Eli Manning: How to Spell Elite Without Eli

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IAugust 12, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 03:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants walks off the field in the first quarter agianst the Minnesota Vikings on January 3, 2010 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

There's this myth going around that Eli Manning is an elite NFL quarterback coming into the 2010 season.

Let's look at Manning's stats from 2009, his best statistical year in the league: 317-509, for a 62.3 completion percentage, 4,021 yards, 27 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 7.9 yards per attempt, sacked 30 times, and had 13 fumbles, eight of which were lost. 

How about comparing those numbers to some truly elite quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Aaron Rodgers?

P. Manning: 393-571, 68.8 completion percentage, 4,500 yards, 33 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 7.9 yards per attempt, sacked 10 times, and fumbled twice, losing neither. 

Brees: 363-514, 70.6 completion percentage, 4,388 yards, 34 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 8.5 yards per attempt, sacked 20 times, and 10 fumbles with six being lost. 

Brady: 371-565, 65.7 percent, 4,398 yards, 28 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 7.8 yards per attempt, sacked 16 times, and four fumbles with two being lost. 

Rivers: 317-486, 65.2 percent, 4,254 yards, 28 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 8.8 yards per attempt, sacked 25 times, and fumbled six times while losing three. 

Rodgers: 350-451, 64.7 percent, 4,434 yards, 30 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, sacked 50 times, and fumbled 10 times while losing four. 

All their numbers from last year are better than Eli's. Even with one of those quarterbacks under constant pressure, he still managed to lead his team to the playoffs. 

Giant fans would believe that Manning is an elite quarterback because he's got a Super Bowl ring and Super Bowl MVP Award. Manning had a great run in those playoffs, but the defense of the Giants—led by legendary pass rusher Michael Strahan in his final season—was playing inspired football at the time. 

Manning will be remembered for his tremendous escape from a sack and subequent pass to David Tyree, who made an incredible leaping catch to save the Giants and Manning from what would have been an easy interception.

But, Manning didn't really put up incredible numbers in that game. He threw 19-34, 255 yards, and had two touchdowns and one interception. 

Tyree, the hero for the Giants, only caught two other passes and one of those was a touchdown catch. The MVP could have gone to Tyree, or it could have gone to a Giants defensive player, but instead it went to Manning. 

Well, what about Manning's other playoff performances? In his career, he's played in seven games, and in five out of the seven games, he's not thrown over 200 yards. 

His playoff numbers are 113-193, 58.5 completion percentage, 1,297 yards, and eight touchdown to seven interceptions—hardly numbers that scream elite! He's had five playoff games with a sub-60 completion percentage, and in three playoff games Manning didn't even thrown a touchdown pass. 

Even Manning's numbers in his Super Bowl season weren't that great. He went 297-529, had a completion percentage of 56.1, 3,336 yards, 23 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 6.3 yards per attempt, was sacked 27 times, and fumbled the ball 13 times, losing seven.

He turned the ball over 27 times in his Super Bowl MVP season. That doesn't scream elite, now does it? 

Besides the Super Bowl MVP, what other accolades does Manning have? He's been to one Pro Bowl, yes, but he also led the NFC in interceptions one year. In fact, Manning has only had two seasons in which he had less than 20 turnovers. 

Those distinctions don't seem to scream elite.

With all that mind, it is clear Manning doesn't belong in any conversation about elite quarterbacks.