All you need to do is say their names to NFL fans and you’ll receive very different reactions. “Talented young quarterback, a winner with unlimited potential,” seems to be the sentiment surrounding Ryan.
Fans typically react to Eli with a shake of the head and an initial scoff of some sort. “Peyton’s dim-witted younger brother, the guy can’t decide if he prefers throwing interceptions or game-winning touchdowns,” is the general inkling. Fair assessments or not, Eli is the veteran and the proud owner of a Super Bowl ring.
Having ventured into enemy territory this weekend, I found myself killing time at Penn Station by strolling around Madison Square Garden. This served as inspiration for several New York inspired stories that we’ll publish this week, starting with this one. As they say, keep your friends close but your enemies closer.
My brethren in New York City has proven, as usual, to have very strange opinions on the younger Manning. They laughed at my musings as to whether the Giants would be a better team with Ryan as their quarterback.
They were quick to cite Manning’s five fourth-quarter comebacks this season, but failed to realize that if he personally hadn’t turned the ball over 24 times, it wouldn’t have taken five fourth-quarter comebacks to squeak into the playoffs.
One Giants fan went so far as to tell me that Eli has never blown a meaningful game in his NFL career. Yes, let it sink in—digest that one…OK. For the record, aside from 2007 in which Eli won the Super Bowl, he’s made the playoffs on three other occasions: 2005, 2006 and 2008. In those three playoff appearances, Eli is 0-3, with one touchdown, six interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 54.
So onward with the Ryan comparison. These guys are especially fun to compare, as they’re both about 6’4'' and 218 pounds, so they’re working with very similar frames. Eli has now played eight NFL seasons to Ryan’s four—I’m going to compare them over the course of their respective careers, rather than on each quarterback’s first four seasons.
Let’s start by taking a look at their average season stats during their career thus far:
.579 winning percentage
58.4 completion percentage
82.1 QB rating
.693 winning percentage
60.9 completion percentage
Based off of these numbers, any Giants fan would be crazy not to prefer Matt Ryan as their QB as opposed to Eli—he’s simply been better. That said, we all know how much emphasis is put on playoff performance—where Eli is 5-3 with a ring and Matt Ryan is 0-3—given today's loss to the Giants.
Needless to say, I think it’s fair to call Matt Ryan the more talented quarterback. He’s also four years younger than Eli, so he’s got a lot of football left in front of him. But he’ll need to start having some success in the playoffs if he wants to look back at his NFL legacy one day and be considered a better player than Eli Manning.
Geoff Roberts is the Founder and Managing Editor of howiGit.com, a Boston sports blog.