Eli Manning has had some bad games for a Giants team that is struggling but still could muster a playoff run.
What else is new?
That description is not unique to the 2016 NFL season, in which the Giants (2-3) enter Sunday afternoon’s visit from the Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at MetLife Stadium on a three-game losing streak.
It is the story of Manning’s career and of the Giants’ history with him as their franchise quarterback.
Manning’s off-and-on play is not a sign that age is slowing him down. On the contrary, Manning, 35, has never been more himself. That could either assure or worry Giants fans, depending on how they look at it.
“I think it’s important for everyone to know that I have his back,” coach Ben McAdoo said Friday. “We’re committed to him. He’s played great football here. He’s a champion. He’s a leader.”
Most of that is true. Manning hasn’t always played great football here, though.
This is the quarterback who threw four interceptions on Thanksgiving weekend 2007 – three of which were returned for touchdowns in a 41-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings – and then led the Giants to a Super Bowl.
He followed up a 2007 regular season of a 73.9 QB rating, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, with a postseason of 95.7 QB rating, six TDs and one INT, winning four straight and toppling the mighty Patriots.
Manning has won 99 of 188 career regular season games (52.6%) for a win percentage slightly better than the odds of a coin flip, yet he has won eight of 11 playoff games for a staggering 72.7% postseason clip.
The Giants have made the playoffs in fewer than 50% of Manning’s seasons as a starter (5-of-11). They have been one-and-done in the postseason three times (2005, 2006, 2008), and they have not made the playoffs since Manning won his second Super Bowl in 2011.
Translation: Manning, at any age, has a well-documented history of stumbling in the regular season, including 25 interceptions in 2010 and 27 in 2013. Last week’s loss in Green Bay was the latest example.
“It is just a matter of still executing and playing at a high level, and we didn’t do that,” Manning said of his inaccurate performance, hurt also by an overmatched offensive line and a zero-catch outing from Victor Cruz.
Manning completes just nine passes last week in Green Bay.
The fact that Manning’s age has become a topic of conversation leading up to this game against the Ravens, frankly, is only evidence that the NFL media is as much of a copycat business as the NFL is a copycat league.
The number one sign of a deteriorating QB body would be less zip on Manning’s fastball. There has been no evidence of that, not even in Green Bay. His problems were happy feet and overthrows, not velocity.
Manning’s age wasn’t a topic of conversation in Week 1 in Dallas, when he was slinging the ball all over the field at AT&T Stadium for three touchdowns to Larry Donnell, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz, and a 45-yard completion down the sideline to Odell Beckham Jr.
It wasn’t a topic in Week 2 against the Saints, when Manning was 32-for-41 passing with a 78 percent completion percentage and two passes to Beckham that should have been touchdowns.
Manning’s age also wasn’t at topic in Dallas after – regardless of Shepard’s wrong turn on a route – the QB threw a mind-numbing interception to start the second-half. Know why?
Because that is who Manning is: A player with great talent prone to excellence but also to bad mistakes.
The Lombardi Trophies make it easy to forget, but even in 2011, Manning threw at least one interception in eight consecutive games from Weeks 9-16 that season. That included no TDs and three picks in a 23-10 loss to Washington in Week 15.
He was then 9-for-27 with an interception the next week but hit Cruz for that unforgettable 99-yard TD pass in the second quarter of a win over the Jets. The Giants wouldn’t lose another game that entire season.
Manning’s 2007 Giants (10-6) set the NFL record for worst regular season record by a Super Bowl champion. Manning’s 2011 Giants (9-7) broke their own record four years later.
This season’s 2-3 record doesn’t mean the Giants are done. Manning’s errant throws don’t mean he’s too old.
It’s simply vintage Manning and Giants, and history shows they are not reasons to count him – or them – out.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News