The Giant Insider Online

Eli Manning is Overhyped and Giant Fans Don’t Care

New York Giants QB Eli Manning is one of the most famous sports figures in America. He’s also one of the highest-paid. He can’t help that. He was born a Manning and he was acquired by the Giants. There’s no bigger spotlight to be under as the Giants’ QB. He’s also a member of football’s royal family. There’s no escaping that.

He has answered his critics with two Super Bowl wins over the game’s greatest player in Tom Brady but those moments are distant memories in this man’s NFL. The past few seasons have seen Eli look more like a washed-up bum than a two-time Super Bowl MVP who ranks sixth all-time in passes attempted and completed and yards passing. He has thrown 339 touchdowns in his career (8th all time) and holds every Giants passing mark that matters.

So when our friend Brett Sobieski over at Bleacher Report put Eli at the top of his list of “overhyped” NFL players, Giant fans just shrug it off.

Who cares? Not me. Not Giant fans. We know Eli’s “decline” is being greatly exaggerated. 

I’ll admit, Eli has frustrated the living out of me at times and, yes, I occasionally wished the Giants had kept Philip Rivers or drafted Ben Roethlisberger instead of putting together that deal for Eli back in April of 2004.

But a lot of that goes away when Manning has a big game. Only problem is, he hasn’t had too many of those of late. And we can blame that on the Giants’ brass and Ben McAdoo more than anyone else. Eli has been here everyday, showing up for work ready to go. The same cannot be said for the rest of the organization.

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Eli Manning has been under constant pressure the past few years with little to work with. (Photo credit: Andrew Mills | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

The Giants brought McAdoo in as their offensive coordinator in 2014 to help Eli raise his completion percentage. McAdoo had been Aaron Rodgers’ QB coach in Green Bay not realizing that Rodgers didn’t need a QB coach. Never has, never will. Rodgers can succeed in any offensive scheme, not just the Packers’. He has escapability, something Eli doesn’t have. McAdoo and his boss, Mike McCarthy,  were often bailed out by Rodgers’ improvisational style. When Rodgers got hurt last year, the Packers went 3-6 with Brett Hundley at QB as proof that their offensive plan sucks. It’s all about Rodgers’ ability.

McAdoo installed that short passing game here in New York, one which he knew did not fit around Eli’s big-play style. I called it “horizontal”, which is diametrically opposed to a “vertical” passing game. Eli is a vertical, downfield passer. Always has been. By putting him in a short passing offense, the Giants emasculated him. That’s why his numbers suck the past few year. And, by the way, his completion percentage didn’t get any better, either.

It didn’t help that the Giants failed to put a decent offensive line in front of him and completely abandoned the running game. Defenses would salivate over playing the Giants and their truncated passing route tree. They would jam the box with all eleven players knowing the Giants had no designs on spreading the field. They stopped the run and the pass. They also put constant pressure on Manning.

The results were disastrous. McAdoo never adjusted, either. Eli was left to throw four yard passes to receivers who would either be covered, dropped the ball or got hit immediately. With no possibility of play-action, defenses would be all over the Giants in the box making moving the football nearly impossible. The hope was that the receiver would catch the ball and then make a defender or two miss to gain extra yards. Odell Beckham, Jr. did this quite often but to ask him to consistently create magic was unreasonable.

Then, after OBJ got hurt in early October last season, the Giants were left with very little for Manning to work with. In my opinion, he did the best he could. Rivers or Rothelisberger would have fared no better given the scrubs they surrounded Eli with, not to mention the flawed offensive scheme.

McAdoo’s solution was to sit Manning in favor of Jets reject Geno Smith. That was the wrong move at the wrong time and it cost him, GM Jerry Reese and others their jobs.

After finishing sixth in points in 2015 (averaging 26.2 per game), the league caught up to McAdoo. The Giants have been shut down ever since. In 2016, they went 11-5 but it was on the back of their defense. The offensive production sunk to 19.4 points per game. Last year, they bottomed out with a paltry 15.4 average. Only lowly Cleveland was worse.

With McAdoo gone, the Giants are loosening the shackles on Manning and opening up their offense again. They hired coaches who had actually called plays and game planned in this league in head coach Pat Shurmur and OD Mike Shula. They revamped their offensive line and added a stud weapon in the draft in RB Saquon Barkley. In drills at OTAs, Manning is throwing the football deeper and with more authority.

Eli is poised for a big season. He’s looking at another 4,500 yard season with a spike n big plays and TDs. In fact, I’ll bet the rest of my hair on it.

They usually don’t give the Comeback Player of the Year award to players who have underperformed the prior season or seasons. But in Eli’s case, given his circumstances, he’s a candidate this year. He’s not done. In fact, he might be just beginning.

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