New York Giants: Comparing 'Good Eli' to 'Bad Eli' vs. Tampa Bay
Those Jekyll-and-Hyde tendencies seemed to disappear when Manning led the Giants on last year's unexpected Super Bowl run. But unfortunately, Eli's been inconsistent again to start 2012.
Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the numbers would lead you to believe that we saw Jekyll for one half and Hyde for another. But in reality, Eli was solid throughout the game. He made two big mistakes in the first half, though, and those were his Hyde moments (Hyde was the evil one).
Manning completed 67 percent of his passes in that first half, but three were intercepted. So what went wrong?
Early, I noticed Manning was locking in on his first reads often. The majority of the time, that first read was Hakeem Nicks, who was going to town on Aqib Talib. Over the course of the game, Nicks would make eight catches on a ridiculous 13 targets against Talib, according to Pro Football Focus. Three of Manning's first four throws went to Nicks on Talib.
But on Manning's first interception, he was again locked onto a his first option and didn't go through progressions. There wasn't a lot of pressure, but Manning failed to see Bucs middle linebacker Mason Foster floating underneath as he targeted Martellus Bennett on a slant.
In the second quarter, Manning would throw another interception on an out route to Victor Cruz, who was again his first read. But zero percent of the blame for that pick goes to Eli, whose throw was probably right where it was supposed to be on a timing route. The problem was that Ronde Barber held Cruz as Manning was releasing, throwing him off the route and creating the pick. The officials missed it.
Wright stopped his blitz as Manning was about to release to Cruz, stepped back and made an interception. That would turn into a pick-six, which means Manning had single-handedly cost his team 14 or more points on careless throws.
Manning avoided those types of mistakes in the second half, but it helped that the Buccaneers started pinning their ears back. Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan had to know how good Eli is against the blitz. In 2011, only one quarterback was more accurate under pressure, according to Pro Football Focus. He completed 114 passes when facing heat, which was the highest number in the league by a wide margin.
But Tampa Bay's defense was looking for the big play, and Manning made them pay.
In the fourth quarter, the Bucs sent six on a third down...
Going forward, Manning will continue to make mistakes like the ones he had in the first half against Tampa Bay. The question is how often Edward Hyde will make appearances. That's somewhat dependent on what the opposing defense does, but it certainly continues to appear as though the more pressure, the merrier for Dr. Henry Jekyll.
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