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What Does Eli Manning Have To Do?

November 19, 2012

I honestly thought we had moved on from this discussion, but I’ve been writing and talking about it all week, so I guess I was wrong.  Thanks to Phil Simms, the question of whether or not Eli Manning is an “elite” quarterback lives on and that doesn’t make me very happy.

I understand Simms needs to maintain a position of neutrality.   I also respect him as a commentator and for everything he did while playing for the Giants.  In short, I’m a huge Phil Simms fan.  I cried when the Giants retired his number.  Yet, what he said makes me mad.

If almost anyone else had said it or if it wasn’t the bye week, this story would have blown over by now, but it hasn’t.  Thus, I am compelled to defend the current Giants quarterback.

What does Eli have to do?  Win another Super Bowl?  Lead another fourth quarter comeback?  And what is the benefit of stoking a fire that had gone out?  When Eli beat Tom Brady and the Patriots, for a second time, in four years, by completing a pass that only a few quarterbacks could make in a drive that only a few quarterbacks could lead, he proved that he deserves to be named alongside the sport’s best—the elite.

Simms’ argument hinges on his definition of the word elite.  He was quoted in Ralph Vacchiano’s article for the NY Daily News as having said, “No, he is not one of the elites…because when I hear the word elite, I’m thinking about guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves. There are very few quarterbacks in that category.”

Let’s break this down.  “Guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves.”  I believe Phil is referring to guys like Aaron Rodgers who are more mobile than Manning.  Eli is not fast.  He is never going to be fast.  He is not the same type of quarterback that Aaron Rodgers is, but Eli has his own highly developed, proven set of skills.

Also, there is no “I” in team, and last I checked football was a team sport.  Even when Rodgers or Roethlisberger are able to scramble to extend plays or gain yards, they are not accomplishing these feats on their own.  Plus, when a quarterback throws a pass someone has to catch it.

Receivers can have off days.  So can quarterbacks or entire teams, but Eli hangs in there when many would give up and go home.  This season, he didn’t let throwing four interceptions stop him against Tampa Bay.  In the 2011 NFC Championships, he was knocked to the ground on almost every other play, but he never lost his cool.  The conditions were rough, but he didn’t try to force anything.  He kept his team in the game by not making any mistakes.

Beyond all this, Eli Manning is responsible for arguably the greatest, most “unbelievable” play in Super Bowl history.  He should have been sacked.  Three or four Patriots defenders had surrounded him.  Several hands pulled on his jersey trying to drag him down, but somehow, all by himself, Eli Manning escaped.

Also, he was playing one of the best football teams ever with one of the best quarterbacks ever, in the Super Bowl, and he didn’t let that pressure get to him.  His ability to stay cool under fire is what makes Eli Manning an elite quarterback, and, if he has to, he can prove it again this season by shaking off this “slump” and leading his team to the playoffs.

I say “slump” in quotes, because I don’t believe Eli is fully to blame for how the Giants have performed lately.  The whole team is in a slump.  This is how the Giants play in November.  Do I like it?  No.  Do I wish it would change?  Yes, but if the Giants continue to have the type of success that they do in December, January and February, I can learn to live with a lousy November.

I also don’t understand what is to be gained, other than ratings, from this discussion.  However, I know that the Giants and particularly Eli Manning thrive on adversity.  In that case, thanks Phil for stirring the pot.  Perhaps, Manning and the rest of the Giants will wake-up from their November slumber a little earlier this season and return to playing their best football.  If that was your intention all along than kudos, although I don’t think Eli needs you or me, for that matter, fighting his battles for him.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jumpingpolarbear permalink
    November 19, 2012 6:35 pm

    When he brings in another Superbowl ring this season, there will be nobody left questioning him ;).

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