Eli Manning Or Philip Rivers: Did the Giants End Up With the Right Quarterback?
The 2004 NFL Draft saw the San Diego Chargers select Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning with the first overall pick. Famously, Manning refused to play for the woeful Chargers and he essentially forced a trade to the Giants.
Manning was the most highly touted of the quarterback prospects that year, so the Giants jumped at the chance to obtain his services.
The Giants surrendered their draft rights to North Carolina State product Philip Rivers along with future draft picks to make Eli a part of their franchise, and the rest is history.
Since then, both Manning and Rivers have been two of the most productive quarterbacks in the NFL.
Despite playing on opposite coasts in opposite conferences, the two signal-callers are constantly compared to each other as a result of this trade.
With that said, did the Giants make the right call in pulling the trigger on this trade seven years ago? Here are a few points to consider when making that determination.
Philip Rivers Has a Better QB Rating...
Individually, it seems clear that Rivers has had a better career than Manning.
The San Diego quarterback betters his New York counterpart in many statistical categories, including QB rating and completion percentage.
Rivers has excelled in San Diego's offense that features a high-flying passing attack, and he has the numbers to prove it.
No one can ever question Rivers' success in the NFL, as he owns one of the highest career QB ratings in NFL history.
But Eli Manning Has More Career Wins
Though Rivers has better individual statistics, Manning has more wins which is really the only stat that matters.
It's not always pretty with Eli and he takes a ton of chances out on the field, but more often than not, he gets the job done and wins the game.
The past two years have seen the Giants miss the playoffs, though it's important to remember that Eli is still only 30 years old with some huge wins under his belt.
Some quarterbacks, like Steve Young and John Elway, played some of their best football after the age of 30. With that in mind, it's possible that we haven't yet seen the best Eli Manning has to offer.
Rivers Has Thrown For More Yards...
As previously stated, Philip Rivers bests Eli Manning in nearly ever statistical category, including passing yards.
While QB rating is statistic can be applied over any number of games, passing yards is a number that is directly tied to how many games a quarterback plays.
Manning has played 21 more games in his career than Rivers, mostly due to the fact that Rivers played in only four games over his first two professional seasons while Manning saw action in 25 games through the 2005 season.
Despite all of that, the former Wolfpack quarterback has over 1000 more passing yards than his Rebel counterpart.
But Manning Plays In a Run-Based Offense
The reason for this disparity is directly linked to the offense in which each quarterback plays.
The Giants have always been a run-heavy team, while the Chargers have been known to employ a system that sees many more passes.
It's not just the systems, either.
Philip Rivers plays his home games in San Diego, one of the best cities in terms of weather in the country. Eli Manning, on the other hand, plays half of his games in the windy and cold confines of the Meadowlands.
It's tough to throw for 4,000 yards consistently, as Rivers does, in the tough Northeastern environment. It just makes more sense to rely more heavily on the run.
Rivers Has More December Wins...
It's probably one of the most impressive statistics in all of football: Philip Rivers has a career record of 20-3 in the month of December.
That is a great winning percentage, especially late in the season when the games are more often than not divisional matchups.
Of course, it's not that surprising when you think about the way the Chargers' season seems to go every year; they start out slow and finish hot.
But still, 20-3 is one heck of a record and Eli Manning cannot even begin to match that, as his December record is a mere 14-17.
But Manning Has More Playoff Wins
The late-season wins are important, but players are remembered by what they did in the playoffs.
While Rivers has more December wins, Manning has more postseason wins.
Both quarterbacks have been to the playoffs four times in their careers. Rivers has a record of 3-4, while Manning boasts a record of 4-3.
The Chargers have also been consistent underachievers in the postseason under the direction of Rivers, while the Giants saw themselves exceed expectations in 2007 when they represented the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Rivers Is a Loud, Agressive Leader...
Since his days at NC State, Philip Rivers has been known as a brash, cocky and sometimes arrogant player.
Verbal spats with defensive players and opposing quarterbacks are par for the course for Rivers, and he's never been one to shy away from controversy or criticism.
He can often be seen on the sidelines getting in his teammates' faces as he demonstratively demands accountability from each and every one of them.
It's his style and it's always worked for him as he's garnered respect from his teammates while racking up wins.
But Eli's Calm Demeanor And Level Head Is Better For New York
That being said, Manning is the exact opposite in demeanor and style.
He's calm, cool and collected at all times, and he's rarely seen raising his voice to anyone on the sidelines.
Manning is seemingly always wearing that same sheepish grin and his detractors call it a bad thing. On the contrary, it is one of his best qualities.
Being loud and brash may work in the San Diego market, but in New York, the media would have long since ripped Manning apart had he been behaving the way Rivers has throughout his career.
His level head and easygoing style keeps panicking at a minimum; he never gets too high and he never gets too low.
Surely, his teammates value his even keel because it serves to keep the New York media hounds at bay through any crisis.
Rivers Is a Three Time Pro Bowler...
In 2006, 2009 and 2010, Philip Rivers was selected to represent the AFC in the Pro Bowl.
He is consistently recognized as one of the most productive quarterbacks in a conference that features players like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
Eli Manning has been selected to one Pro Bowl in his career, in 2008.
But Manning Has a Super Bowl Ring
But once again, Eli Manning's overall achievements trump what Rivers brings to the table.
Eli Manning led the New York Giants on one of the most improbable and spectacular Super Bowl runs in history.
As the fifth seed in the NFC, the Giants knocked off the undefeated New England Patriots to cap off a run that saw them win an NFL record 11 straight road games.
Rivers, on the other hand, has been basically a failure in the playoffs. He only has three playoff victories to his name and no Super Bowl appearances, let alone victories.
It seems the Giants made the right move in trading for Eli Manning at the 2004 NFL Draft.
After all, in Manning, they had a player with a great pedigree who wanted more than anything to play for the New York Giants.
That being said, the San Diego Chargers certainly are not upset about how things turned out.
They ended up with Rivers, who is a great quarterback in his own right, and two draft picks that they turned into Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding.
In a world where little turns out as planned, it seems that both the San Diego Chargers and the New York Giants got what they wanted out of the draft: a game-changing, franchise cornerstone of a quarterback that can be built around for years to come.
Mike Osterberg is a student at Penn State University and Featured Columnist for the New York Giants. Follow him on twitter @Mike_Osterberg.