Eli Manning Gives Giants Stability At the NFL's Most Important Position
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"Peyton's brother" or "Archie's son" are just two of the nicknames that the Manning's second-youngest child has had to endure throughout his football career.
Hell, if he wasn't playing in New York who knows how far Eli's Q rating would fall.
Instead of being scrutinized for his somewhat inconsistent play and overall sloppiness with the football, Manning should be recognized for what he truly is: a franchise quarterback.
In this age of prolific aerial attacks, where reliability under center is the number one priority for any NFL team, the Giants can rest easy knowing that they have the quarterback position locked down for at least the next five years with Manning.
How many other teams can currently say that about their QB? Five? Maybe Ten?
When posed with the most important question a quarterback has to answer during his career, "Can he win us a Super Bowl?" Eli responded with a resounding yes, garnering the Super Bowl MVP in the Giants' monumental upset over the previously-unbeaten Patriots in 2007.
While critics may be quick to point to Super Bowl victories by the Trent Dilfer-led Ravens in '00 or Brad Johnson's Bucs in '02, they should recognize the difference between winning in spite of a player compared to winning because of a player.
Should Eli Manning be considered a Top-10 quarterback in the NFL?
During the Giants' Super Bowl run in '07, we were all witnesses to the evolution of Eli Manning from a nubile passer into a championship-caliber quarterback.
Gone was the turnover-prone gunslinger of the regular season (he was tied for the NFL lead with 20 interceptions), as Manning showed poise, confidence, and control of the offense throughout the playoffs, only giving the ball away once in G-Men's four wins.
And since we're on the topic of the 2007 Super Bowl, David Tyree's freak catch would have meant nothing if Eli didn't connect with wideout Steve Smith on a decisive 3rd-11 with 45 seconds to go in the game's final minute, so let's put the luck factor to rest already.
All in all, Manning would finish 10-of-14 for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII, not to mention that he lead the G-Men on two separate 80-yard TD drives in the game's final period.
Even though most football fans never expected an Eli Manning-led fourth quarter comeback, especially in the Super Bowl, it was his third game-winning drive that postseason and he had displayed similar prowess with the game on the line up to that point in his career.
Flash forward to 2010 and for his career, Peyton's little bro has engineered fourteen fourth quarter comebacks and 17 game-winning drives. While he's not his big brother (Peyton has 45 game-winning drives), Eli has established himself as a crunch-time performer in his own right.
The lack of statistical analysis on my part when discussing No.10's greatness was done (mostly) on purpose. Generally without huge offensive numbers in the box score, though he does have three 300-yard passing games this season, Eli is willing to trade in his stats and focus on what he does best: win football games.
Armed with a 57-41 career record as a starter (not including his 4-3 mark in the playoffs), Manning has accrued more wins than brother Peyton had (55) in his first 98 games.
This season, though, Eli could cement his status as a top-tier NFL quarterback if he can lead the Giants to their fourth playoff berth in five years, especially when taking Hakeem Nicks' and Steve Smith's injuries into account.
If healthy, the Giants have a chance to run the table in a parity-filled NFC division, as a late-season run could once again spark a playoff surge for a squad similar to that of the '07 championship team.
No matter what the outcome of this season may be, for the next few season there is comfort in knowing that the Giants have a quarterback that they can trust and win with under center in Eli Manning, and that's all a fan could ever ask for.
Jesse Paguaga is a Featured Columnist for the New York Giants on Bleacher Report. He is a regular contributor to Baseball Digest in the BD Baseball Fantasy Department. Jesse writes for Gotham Baseball, along with Gotham Hoops, Gotham Gridiron, and The Jerry Magwire Blog (http://thejerrymagwire.wordpress.com/). He can be reached at Paguaga@usc.edu or can be found on Facebook and on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/@jpags77.
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