Easy Eli is the Giants’ all-time leader in passing yards, completed passes, and touchdowns. At one point, he started 210 consecutive regular season games which is the second longest streak in NFL history. There is also the matter of leading the Giants to two Super Bowl titles in a four-year stretch as underdogs.
Manning is entering his 15th NFL season and he still doesn’t get the respect deserves.
Some of the side-eye Manning has received throughout his NFL career can be justified by the numbers. Of the 70 quarterbacks who have attempted at least 1,000 passes since the 2004 NFL Draft, Manning ranks 44th in completion percentage, 38th in yards per attempt, and 41st in passing rating.
In spite of the constant criticism No. 10 has faced, at least two of his former teammates believe the Giants wasted the best years of Manning’s career by not surrounding him with enough talent.
Former offensive lineman Shaun O’Hara played seven seasons (2004-10) with Manning.
“They’ve wasted the last few years of Eli’s career, they’ve wasted his prime,” O’Hara said Saturday night at the second annual Landon Collins Charity Softball Game. “It’s been hard to sit and watch that happen. I’m glad to see that they found a way to correct it, but Eli can still play the game.”
Former defensive end Justin Tuck echoed O’Hara’s sentiments.
“I agree with him,” Tuck said. “We all know what Eli can do when he is healthy and when he has comparable athletes around him. I don’t think he had those. Anything other than that, you are just lying to yourself.”
The Giants have come up short in the offensive personnel department more than once in Manning’s tenure with the team. Their refusal to upgrade the offensive line is part of the reason why he spent most of last season running for his life. At the same time, he is 37 years old. He’s never missed a game due to injury but Father Time is undefeated.
Coaching/front office ineptitude notwithstanding, there have been moments when Manning has looked like a quarterback who has lost a step or two. That zip he used to have on the ball isn’t as sharp as it was once was. And yet, he still represents the Giants’ best chance at victory on Sunday afternoons.
The critics don’t mention that seven of the Giants’ eight playoff victories with Manning behind center came on the road. They also forget the victories in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI were against heavily favored New England Patriots teams, including their Eighteen & One 2007 run.
They can quibble over whether or not Manning deserved the Super Bowl MVP awards, but it doesn’t change that the only other players with multiple Super Bowl MVPs are recognized solely by their last names: Starr, Bradshaw, Montana, Brady.
Manning has thrown for 51,682 yards (sixth in NFL history) and 339 touchdowns (eighth in NFL history). Going back to the 70 quarterbacks with at least 1,000 attempts since 2004, Manning is 18th in touchdown rating and 30th in career winning percentage. One cannot put up these numbers without some modicum of ability.
This does not excuse some of the WTF plays Manning has been guilty of throughout his career. There were moments when he was let all the way down by a receiver. There were also moments where he made a throw or did something that made fans (and perhaps even his teammates and coaches) scratch their heads.
Manning has looked good this spring. He’s been throwing the ball exceptionally well. This is good news but it’s June 11 and there’s no steep autumn wind to be concerned with today in East Rutherford. No. 10 has been his usual, steady, reliable self through the organized team activities and this is expected to continue once the three-day mandatory mini-camp begins on Tuesday.
Manning’s former teammates are correct in that the team failed to maximize his talent during moments of his physical prime. His resume is Canton-worthy as is but all fans remember is the dumpster fire that was the 2017 New York Giants season. Another deep postseason run may be able to silence some of the critics and make the final chapter of Eli Manning’s NFL story a positive one.