Eli Manning: 1st-Half Report Card for New York Giants QB

Jeff Nowak@@JNowakTSNContributor IIIOctober 31, 2011

Eli Manning: 1st-Half Report Card for New York Giants QB

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    Here you go: the obligatory NFL player in the pink hat picture that I can only conclude was a major part of the lockout negotiations over the offseason.

    After Week 8 of the NFL season, there are many things to be considered, especially when it comes to the Giants' pink-hatted quarterback. He is the most scrutinized of any at the position and has been ever since he dictated his draft position back in 2004. 

    When he plays poorly, he's regressing. When he plays well, he was bailed out by good receivers, good running backs, a good defense—take your pick. 

    The scrutiny was at its peak after the 2010 season. Manning led the league in interceptions and total turnovers with 25 and 30, respectively. 

    So far this season he's been able to reel in that criticism a bit, and now we are past the "halfway point" in this 2011 season, so let's take a look at Manning's first-half report card. 

Statistics: Nothing to Complain About Here

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    Statistics: A-

      Result Cmp/Att Yds Pct. TDs INTs FUMs  
    @Redskins L 14-28 18-32 268 56.3 0 1 0  
    St. Louis W 28-16 19-30 223 69.3 2 1 0  
    @Philly W 29-16 16-23 254 69.6 4 0 0  
    @Arizona W 31-27 27-40 321 67.5 2 0 1  
    Seahawks L 25-36 24-39 420 61.5 3 3 1  
    Bills W 27-24 21-32 292 65.6 0 0 0  
    Miami W 20-17 31-45 349 68.9 2 0 0  

    Totals 156-241 64.7 2,427 13 5 2  

    Statistics gathered from NFL.com

    At his current pace, Manning has a shot to better his own Giants franchise record for passing yards, and also has an outside shot to hit 5,000 yards, a landmark for any QB. 

    If it weren't for his anomaly of a game against the Seahawks, in which his last two interceptions came in the last two minutes, he would've likely received an A+ rating. He has almost completely cut the turnovers out of his repertoire otherwise, the most impressive performance being his turnover-free game against the Bills, who are tied for the NFL lead in takeaways with 18 on the year. 

    His big detraction was interceptions and he has now nearly eliminated those with 13 TDs to five INTs after losing his most trusted receiver in Steve Smith. 

    I think it's time to give Manning credit for being a top-flight QB and an A-level rating in the stats department. 

Leadership: Nothing New Here

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    Leadership: B


    That's how Manning is described when things are going poorly. He's never too up, never too down. When things are going well he's applauded, when things are going poorly, he's crucified for that same trait. 

    For anyone that pays close attention to Manning and his style, it has become clear that this approach works for the team. Also, regardless of the lack of emotion on his face, it should be known that those cogs are furiously churning in his head while he bemusedly paces the sidelines watching his defense on the field. 

    I'd take a laid back Manning over an obnoxiously fiery Philip Rivers any day of the week. 

    The reason Manning is at a B for a leadership is not because of mentality, but because of complacency. 

    Troubling games against the Cardinals, Seahawks and Dolphins—along with countless other games over the course of his career—have promulgated the trend that the Giants play down to the level of their opponents. 

    While they won two of those games, the Seahawks result is a prime example of what happens when you take a so-so NFL team lightly. While this is not all Manning's fault, it does lie with the leadership. Who has more play in the leadership aspect than the quarterback?

Composure: Few Better

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    Composure: A

    When it comes to leading a team down the field at the end of the game, Tom Brady will be the first to give credit to Eli Manning as being one of the best in the league at doing just that. All he has to do is describe his chronic, helmet-catch-themed nightmare.  

    While Brady might be the prototype for the player you'd want in that circumstance, Manning would have to rank right behind his brother. 

    Other than the St. Louis win, the Giants have been either tied or trailing in the fourth quarter of every game this season. While that may not be a good thing for the team, the fact they are 5-2 means Manning has the utmost composure in these situations. 

    He threw late, go-ahead touchdowns against the Cardinals and Dolphins, pulled away from the Eagles and drove for the game-winning field goal against Buffalo—all in the fourth quarter. He was also one tipped, pick-six away from doing the same thing to the Seahawks. 

    As the games get more difficult late in the season, Manning's ability to perform late in games will be all the more crucial. If his performance in that regard early in the season is any indication, that is the least of the Giants' worries. 

Fortitude: None Better

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    Fortitude: A+

    When most hear that Manning now holds the active record for most consecutive starts made, at 117, most would probably assume his O-line is solid and he never gets hit—that's simply not the case. 

    So far this season Manning has been sacked a total of 15 times. All of last season, he was sacked only 16 times. Somehow, he just keeps getting up. You're deluding yourself if you don't think he plays with pain. 

    When Tony Romo returned to the game against the 49ers with a punctured lung, the huge story next week was about how he would play with the pain, I'm sure Manning was grinning to himself. 

    Michael Vick gets knocked out of games and his team loses—quarterbacks get hurt, such is life in the NFL. 

    Even Aaron Rodgers missed two games last season, resulting in two Packers losses and barely allowing them to squeak into the playoffs. 

    It's not because linebackers and ends choose to hit Manning lightly—I witnessed him take a vicious hit as he was scissored by Jason Taylor and Cameron Wake after he passed the ball just yesterday. It's because he is as tough as they come and doesn't let it affect him. He doesn't wait for teammates to pick him up, he springs up and shows everyone he's OK. 

    It means more to a team than most would casually recognize. 

Off the Field: Nothing? Perfect

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    Off the Field: A

    There is one picture circulating the web of Manning drunk, making a weird face. There are also some strange Citizen Echo Drive watch commercials, and the Oreo licking competition with the Williams sisters will always haunt my dreams. 

    However, other than those sadly directed commercials, Manning's visibility in compromising circumstances has been almost nil while he has been with the Giants. This trait, much like his consecutive starts streak, is taken for granted because people don't realize what it is. 

    Post-game and locker room interviews are an example of this as well. Whether it be Michael Vick complaining about penalty calls or any number of QBs deflecting blame onto someone else, controversy can be spread through a microphone just as, if not more quickly than on the field. Manning keeps himself under control, even after bad losses, a trait that helps the Giants remain as focused as they can in the Big Apple. 

    Manning also doesn't have any awkward celebrity relationships: see Romo and Jessica Simpson. 

    Maybe that's why he looks so depressed on the sidelines all the time—ehh, doubt it. 

Overall GPA

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    In the interest of brevity, I'll leave you with Eli Manning, a Giants record of 5-2 and the impeccably graded Manning qualities: 

    • Statistics: A-
    • Leadership: B
    • Composure: A
    • Fortitude: A+
    • Off the Field: A
    • Overall GPA: A-

    With the Patriots coming in to signal the beginning of the Giants' second-half gauntlet, it will be interesting to see how these stats stack up in two months or so.