New York Giants: All eyes on Eli Manning against Atlanta’s secondary

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is under the spotlight in the Big Apple and not for good reasons.

The New York Giants two-time Super Bowl MVP has struggled behind a poor offensive line and many are questioning how much the 37-year-old quarterback has left in the tank. First-year general manager Dave Gettleman spent the offseason retooling New York’s roster around Manning, believing No. 10 wasn’t the franchise’s biggest problem.

He may not be. The Giants continue to adjust their offensive line and already have three different starters from Week 1 slated to play Monday against the Atlanta Falcons. But while Manning may not be the team’s biggest issue, he remains a top concern.

New York Giants
New York Giants /

New York Giants

The 15-year veteran has always been inconsistent throughout his career. He has also proven himself one of the most clutch signal-callers of his generation, leading New York to two Super Bowl victories. The problem is Manning has become more inconsistent late in his career, and his last postseason win came during the team’s 2011 playoff run.

It’s not all No. 10’s fault. The Giants failed to address their offensive line for years, spending first-round draft picks on Justin Pugh and Ereck Flowers. Former G.M. Jerry Reese tried to fix Big Blue’s defense with a free agency spending splurge during the 2016 offseason, but it only resulted in a Wild-Card round loss against Green Bay.

Both the defense and offense have had their issues this season. The Giants have given up 30-plus points in three consecutive losses. However, the biggest topic of concern in New York is quarterback play.

Many Giants fans are already looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft. Some are hoping the team makes a trade or signs a notable free agent quarterback this offseason. For now, Manning remains the starter.

Now or Never

It’s up to Manning to make the most of his opportunities. He’s likely to have some on Monday night in Atlanta.

The Falcons have the league’s 29th ranked pass defense in terms of yards allowed. They have given up 16 touchdowns passes through the air and are clearly not the same defense without Keanu Neal and Deion Jones.

Monday’s game is not the first opportunity Manning has had this season to flourish through the passing game. The Giants quarterback had favorable matchups against the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles but failed to execute. The offensive line was terrible against Philadelphia, but Manning continued to miss some key throws.

He will once again have the chance to prove he belongs as a starter in this league Monday night. If his protection can hold up front, there should be no excuses. Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and a healthy Evan Engram should be able to find space against the Falcons secondary.

New York’s veteran quarterback is not taking the matchup lightly, via New York’s team website.

"“They’re a good scheme on defense. They don’t bring tons of pressure, but they will a little bit. So, they try to mix it up. They try to mix up their zone, their man, to keep you off balance. We just got to have plays that are good versus both of them. They’re mostly a single-high team (coverage). We’ll be prepared for everything. Just try to have different ways of getting the ball down the field. Different ways just to get the ball out on time, and get completions, and just try to stay out of those third-and-longs.”"

Manning has shown there are still glimpses of the old No. 10. His play against Houston and Carolina were perfect examples. At the same time, two good performances in six games is not something Giants fans want to hang their hat on.

Next. Giants must avoid another prime-time embarrassment. dark

That’s why all eyes will be on No. 10 Monday night. His doubters will want to brag about his diminished play in a loss,  while his supporters will boast he’s not done in an upset win.