Take a few minutes and watch this video clip from a few weeks ago on NFL Videos, because it gets to an important point that I’ve been trying to make about Eli Manning’s turnover numbers from last season and what can be done about it in 2011:
And there are a bunch of great points made here by everyone involved. Eli did have career numbers both in terms of offensive production and turnovers… one of the main reasons the Giants went 10-6 but missed the playoffs. When the notion of taking more sacks to cut down on turnovers was mentioned, Warren Sapp said 80% of the time when the QB takes a sack it kills a drive. So Eli taking more sacks and getting less production is counter intuitive, not to mention it opens himself up to getting hit more and possibly fumbling — a notorious problem for Manning when he goes to the ground.
But I especially liked where Colts OL Jeff Saturday was going with his suggestion for Eli Manning. What he was going to say before he was cut off was to hand the ball off to your running back and let him make a play if a sack is imminent, or if nothing has materialized with your route runners. Now of course, this is not a one size fits all solution, but by and large the Giants backfield needs to become even more of a safety outlet for Eli Manning going forward, whether its a pitch, dump off pass, or last gasp effort to not take a sack and kill the drive. Ahmad Bradshaw does extremely well in this role for the Giants, one of the reasons I think he needs to be catching more passes and serving as Eli’s outlet more often then he currently does. Check the video:
Bradshaw is so quick and elusive he will thrive in such system where Eli quickly settles into a read of the defense and can often hit #44 out of the backfield on a more consistent basis. Doing so may even start to soften up the coverage in the middle of the field where those tipped balls on 15-20 yard passes were such a problem. So in 2011, Eli needs to get focused on utilizing Bradshaw more often and check it down when it’s too tight of a throw into his receivers and tight ends.
So in the end I expect Bradshaw’s involvement as the starter improve. But in a perfect world hewould of course have better awareness of defenders trying to strip the ball from him — and I think we’ll need to see his ball protection improve this year right along with it.