No Star Wide Receiver, No Problem For Eli's Giants
Quick, name one of Eli Manning's wide receivers from his days at Ole Miss.
Stumped? Me too.
The bottom line is, he was still able to work with the guys on the Ole Miss roster, get the job done and eventually become the no. 1 overall pick at the NFL draft in 2004. Ever since Plaxico Burress moronically shot himself and ended the Giants' dream of repeating in November, Manning has come under major criticism for not having a proven commodity to throw the ball to.
But I say, who cares?
Manning is a talented quarterback because of the way he sees the game. He should be able to elevate the play of those around him, like he did in Super Bowl 42. As it stands today his receivers are: Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Ramses Barden, Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham and David Tyree. His tight ends are Kevin Boss and Travis Beckum.
Hopefully Nicks can develop into a solid, down-field threat to go alongside Hixon (who should have better hands this season) so Smith can go back to doing what he does best, which is working from the slot. Also, look for the 6'6" Barden to create some matchup problems in the opposition's secondary.
I doubt any of these players are "household names", but the G-men should still be able to dominate the NFC and earn their second trip to the Super Bowl in three seasons.
Here's why: New York's schedule (which includes games against Oakland, Kansas City, Tampa, Denver and Carolina) is very manageable. I foresee an 11-5 season and the NFC East title in 2009. As long as they continue to run the ball successfully with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw behind one of the best offensive lines in the game today, Manning and his receivers should have no problem getting open, putting up points and racking up wins.
I haven't even mentioned the fact that the Giants defense is in top five in the NFL and will have Osi Umenyiora back. Umenyiora missed all of last season with an injury.
Even a football novice can tell you Manning's career stats (98 TDs, 74 INTs, 55.9 completion percentage) don't blow anyone away and certainly pale in comparison to big brother Peyton's resume, but Eli is a winner as he already proved that by winning a Super Bow.
Oh, and his receivers at Ole Miss in 2003 -- Chris Collins, Bill Flowers, Mike Espy, Kerry Johnson and Taye Biddle were about as anoynomus as his WRs are going into this season.
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