Eli Manning: Will the Critics Finally Shut Up?
Eli Manning is my quarterback, and I will have it no other way. He is having by far his best season as a Giant. His critics claim he cannot win in the Meadowlands in December. He is now 2-1 in December 2009 against NFC East opponents, with two games in less than ideal weather conditions at Giants Stadium. He should be 3-0, but that is another discussion.
All of his critics have been saying he is not the QB his brother is, he cannot win the big game, his receivers cannot produce, and he is not an accurate passer. This discussion should finally be put to bed with his performance this year. And to all those critics who claim the Giants blew it on draft day by trading Phillip Rivers for Eli, I say "MOVE TO SAN DIEGO."
Here is the top five list of why Eli is the quarterback now and for the future of the NY Giants:
5. Eli Manning Has Led the Giants to the Playoffs
Since 2005, Eli's first full year as starter, he has led the team to the playoffs four years in a row. His playoff record is 4-3 as starter, and who can forget the playoff run of 2007? A Super Bowl MVP is no trivial contribution. He continues to grow as a playoff QB in his fifth full season as a starter.
4. Eli Manning Has Been a Model Citizen in the NY Media Market
Since joining the Giants, Eli has been the face of the team, and has taken the brunt of the criticism for its failings since 2005. He has stood in front of the media, his mood and demeanor unwavering, always answering the tough questions after a loss. While he has been criticized for his less than Favre-ish antics, I want my quarterback to be calm and in control in pressure situations.
3. Eli Manning at the Line of Scrimmage
Jon Gruden, one of the more respected offensive minds in the game today, has observed that Eli does more at the line of scrimmage than most quarterbacks in the league. He makes the play-call, goes to the line and calls out protection schemes, reads the defense, calls out the defensive alignments, realigns players, and makes the critical decisions.
Not every team asks their quarterback to do all this, in a span of 40 seconds. What this really means is that his knowledge of the team's offense, and of the opposing defense, is better than anyone else on the team. Only elite quarterbacks can do this successfully.
2. Eli Manning Has Been the Team's Offensive Leader Since 2005
Most NFL experts view a quarterback in terms of yards produced, QB rating, and touchdown-to-interception ratio. In 2009, Eli has thrown for 3,584 yards, has a 96.0 QB rating, and has thrown for 26 touchdowns while only being intercepted 11 times. This rating is up nearly ten points from last year's rating of 86.4. This ranks him ninth in the league, and fifth in touchdowns. His yards per attempt, another benchmark, ranks him fifth at 8.1. In the NFC he ranks only behind Drew Brees in yards per attempt.
1. The Receiving Corps Is No Longer a Question Mark
In the offseason, and since the infamous Plaxico Burress shooting incident, the Giants offense has come under fire for the lack of a No. 1 receiver. Braylon Edwards went to the Jets and Anquan Boldin stayed in Arizona. The critics all said that Eli can never be successful with his current group of receivers.
Steve Smith has eclipsed Amani Toomer's team record, and is now at 90 catches for the season. This ranks Smith fourht in the league and first in the NFC. Hakeem Nicks has developed into a big play receiver. When they are able to get the ball to Nicks in space, he can make things happen. Kevin Boss is a solid tight end, and Mario Manningham has shown real flashes this season.
Other contributors include Derek Hagan, Domenik Hixon, and Ahmad Bradshaw. There certainly is no limit on the targets available to Eli. The veterans in this group are Kevin Boss and Steve Smith, both third year players.
It is time for the fan base to embrace Eli Manning, and for the most part many have. However, what I see and hear on many blogs is the focus on his failures and ignoring what he brings to the table. As a regular at Giants games this year, it is disturbing to this fan to hear some of these comments, and how quickly the fans will turn against Eli.
In judging Eli, especially from the standpoint of inconsistency, look at his career stats, and look deeper to see how he has improved.
The New York fan has high expectations of their sports heroes. Eli's calm exterior is different than what New Yorkers see as showing leadership. Eli's leadership is through his actions and not his voice.
In all likelihood only one game remains at Giants Stadium this year, against Carolina on Dec. 27. Let's make this Eli's house, and just as the fans during the Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson era at times pushed our defense to new heights, let's get behind Eli and start our playoff run.
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