Well, they’re still in it. It took a long, drawn-out Thursday night struggle against Washington to keep the Giants’ season alive, but they pulled it out. And it’s these types of games, no matter how ugly–and Thursday night games are not the prettiest–that could be the difference in the Giants making the postseason.
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Of course, the Giants needed that win to get their season going really, to keep their season alive. It’s important to remember Big Blue’s been right in every game they’ve played, and while losses are losses there is something to be said for their competitiveness.
Who’s helped keep these games so close? Well, you could look at a few players. Odell Beckham has certainly played a huge role. He’s just a star. I think Steve Spagnuolo’s defense deserves some credit, holding their own minus Jason Pierre-Paul, Jon Beason, and last night without Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But more than anyone, it’s Eli Manning.
Certainly not the boldest statement, but it is accurate. Eli’s kept the Giants in each of their first three games–making plays, limiting turnovers (yes, he had a big fumble against Atlanta, but it’s the NFL, defenses make good plays too), and he’s done it with a supporting cast that outside of Odell Beckham has been in my estimation well below average.
Maybe most impressive–Manning’s ramped up his play as his receivers drop balls, his running backs get short gains, and his offensive line tries to patch themselves together as a generally young, inexperienced unit. Manning’s posted a career-high completion percentage (64.8) and–for what it’s worth–quarterback rating (97.9) through the first three games, and still no picks. Shocking for a player who tossed 27 as recently as 2013.
Manning’s demonstrated composure and leadership as players have dropped pass after pass–including a usually sure-handed Larry Donnell–and has found ways to move the chains with Cruz injured and no reliable slot receiver roaming the field.
Odell Beckham is the Giants’ most talented player on both sides of the ball, and he will produce no matter who’s playing quarterback. But the offense runs through Eli Manning, and their success is solely contingent on the performance of their $84 million man.