When it comes to Eli Manning no news is good news. As we’ve seen over the last two games, a competent Eli Manning and a successful New York Giants team go hand-in-hand.
The theory is in fact very simple; Manning, the most-intercepted quarterback in the NFL, goes two games without tossing a pick and the Giants improve to 2-6 on the season. I am by no means suggesting that Manning is the sole contributor towards the victories, especially given the fact the Giants defense has recorded two-straight offensive shutouts, but he is a key ingredient to the impossible dream that lies ahead for Big Blue.
The Giants have not registered a touchdown reception in either of their two wins this season. In fact, all of their 15 points in the most recent victory against the Philadelphia Eagles came via the boot of Josh Brown. So what exactly is Manning even being credited with? He came up touchdown-free in both outings with modest figures of 200 and 246 passing yards respectively, against opposition that has struggled to defend the pass all season. On the surface Eli is struggling, but inside he is motoring and getting steadily back into his groove.
After being hounded for leading the league in interceptions through the first eight weeks of the season, Manning has stripped his game down and gone back to basics. The offensive line have stepped up their protection, and in turn Manning has finally been given the insurance of a run-game in the form of Peyton Hillis. We’ve not seen a single interception during the last two weeks, which is a big deal even for a quarterback of his vaunted caliber. Manning is taking less risks in the passing game, and as a result the Giants are winning more games despite the drop in numbers.
Stellar achievements should always be recognized no matter what your opinion of the player in question. During the Giants’ Week 8 victory in Philly, Manning surpassed the legendary Phil Simms‘ record to become the Giants’ career passing yardage leader. This latest achievement is just another string to the bow for a man who already owns the franchise records in passing attempts, completions and touchdowns. If Eli needed any motivations for the rest of the season, being the most decorated quarterback in Giants’ history should just about do the trick.
Whilst Manning has flown under the radar in recent weeks, that is precisely how head coach Tom Coughlin would want it to be. It would be foolish to suggest that Manning is about to step up and challenge the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and his brother Peyton every week for the rest of the season, but at the same time that is not what’s required. If Manning can continue to limit his mistakes and keep on ticking over, the W’s will come.
Let’s take the last three Super Bowl champions for example: The Baltimore Ravens, the 2011 Giants and the Green Bay Packers, none of which topped a 10-6 regular season record. They each had one thing in common; they got hot when it really mattered. It might seem ludicrous to even think with this mentality let alone publish it, but as the 2012 Denver Broncos, 2011 Packers and 2010 New England Patriots have recently found out you can peak too soon.
The Giants are now just two games off-the-pace in their division and daring to dream of another precedent-setting improbable comeback on the season. There is nobody more equipped to thrive in that situation than one Eli Manning.