Is Eli Manning the Top Quarterback in the NFC East?
Rankings and comparisons are a cornerstone of the NFL off season, and Eli Manning is a great subject for this discussion in particular. The New York Giants’ quarterback has put up two impressive campaigns back-to-back, and he still looks to be in a position to lead his team to the playoffs. Every other team in the NFC East also believes their quarterback possesses this important quality. Is Manning the best quarterback in his division, or has his team’s lack of success come to reflect the player under center?
New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning is the foundation around which his team is built. For the past 12 years, he has been the one common thread through championship seasons, disastrous games, and some memorable moments in franchise history. He still possesses a sporadic streak, where throws will go awry, receivers will not be on the same page, and the offense will sputter. Because of this, there is still a constant discussion about his true ability and his stance among the league’s best. While two Super Bowl rings may have desensitized football fans to his superior play, there is still room for discussion about his standing as a top flight quarterback.
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The New York Giants’ 2016 off season is nearly over. After months of speculative discussion and still yet to be realized predictions, players will once again take the field this week. Four of those players are quarterbacks from what some people call the NFL’s weakest division.
Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Kirk Cousins, and Sam Bradford are all poised to begin their respective seasons under center and with the full brunt of expectation squarely on their shoulders. They will be looked at to lead their team to victory and ultimately the playoffs, but will also be the first to have blame heaped on them if their teams are unsuccessful. With a Romo-less Dallas Cowboys team limping to a 4-12 record last year, a Cousins-led Redskins team scrapping their way to a playoff berth, and Sam Bradford’s Eagles committing a first round draft pick and millions of dollars to reserve quarterbacks, which quarterback is the “best” of this woeful division? The two time Super Bowl winning MVP who will end his career in the top ten of nearly every significant career passing category? Yes, it’s Eli Manning.
If you’re Tiki Barber, it’s not Eli Manning, and if you’re ESPN, it’s not Manning; even NJ.com says it is not Manning. Oddly enough, Dallas-based SportsDay says the problem is Manning.
This discussion is just a microcosm of the nuanced and intricate conundrum of a two-time Super Bowl MVP being ranked behind a talented quarterback, albeit one with only a single playoff win during his entire career. Regular season performance, play-making ability, and the fact that Romo may be a better player on paper than Manning are given for his placement ahead of Manning.
Where it counts on the field, Romo has been out performed in the most crucial games and regularly evenly matched in others. Romo’s regular season consistency and his ability to rise to a MVP like level to push his team to victory is another argument for the quarterback who has again, won one playoff game in his career.
The whole “availability ability” argument notwithstanding, because clearly Manning boasts a significant advantage in this department, the notion that Romo is a better regular season quarterback and has shown to be such, really has little basis in reality. Other than some regular season statistical advantages for Romo, Manning has regularly performed just as well, if not better than Romo on a regular basis.
Inside the Iggles
In terms of pure passing statistics, Manning has totaled 11 seasons with over 3,000 yards passing in his 12 NFL seasons, while Romo has managed only seven such seasons in 12 professional seasons. In two of Romo’s most “successful” regular seasons, 2007 and 2011, where he threw for 4,211 and 4,184 yards and tossed 36 and 31 touchdowns respectively, he was eliminated both times by the Eli Manning-led Giants. Even with a 13-3 record and tickets purchased for next week’s NFC Championship game, the Cowboys could not get past the Giants, who were riding the exceptional play of Eli Manning, and unlike Romo, plays at his best when his team needs it.
Eli’s greatest season, in terms of raising his level and willing his team to victory, was 2011, which still can be regarded as the greatest single season of quarterback play in the run to a Super Bowl victory. That season, Manning threw for 4,933 yards, the most ever in a season by a Super Bowl winning quarterback, not to mention more than in any season from Romo. Week 17 would be for the NFC East title and a trip to the playoffs, and while it seems to be forgotten by many people today, the Giants won that game, with the 25th ranked defense and the best quarterback in the NFC East.