At times, quarterback Eli Manning looked every bit of 36 years old. He completed 61.6 percent of his passes but threw 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Manning also saw his 210 regular season consecutive start streak end when former head coach Ben McAdoo benched him in a futile attempt to save his job. Meanwhile, the Giants led the NFL in dropped passes after losing three of their top four wide receivers to season-ending injuries.
As he enters his 15th season, No. 10 has more on his mind than just padding his Hall of Fame stat line.
“Obviously, it has been an unbelievable run, but I want to continue doing it. It’s not over,” Manning said in an interview with the NFL Network’s Kim Jones. “I know that…I’m excited for this upcoming year and really prove that I can still play at a high level. We can win games. We can win championships.”
Manning’s confidence comes from the team addressing perhaps their most blaring deficiency from last season: the offensive line. They also added running back Saquon Barkley, regarded by many experts as the 2018 NFL Draft’s most talented player. His confidence also comes from the fact that the new regime believes in him because they bypassed a number of quarterback prospects in the draft to select Barkley.
Manning counts $22.2 million against the Giants’ salary cap in 2018 and will become a free agent after the 2019 season. However, he is not thinking beyond the upcoming campaign.
“This league, it’s one year at a time,” Manning said at the start of the team’s voluntary offseason workouts. “That’s kind of how it goes. I need to go out there and play well this, and that’s all I’m looking forward to.”
Two former Giants, offensive lineman Shaun O’Hara and defensive end Justin Tuck, are of the opinion that the team wasted Manning’s prime by not surrounding him with enough talent. Both players believe that Manning will have a great season.
“I’m happy to see what the Giants have done to try to help him out and go all-in,” O’Hara said. “We’ve got a nice window here to go win some games. The one question that everybody has in the game of football: Can our quarterback win the game in the fourth quarter? Eli can do that.”
Tuck used a historical perspective to express his confidence in Manning.
“I can only talk toward history,” Tuck said. “History tells me that every time Eli has been doubted, every time he has been put in situations like this, not only has he responded but the team has responded as well. That’s what I’m hoping for.”