Eli Manning Drives Fans Nuts, Will He Short-Circuit Giants' Season Altogether?

David RushCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2010

Eli Manning, 24 Combined Turnovers Thus Far In 2010
Eli Manning, 24 Combined Turnovers Thus Far In 2010Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

N.Y. Giants Report: Somewhere fairly early on last night in the pervasive, stuttering, offensive yawner that turned out to be a New York Giants 21-3 gimme against the Brett Favre deprived Minnesota Vikings, my football crazy friend Peck started screaming bloody murder.

I don't remember if this was before or after Eli's second inexplicable interception, but the gist was, "This god damn Eli Manning is nothing more than Dave Brown with a southern drawl and a football pedigree!" 

Something like that, although there might have been a bit more unseemly language thrown in there as well.

Now for those of you who don't remember, or who never knew Dave Brown to begin with, bless you my children; for those of you who do, well I'm sorry to bring up such an unpleasant memory. 

The Giants used a number one pick in the 1992 Supplemental Draft to engender his services out of the particularly well known football factory, Duke University. He was 6-5 230 pounds, cerebral (of course—he went to Duke), and was immediately named the heir apparent to the current hero in possession of the reins, Giant legend Phil Simms. 

There's not much more to say from there except the Giants and head coach Dan Reeves dumped Simms a year or two early to get Brown on the field. Misfiring Dave revved it up over the course of 4 starting seasons to the tune of a 54.6 completion percentage, (actually better than I would have thought in retrospect), with 44 touchdowns & 58 interceptions.

Oh and, well, maybe one other thing.

The guy had a popgun arm and could have been the worst deep thrower ever to step on a professional football field. 

Now in truth, I'm just making fun here ... well, kind of ...  

Eli Manning is capable of playing the quarterback position, in streaks, as well as almost any other member of the National Football League. I mean, no doubt, he's had his Dave Brown moments, and god only knows he's had very little luck with the long ball in his seven or so seasons in N.Y. ... endless wide open drops, under or overthrows as evidenced last night by the ghastly, sideline heave to a wide open Hakeem Nicks (who for a moment appeared to have injured himself stretching for the ball; you see there are almost always ramifications to these things.)

But it's the turnovers that are really starting to make Giant followers wonder if this otherwise supremely talented and ever more consistent team might actually have this nice looking season end run to the playoffs upended by Eli's never ending 2010 tendency to turn the ball over to the opposition.

A combined 24 miscues, five fumbles, nineteen interceptions in thirteen games is almost shamefully close two per matchup. While the N.Y. Giants have survived the malady thus far to the tune of a 9-4 record and a share of the N.F.C. East division lead, they will not be able to survive this kind of sloppy play during those harrowing sixty minute periods of play in the post season, conference tournament.

Their defense appears to be cranking on all cylinders now as the rookie Jason Pierre-Paul has emerged into his own and enabled the fearsome front to rush four. Several games ago, it seemed as though the Giants rush had stalled and would require endless blitz packages to produce the same result.

They're as tough as can be against the run (ask Adrian Peterson, 14 carries for 26 yards last night), and the pass coverage is generally solid (there were some big hits laid last night, especially by corner Corey Webster). 

They've got an offensive line to die for, two great running backs currently moving at full throttle, and quite possibly the best set of outside weapons this team has ever sported (not to mention Kevin Boss, one helluva tight end).

Yes, their special teams are an abomination (for two years running now, coach Tom Quinn must be in possession of some very unusual Tom Coughlin photographs) as teams run through the kick coverage like Swiss cheese, and the return game is something to be truly sick over. No doubt this failing can also abort a Giant run to the roses (especially disconcerting with scary, game-breaker DeSean Jackson coming up this weekend).

But it's Eli, generally on the field for thirty minutes or more with, I don't know, 65 touches, that really holds the key to the teams immediate future.

Philly invades new Giants Stadium this Sunday at 1 p.m. with reborn Michael Vick at the helm. A week later, if his head is right, the very gifted Aaron Rodgers and a banged up but sure to be desperate Packer team in frigid Lambeau Field will follow. 

In the suddenly ultra competitive N.F.C, these are must win games for the Giants, and they will not - win - if Eli Manning continues to be careless with the football, (much less overcome the likes of Matt Ryan and Drew Brees somewhere down the arduous playoff road.)

Of course that's no sure thing even if Eli does play great, mistake free football. That's the nature of the game, if wins were guaranteed, if your girlfriend looked like Selita Ebanks, if monkeys could talk, well you know what I'm saying ... the NFL Playoffs are just about the hairiest, heart attack inducing time of the year.

But it sure is nice to be a participant.

Last night Troy Aikman remarked that this Giant team was starting to remind him of the 2007 squad that made the big run. That's clear enough.

But this run will be short circuited unless Eli Manning gets his game together in full. 

That's clear enough too. 

For now, though, bring on the Eagles for a great divisional match in week 15. 

And that's it for today,