.

  • GiantsCauseway

    Eli is not the kind on QB that will put a team on his back. His job in this offense is not to make the fatal error that kills the team, ie. the interceptions against the Beagles in the playoffs 2008. Eli had his best statistical season in 2009, it wouldn’t be wrong to say he “quietly” had his best statistical season.

  • Paul Graziano


    Here is the deal my man, statistics are mis-leading; the only thing that matters is playoff success, and Eli has enjoyed more of it than Rivers. I prefer Eli in crunch time, as he performed on the biggest stage against the biggest odds. Rivers is a fine quarterback, certainly more accurate and better statisticly, but I think Eli is just coming into his own and I would rather have the ball in Eli’s hands at the end of the game than Rivers, that is all I am saying. The real deal purpose of this article is to examine the 2004 trade, my point is that the trade is even (Philip and Eli are both very good quarterbacks), but with Merriman’s struggles and Nate Kaeding choking in the playoffs, and in consideration of the Giants superbowl win with Eli at the helm, I think the Giants come out on top of this trade. We can agree to disagree, but the article certainly did not suck, lol.

  • Paul Graziano

    Giants Causeway,
    I argue that Eli did put the team on his back this past year; the running game took more than a step backwards, the pass blocking also declined a bit, and Eli battled injuries for part of this season (oh, and the Giants receivers were the biggest question mark heading into the season). So, what did Eli do? He helped get the most out of a very young wide receiver core while the defense was a shadow of its former, agressive and dominant self, while putting up career numbers. I do agree that I would rather Eli play more of a game manager role, complemented by a brutalizing run game and a solid defense, and hopefully that will be the case in 2010, but, Eli clearly raised his game when the Giants needed him most in 2009.