There is a new breath of air at New York Giants training camp this season. With a new offense being put into place and plenty of new faces in the building, there are also new responsibilities and goals being set. One person with heightened expectations is Eli Manning. On Monday new quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf challenged Manning to complete 70 percent of his passes. Will Manning be able to reach the lofty goal set by his coach?
Just looking at the amount of players who have completed 70 percent of their passes in a season would show Manning is looking at an uphill battle. Only six players have done it: Drew Brees twice, Ken Anderson, Sammy Baugh, Steve Young, Joe Montana and Alex Smith.
The fact that this goal is nearly impossible to maintain throughout a full 16-game season is the first reason to doubt it. Baugh played in only eight of the 10 games in 1945, Anderson played in nine games due to the strike and Smith’s was in 10 games as he was benched for Colin Kaepernick.
Also looking at Manning’s career numbers, 70 percent is a number that does not sound like an attainable goal. Last season he completed only 57.5 percent of his passes, his lowest since 2007. He only reached the 70 percent plateau twice all of last season in games.
2013 was a down year for Manning, but even when he had his best season completion percentage wise, it was at 62.9 percent in 2010. According to ESPN, Manning would have needed to complete 39 more passes, 2.4 per game, to reach 70 percent in his career-high 2010 season. That does not sound like a lot from the outside, but there is more that goes into it than just Manning throwing the passes.
He needs to get production from his receivers, something that is not guaranteed. Beyond Victor Cruz, the Giants have some question marks at wide receiver; Rueben Randle still needs to prove he is reliable, and first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. is already battling injury. Right now tight end is even worse off for the Giants, as there is no reliable pass-catching threat at the position on the roster currently. Add in the fact the Giants still have an unsettled offensive line and are learning the nuances of a brand new offense, and it seems unfathomable for Manning to reach the 70 percent goal.
This is a good motivational tool by the coaching staff to try and get Manning back on track. Changing Manning’s playing style from what helped him and the Giants win two Super Bowls into the dink-and-dunk offense someone like Smith played wouldn’t make much sense. Manning’s ability to take and make the gutsy throws many other players in the NFL wouldn’t attempt is what separates him from other quarterbacks in the league.
At the end of the day, Langsdorf and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s goal is turn the Giants offense into a more efficient, lower turnover unit. If Manning falls short of the 70 percent by say five, that would still be a huge improvement over last season and set a new career high. 70 percent gives Manning a number to aim for, but if he comes up a little bit short it should still be considered a success as a new career high will be set and the Giants’ offense will surely be more successful.