New York Giants: 5 Things to Take Away from Eli Manning's Preseason Performance
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For Eli Manning of the New York Giants, this preseason has given indications that he is both ready and not ready to take on one of the most difficult challenges in sports. That challenge, of course, is leading his team in the defense of its Super Bowl title.
An experienced quarterback like Manning uses the preseason to work with his receivers and doesn't allow his performance to get to him. Furthermore, the limited playing time starters get in preseason games gives a limited sample size to examine.
However, the limited time starters do see allows for insight into their form and the relationships they are establishing or developing with their teammates.
Manning has played in two games thus far and has yet to throw a touchdown while throwing one interception and completing half of his passing attempts.
1. Beware of Mistakes
Eli Manning after throwing an interception
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Eli may have thrown only one interception so far, but it was a bad one. Against the New York Jets, Manning fired a pass directly into the hands of Laron Landry.
Had Eli been trying to pass the ball to Landry, he couldn't have made a better throw.
Preseason interceptions are very common, but this one worries fans. It is reminiscent of the old Eli and shows that his mistakes aren't entirely gone.
That kind of throw is unacceptable and Tom Coughlin has to be hoping it's only a preseason mistake and not the return of Eli's occasionally baffling judgement.
2. Mistakes Don't Get to Him
Eli Manning celebrating a touchdown
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What has made Eli Manning into an elite quarterback is his capacity to remain calm in pressure situations and move on from his mistakes quickly.
He may have thrown 16 interceptions last season, but he also threw for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns. The difference between his game six years ago and his game today is he no longer makes mistakes in clutch situations, but also that he no longer lets his mistakes lead to further errors.
The good news for Giants fans is Manning doesn't seem to have lost that ability.
He only had one attempt following his interception, so he didn't have time to bounce back from that play, but he did complete his next three passes following a couple of incompletions on two separate occasions against the Jets.
If Eli is able to continue to play with ice in his veins, very few defenses will be able to stop him for long.
3. Connection with Cruz Remains Strong
Victor Cruz catching a pass from Eli Manning
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Last season, Victor Cruz had 82 receptions for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. These astounding numbers made him one of the more productive receivers in the league as well as one of the breakout stars of the season.
Those numbers were an obvious result of his improved chemistry with his quarterback as well as his obvious talent.
To the delight of Tom Coughlin, it seems that chemistry has remained intact this offseason.
Despite playing less than one complete game together, Manning and Cruz have already hooked up for six receptions and 79 yards.
Their continued success together will be crucial to the success of the New York Giants.
4. No Real Connection with Barden
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The departure of Mario Manningham in the offseason means there is a slot open at receiver behind Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.
For a while, Ramses Barden seemed destined to win the role of third receiver, but he has yet to create any form of connection with Eli Manning. Through two games, despite playing with the starting unit, Barden has hauled in just one catch for 14 yards.
If he is unable to gel with the starters quickly, he is at serious risk of seeing either rookie Rueben Randle or Jerrel Jernigan pass him on the depth chart.
5. Can't Count on Offensive Line
New York Giants Offensive Line
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If there is one group of guys a quarterback needs, it's his offensive line. Unfortunately for Manning, it seems his line will be a legitimate concern this season.
Manning is a quarterback capable of stepping up in the pocket, but he certainly isn't amongst the most mobile players in the league. When you combine that with the fact that Brandon Jacobs is no longer around to pound into the line, it becomes apparent how important the offensive unit is to Eli.
At this point, though, the unit has yet to step up. It allowed several significant hits on Manning against the Jets and was unable to establish a solid running game. If it can't get it together by the time Big Blue open the season, it's going to be a long one for Peyton's little brother.