After eight consecutive seasons as an ever-present, questions are finally arising over the status of Eli Manning as the New York Giants‘ starting quarterback.
Manning has been at the helm for each of the 133 regular season games since his sophomore season back in 2005 and has accumulated 11 postseason games along the way. Eli is a regular sporting juxtaposition. He has been known to give polar opposite performances, often in the same game; he opened this season with 450 passing yards and four touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys but marred his own brilliance with three interceptions that cost the Giants the game. This has happened one too many times for a quarterback who by his own admission considers himself to be “elite”, but just when you think he is finally proving his army of doubters correct, he goes and does something fairly significant like winning a Super Bowl for instance.
Manning has provided sports telecasters and production teams with hours of A-grade debate material over the years. The fact he has more World Championships than his older brother Peyton Manning technically makes him more successful, though it is widely considered ludicrous that their abilities as a quarterback should even be mentioned in the same breath. But that’s another story for another day.
The 2013 regeneration of Eli Manning is the one that the wolves at the door have been waiting for: he leads the NFL in interceptions, his Giants team leads the league in turnovers and there is also the small matter of the 0-5 record that looms ominously above them. Manning is on course to throw more picks this season than he does touchdown passes which is unheard of for a quarterback of such elevated status and his body language has all the stature of a rabbit in the headlights, something that is seriously affecting his decision making under center. Nevertheless there is always that anomaly embedded in the layers of negativity; while Manning looks devoid of most of his previous traits he remains 6th in overall passing yardage.
One place Eli has never been in his career is at 0-5 as a starting quarterback. With everybody looking for answers amidst the turmoil, the inevitable question marks have begun to arise over the status of the one that has touched the ball the most during the five miserable losses this season. The most recent defeat — a 36-21 defeat to Philadelphia Eagles — seemed the last straw for Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “It all comes down to the interceptions,” Coughlin said, per the New York Daily News. The head coach later went on to describe Manning’s decision making as “unbelievable”, the first sign that Coughlin’s evergreen belief in his trigger man may be waning.
Coughlin’s comments naturally sent the rumor mill into overdrive earlier today with many critics suggesting Eli Manning would be benched in order to send a message. Would it send a positive message? Yes, it would prove that nobody is served immunity on their name alone and that production is still very much a part of the selection process. Arguments for would be that the Giants now have nothing more to lose given that their season is essentially a write-off. Though they may still mathematically have a chance in the mediocre NFC East, realistically they are finished.
So on the bombshell question should Eli Manning be benched ahead of this Thursday’s meeting with the Chicago Bears? Yes but conditionally, only if Ryan Nassib (who is yet to suit up this season) can step in. Rookie quarterbacks have made quite a noise in the NFL over the past few seasons, and there may be no better time to bed your young blood than when pressure and expectation is at an all-time low. As the Giants’ fourth-round pick in the NFL Draft this year, the former Syracuse star is potentially looking at 11 games to express himself.
The immediate backup for the position is Curtis Painter who last appeared in the NFL in the 2011 season. Ironically, he stood in for Peyton Manning then of the Indianapolis Colts and endeavored to lose every single one of his games. We’re siding with the notion of out of the frying pan and into the fire in terms of Painter stepping up.
The likelihood is that given the short week Tom Coughlin will remain unmoved. However, with the Giants getting deeper into uncharted waters as the weeks roll on, benching Eli Manning may not be the knee-jerk reaction that is prior to now it has always seemed.