With Palmer Gone, Manning Must Make The Leap

Chris BurnhamContributor IJanuary 29, 2010

The man who saved Eli Manning's career is riding off into the sunset.

And it's now up to Eli Manning to show us all that he can persevere without the hands-on guidance of his wise sage.

Chris Palmer, probably best known for being the original head coach of the "new" Cleveland Browns from 1999 to 2000; an inglorious two-year stretch in which he managed his team to a meager five victories. Before making his final stop in the swamplands of northern New Jersey, he had stops with the Cowboys, where he moulded a young prospect by the name of Tony Romo. He also had a fairly non-descript tenure with the league's newest franchise, the Houston Texans.

Palmer was hired and entrusted to find and tinker with the numerous problems that Eli Manning was still struggling with prior to the 2007 season. Teetering on the verge of Manning becoming a bust, Palmer had quite the challenge ahead of him.

Thanks to the stifling pressure defense and a sound three-headed-monster running game of Brandon Jacobs, former Giant turned Buccaneer, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw, Palmer was able to coax his protege into staying within himself, while finding the right drills that clicked for Manning and his erratic and oft-maligned mechanics. The potential was there, and Palmer knew the exact buttons to hammer on.

The 2007 season ended with the Giants' third Super Bowl championship. 2007 also kick-started the ascent to the possibility of an elite quarterback. Manning's statistics rose in all three years of Palmer's tenure, culminating with Manning reaching the 4,000-yard plateau and 27 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions in 2009.

Now the ball is completely in Manning's hands. It's up to him to ply what he's been taught and take over. It's his time. One can only hope that Manning trusts himself to not fall into the previous funks that left coaches, teammates and fans alike scratching their heads. Palmer's career legacy lies in every touchdown Manning throws from this point on.

And Eli Manning's career owes every debt of gratitude to Palmer because of it.