Breaking Down Areas Where Eli Manning Has Quietly Struggled in 2012

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Breaking Down Areas Where Eli Manning Has Quietly Struggled in 2012
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

If an unnamed New York quarterback threw for 654 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions over the last three games, and went the last two straight games without a touchdown pass, who would you guess we were talking about?

Hint: it's not Mark Sanchez.

Those malnourished numbers belong to Eli Manning.

Poor play exhibited by the two-time Super Bowl MVP is not breaking news to Giants fans, as Manning's career has been somewhat of an oxymoron. He may go down as one of the most streakiest successful quarterbacks in NFL history.

Brother Peyton Manning along with Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady have little or no shred of negativity put on their ability to play the position.

Eli always gets the red-headed step-child treatment, so when he struggles, it's always magnified. The four-game winning streak that Eli led the Giants on previous to their Week 9 loss probably delayed an article like this one from being published earlier in the season.

In Week 6 against the San Francisco 49ers, imagine the scrutiny Eli would have endured if the Giants had lost that game. The same can be said for win the Giants squeaked out over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8. 

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

His abilities would have been questioned and experts would have claimed that the Giants season could be in trouble. It goes to show you that momentum in the NFL is as unpredictable as a Rex Ryan press conference. 

Eli had managed to keep momentum in his favor as he led the G-Men to a 6-2 first place record, but last Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers opened up the imminent floodgates for why Eli's magic has run out.

Since quarterbacks get all the credit when things go right, it's only fair to look at Eli's struggles when things go bad—two aspects of his game stand out.

 

Inconsistency  

Last week's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers has raised some red flags surrounding Manning's play, as the loss turned out to be a culmination of his recent struggles with consistency.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Eli Manning trying to get everyone on the same page.

Under Eli's own admission, the team has really struggled to move the ball efficiently in the red zone and overall. “We haven’t been playing our best football offensively in the last few weeks,” Manning said. “It finally caught up with us.”

Hard-fought team wins over the 49ers, Redskins and Cowboys just suppressed all of Manning's deficiencies, and the Steelers were able to expose them.

On a side note, Lawrence Tynes has already kicked 26 field goal attempts this season, and he had 19 all of last regular season—highlighting Manning's struggles to convert six points in the red zone. 

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Lamar Woodley of the Steelers getting to Eli Manning before he could get rid of the ball.

 

Poor decision-making has caught up with him

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was well aware of the Giants' recent struggles running the ball, and he masterfully coached a Troy Polamalu-less defense to pressure and force Eli to make mistakes.

To LeBeau's reassurance, Manning only managed to throw for 125 yards as he completed 10 passes on 24 attempts. Manning has become one of the league's best fourth-quarter-comeback specialists thanks to his decision-making, but his recent lack of good decisions are taking their toll.

The Giants had three offensive possessions in the fourth quarter, and Eli orchestrated a three-and-out each time. In fact, the G-Men have only converted on five of 25 third downs in the past two games.

Clearly NFL defenses have adjusted to Eli's dynamic passing onslaught, and he'll have to make better decisions going forward.  

 

Listen here to Manning assess his own poor performance, as he joined WFAN's Mike Francesa this past Monday in his weekly radio spot.

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