5 Reasons Eli Manning Is a Top 5 NFL Quarterback in 2011
It's not a career achievement list, nor is it something that is set in stone for this season, but there is no doubt in my mind Eli is having a top-five season.
He's got to be on every MVP list, and if he's not, that person responsible for the list needs their head examined.
If you don't believe me, here are five reasons why.
He's Playing Behind a Make-Shift Offensive Line
Not only did the Giants come in to the 2011 season missing two of their key offensive line pieces from the past half a decade, but even the guys still here are missing games.
Will Beatty, David Diehl and David Baas are all new components to the line and have struggled to live up to expectations. What was once a dominant strength has become a weakness for the Giants.
Not only that, but Baas has missed essentially three games (he left early in the Cardinals game), and Pro Bowl right guard Chris Snee has missed two games due to injury.
They have not protected Eli well at all, and despite all of that, he's still managing to make plays.
No Running Game to Lean on
Speaking of the offensive line, to say the running game has been embarrassing is an understatement. The Giants are averaging a putrid 88 yards per game, which ranks 29th in the NFL.
In the past, Eli was only considered a compliment to his great running attack; the perception was they needed to keep the ball out of his hands to avoid mistakes.
That is obviously no longer the case, as he has put this team on his back.
They lost Steve Smith and Kevin Boss before the season. They lost Domenik Hixon in the second game. Mario Manningham has missed two games. Hakeem Nicks missed the victory against the Patriots.
It seems no matter who is running routes for the Giants, Eli has been able to make everyone better. The latest beneficiary, Jake Ballard, is becoming a house hold name in New York after his incredible catch against the Patriots.
Even before that, he had become a reliable target and everything Boss was for the Giants.
Victor Cruz came out of nowhere to be a serious weapon for the Giants as well. The undrafted free agent out of UMass is 16th in the NFL in receiving yards with 588 and is a favorite big play target of Eli's.
The scary part? Eli and his new weapons will continue to get better as the season progresses and their trust in each other continues to grow.
What better way to prove Eli is elite than to look at his statistics? He ranks sixth in yards per game, ninth in completion percentage, fifth in touchdowns and second in yards per attempt.
Probably the statistic quarterbacks are most measured by is QB rating, which Eli ranks fifth at 98.8. He is playing very well right now, and, as I've said before, the Giants would be in a much worse situation without him.
Maybe these stats don't look all that great to you in a vacuum, but they are mind boggling when you consider the first three slides.
Nobody saw this coming.
One of the Most Clutch Quarterbacks in the NFL
You could make an argument that Tom Brady is the most clutch quarterback in the NFL, but you couldn't go wrong with two minutes left and the ball in Eli's hands.
In 2011, he already has five wins in which his team was trailing in the fourth quarter. In this Sunday's win over the Patriots, he guided the offense on two 80-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.
Oh, and Eli has the highest QB rating in the fourth quarter so far this season.
If you've paid any sort of attention to Eli's career, you would know this is nothing new. Despite all of his shortcomings in the past, he's always been able to shine when the pressure is on.
Truly elite players are those that play their best when the chips are down, and there is no question Eli has done that in his career time and time again.
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