Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
In his tenth professional season, veteran (and two-time Super Bowl MVP) Eli Manning performed like a panicked rookie signal caller. Manning came under pressure on 40.3% of his drop-backs, but 17 of his interceptions came in a relatively “clean” pocket. He finished up with a 69.4 NFL QB Rating, his 27 interceptions led the league by a wide margin, and his completion efficiency was 0.1% higher than Terrelle Pryor. Statistics can’t even fully illustrate the on-field product. Backfoot — heave — and pray.
Victor Cruz topped the regulars with a WR Rating of 86.1, but his productivity was well below expected standard. Cruz ranked 18th in slot performance among qualified wideouts, catching 43 of 68 targets for 561 yards and three touchdowns. Contrast those figures to last year where he caught 58 balls for 867 and eight scores out of the slot.
15 of Manning’s picks were intended for either Hakeem Nicks (58.0 WR Rating) or Rueben Randle (67.1 WR Rating). Randle utilized his skills after the catch — 5.1 YAC per reception — to carve out chunk gains and find his way into the end zone six times. Nicks’ biggest play came on a Hail Mary that fell ten yards short of the promised land.
Jerrel Jernigan played himself into a prominent 2014 role in the final three weeks. He caught 19 passes and totaled three touchdowns, looking the part of security blanket that Manning was missing all season. Perhaps we’ll see Cruz more on the outside next year, with a heavy dose of Jernigan in the slot.
Tight end Brandon Myers was a non-factor in the passing game and atrocious in run blocking. The trash is heap is the preferred tight end repository for the G-men, rather than forcing a move based on talent.