5 Reasons Why Eli Manning is the Leading MVP Candidate Right Now.
The NFL MVP discussion is always a controversial one. What does being the MVP of the NFL mean? With football being such a team sport, how do you define the most important player in the league? Is it simply the best player on the best team, or is it the player who is absolutely irreplaceable? I'd like to think it's a combination of those two things, but more often than not it goes to the quarterback of one of the top regular season teams.
I have no issue with that. The quarterback is the most important position on the field and rarely do teams win the Super Bowl unless they have an elite quarterback. There are obviously exceptions to that rule, but if you look back at history it is very rare to find a Super Bowl champion without a great quarterback.
The New York Giants have a pretty good quarterback that, up until recently, was never really considered an MVP type player. Eli Manning has changed the perception of him in the past two years with his incredibly clutch play and his eye-popping yardage numbers. He's still hovering around the 27-30 touchdown range (31 in 2010, 29 in 2011 and on pace for 27 in 2012), but the Giants are relying on him a bunch more to move the ball between the 20's.
I honestly felt like Manning did not get enough consideration for the MVP in 2011 considering he was winning games despite having the league's worst rushing attack and the 27th ranked defense. Obviously that was due to Aaron Rodgers having one of the greatest seasons by a quarterback in NFL history. He completely deserved to win the award.
As of right now it would seem to be a two-horse race between Manning and Rodgers, with maybe Brian Urlacher and J.J. Watt coming in just behind them. Here are five reasons why Manning should be considered the front runner right now.
His Stats are Among the League Leaders
Manning is 10th in QB rating, second in Total QBR (which takes into account several external factors and is a better measure of the QB), seventh in touchdowns, first in yards and fifth in yards per attempt.
The Giants' running game has been sporadic all season long but Manning has remained consistent, moving the ball and giving the Giants a top five offense. The Giants are tied for third in points per game and second in yards per game.
Ever since Tiki Barber retired in 2006 and Jeremy Shockey demanded a trade after the 2007 season, the Giants have needed Manning to step into that leadership role you expect from a quarterback. He's done that and then some. Not only is he clearly leading by example (two Super Bowl rings, two Super Bowls MVPs), but he has also become THE voice in the offensive huddle.
Brandon Jacobs and now Ahmad Bradshaw have been the rah-rah guys on the sideline and before the game, but everyone knows Manning is the main leader. He sets a good example off the field as well by never getting into trouble, putting in the hours of film study and practicing hard every day.
Revolving Door at Wide Receiver
People like to say Manning is only so good because he has such talented wide receivers, but no one takes the time to think it may be because Manning makes them better. He works with them all the time in the off-season, helps bring them along in the offense and makes sure they know when they've messed up but doesn't get down on them, only let's them know so they can fix their mistakes. He also has such command of the offense and makes adjustments at the line of scrimmage to put his weapons in the best position to make plays.
Players like Kevin Boss and Steve Smith were such weapons in the Giants offense, but have done absolutely nothing after leaving New York. Also, when Hakeem Nicks missed games due to injury, Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle have each stepped into bigger roles and had great games. Only a great quarterback can lose his best wide receiver and play well without missing a beat.
You always have to take into account the success of the team when looking at the MVP race, and the Giants are sitting pretty right now at 5-2, the third best record in the NFC. They are also first in their division by 1.5 games with a big matchup with the Dallas Cowboys coming up this weekend.
The defense is banged up but still playing well and the running game has had its moments. If the Giants can put everything together and win 11-12 games on the year, Manning will definitely remain in the MVP discussion.
He is the Most Clutch QB in the League
Is there any question that Manning is the most clutch quarterback in the league? Maybe the team does often put him in the position where they have to come back, and that can get frustrating at times, but so often Manning comes through when the Giants need him the most. He did it again this past weekend against the Washington Redskins.
Robert Griffin III threw a touchdown pass to put the 'Skins up by three with about a minute and a half to play, but Manning was not about to be undone. On just the second play of the next drive, Manning hit Victor Cruz with a perfect strike and Cruz went 77-yards to pay dirt. The coverage ended up being terrible, but the anticipation from Manning to see Cruz breaking through double coverage and the throw in the swirling winds was amazing.
Let's also not forget about the heroic effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, where Manning orchestrated 25 points in the fourth quarter and brought the Giants from down 11 points down to win the game.
There is no one playing better in the clutch than Manning since the start of 2011. It marked his eighth game-winning drive since last year and the seventh game-winning touchdown pass in the same time frame. If you include the playoffs, he has nine game-winning drives in the Giants last 27 games. That's remarkable.