He led his team to victory in what was arguably the greatest game ever played. He was the MVP of Super Bowl XLII. This season, he moved up one slot, overtaking Charlie Conerly, to become #2 on the New York Giants‘ Top Ten Passers list. Why then were so many fans calling for the head of Eli Manning at season’s end?
An abundance of interceptions can easily stir up the “angry mob” mentality amongst football fans. Manning led the league in interceptions this season and told the media, the day after the New York Giants’ disappointing season finale, ”
I am not a 25 interception quarterback.”
That is the exact number of times he threw the ball into the opposition’s hands, however. Manning went on to say,
“I think obviously that’s got to be fixed. We have to fix that. That’s on me, the receivers, and everybody doing that, but most of it’s on me.”
For the second straight year the New York Giants did not earn a seed in the playoffs. The 2009 New York Giants finished at 8-8. Despite a disheartening season, and a team gone bust, Eli Manning managed to have the best statistical season of his career. This year Manning and the Giants had their fair share of opportunities to solidify a playoff berth but could not bring it all together. Once more, Eli Manning was able to pull together another impressive block of stats, making the 2010 season the second best of his career.
In week 17, against the Washington Redskins, Eli connected with Mario Manningham on a 92 yard touchdown pass. It was the longest pass of the NFL season. It may come as a surprise to some to learn that Eli Manning finished in the top 5 in a few categories. He finished 3rd in TD passes (31), 5th in passing yards (4,002), 3rd in passes 20+ yards (57) and of course, 1st in longest pass thrown. He was tied, with his brother Peyton, for the 2nd least sacked quarterback in the NFL. An interesting and totally useless factoid – the least sacked QB holds the 4th most passing yards record within the Giants organization, Kerry Collins.
Here are Eli’s stats on the year:
QB RATING: 85.3
Now 30 years old and heading into his 8th season, Manning has become one of the franchise’s top leaders. Although #10 has been to and won a Super Bowl, has 5+ years of experience under his belt and is considered one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks it seems that Eli Manning has not yet reached his full potential. That is good news for Giants fans and potentially bad news for Quarterbacks Coach Mike Sullivan. Sullivan, who spent the previous six years coaching the wide receivers, made the transition to QB coach this season, after Chris Palmer retired. Palmer coached Manning to the Super Bowl in 2007. It is worth pointing out here that Eli was tied for 1st with the most interceptions thrown in that season.
The Giants had the second best offensive line of the year. Manning was sacked minimally. Is the offensive line the reason? To a degree, yes. What is puzzling is the decision making of Eli Manning when the pressure is on and a sack is eminent. Far too often, we have seen him try to get rid of the ball to avoid a sack but in the process causing a bigger problem, such as an interception. A QB coach can only teach so much. Split second decision making is not something that can be taught. It is a skill. It is a talent. rest assured that Tom Coughlin and the Giants organization will do everything within their power to cut down on these turnover/interception issues. Eli Manning threw more interceptions in 2010 than he did in 2008 and 2009 combined. That is a pretty good indicator that Mike Sullivan may be out of a job.
It is a truly amazing thing watching Eli Manning at work at time. It is also completely frustrating at others. He shows signs of true brilliance when he is “in the zone.” Then he strays far from his happy place and what comes next is enough to make you wonder how in the world he made it into the pros at all. Manning is surrounded by one of the most talented receiving corps in pro football. Unfortunately, many of them went down to injury this season and left him to work with many who were not familiar with the offensive scheme. A great offensive line will give a QB the time he needs to produce. A roster of receivers that is made up of the injured and confused can make any QB look like a high school rookie.
In lieu of the obstacles that the New York Giants and Eli Manning had to over come in 2010, he still was able to record a personal second best. The Giants will continue to invest in their offensive line. They have to keep their franchise QB protected. But they should start looking into their contingency plan. The backup QB’s have a combined 17 years of experience. Sage Rosenfels is 32 years old with 10 years of experience. Jim Sorgi, who spent a great deal of his season on injured reserve, is 30 years old and has 7 years behind him. If Eli were to go down, could either of these two QB’s step in and lead this team to something bigger than just a check mark in the win column?
This marks the second consecutive year that Eli Manning has thrown for over 4,000 yards. That is something that Tom Brady has NEVER done and something Brett Favre has only done ONCE in his 20 years in the NFL. Make no mistakes Giants fans, Eli Manning IS the QB of this team and isn’t going anywhere for a very long time. When he finishes his career with the Giants, he will have broken every record held by a Big Blue QB, that he hasn’t topped already. So, why were there cries for Eli’s head by disgruntled Giants fans? Well, sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the trees.