Eli Manning is on top of the world. His New York Giants are preparing to face the mighty New England Patriots for a Super Bowl championship and a shot at immortality. Win or lose, Peyton's little brother is now securely entrenched as the Giants' franchise quarterback of the present and future.
But as we all know, that hasn't always been the case.
In fact, as recently as earlier this season, many national pundits questioned such things as Eli's ability to lead a team, to play in poor weather conditions, to win a playoff game, and to be a starting NFL quarterback in general.
Three impressive road victories in which he's sported a 99.1 quarterback rating and a four-to-zero touchdown-to-interception ratio have erased a lot of those doubts, but remember that it's taken four full seasons for this maturation process to occur.
And that's for a former No. 1 overall pick with a fairly impressive arsenal of offensive weapons around him.
With that in mind, are the Miami Dolphins and their fanbase capable of such patience? Off the top of my head, I would have to say no.
Consider that many Dolphins fans, and even some media pundits, have already passed judgment on rookie quarterback John Beck after seeing him play roughly four games with one of the most ragtag offensive units in recent memory.
Beck finished the 2007 season completing 56.1 percent of his passing attempts, throwing for 559 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions for a meek 62.0 passer rating. He also fumbled a ridiculous seven times, losing five of them, although several of those can be attributed to the 10 sacks he endured. Not exactly the most inspiring numbers.
However, when compared to what Eli Manning put up in his first four games—on a team that was above the .500 mark when he took over—Beck comes off looking like a candidate for rookie of the year. Try these abhorrent numbers on for size: one touchdown, six interceptions, nine sacks, two fumbles, 38.6 completion percentage.
Needless to say, Manning's passer rating suffered greatly during this opening stint of games. To put into perspective, in his fourth outing, a 37-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Manning completed just four of 18 pass attempts for a meager 22 yards and threw two interceptions for a passer rating of 0.0.
Manning was given an opportunity to finish out the season (the same can't be said for Beck) and his numbers bounced back a bit; even so, though, he has continued to struggle with inconsistency and a penchant for throwing interceptions throughout his four-year career.
Heck, earlier this year, Manning had three of his four interceptions returned for touchdowns against the upstart Minnesota Vikings.
Meanwhile, the 27-year-old has clearly traversed that bumpy road and is now in the midst of a hot streak the likes of which have not been seen in quite some time, and he is a living testament to what can happen to a quarterback when he's given time to develop.
And while Beck detractors will be quick to point out that he's already on the verge of turning 27, the point is still valid. Give the kid some time to adjust to the NFL game before casting him away like unwanted Mormon paraphernalia. Otherwise, you might be derailing the engineer of a future Super Bowl run.
Beck may not deserve the four years that Manning was given, but four games might be a bit premature in light of the example I've laid out, don't you think?
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