Posted in New York Football Giants, Uncategorized

The Book of Eli-Last Chapters.

The pinnacle of Eli Manning’s career was the magical 2011 season.  The Giants won a Super Bowl because of the superb play by Eli Manning.  His regular season stat line:

Att Comp Yards Cp % Td Int y/a yds/gm sacks qbr 4cb gwd
589 359 4933 61 29 16 8.4 308.3 28 67.1 7 8

Since this 2011 season, Eli has not matched or eclipsed these statistics.  Hands down, this was his best season as a professional.  What has happened since 2011?

The above beating in this NFC Championship game (hit 18 TIMES) and in the seasons that followed has taken a toll on the Giants iron man (199 regular season starts). Despite not missing a start since being under center in 2004,  Manning’s statistics have declined after the 2011 season. With his slow demise, the Giants have struggled.  Since the 2011 Super Bowl season, the Giants have made the playoffs once in SIX years.  Last year, the Giants made the playoffs because:

1. They were healthy for once. They did not lead the league in games lost to injury.

2.  DEE-FENSE.

We adjusted the Giants points scored last year from 19.4 points per game to 16 points per game. We threw out the blocked field goal scored against the Saints and the garbage touchdown against the Steelers. Is the offense broken again? Or is it limited because our beloved quarterback is on his last legs?

Let us go back to the 2012 season. Ron Jaworski , former NFL quarterback and expert analyst, made these arresting headlines.  

NFL Films guru Greg Cosell mentioned on Friday’s Yahoo! Week Ten preview podcast that Manning’s struggles may be due to a “tired arm,” 318 throws into his ninth NFL season. And not only has it been evident on game tape, but Cosell and ESPN’s Ron Jaworski confirmed with someone in the know that Eli’s arm is tired.

“Ron Jaworski and I were having this conversation this week,” Cosell said. “I looked at Eli on Monday; Jaws looked at Eli on Wednesday, and he made a very interesting comment. It really struck me – and I would defer to Jaws on this because I’ve never taken snaps in the NFL – it looks to him like Eli’s arm is a little tired. He’s not driving the ball at the intermediate and deeper levels the way we’ve come to expect because Eli has a strong arm.

“And we even got that sort of confirmed by someone who’s a lot closer to the situation. His arm’s a little bit tired right now. He’s missed some throws that he would normally make.”

Keep in mind, since the Giants were bereft of a running game in 2011( 32nd in offensive rushing) and 2012(14th in offensive rushing), the Giants had to rely on Eli to get things done in 2011. In 2012, the Giants improved rushing wise and Eli struggled. With a 9-7 record in 2012, the Giants failed to make the playoffs.

The subsequent season 2013 was a nightmare for the Giants and their fans.   They lost their first SIX games. They finished with a 7-9 record and more importantly, owner John Mara called the team’s offense broken.  

John Mara said that the Giants offense, the one that finished 28th in yards per game, 28th in points per game, 19th in passing yardage and 29th in rushing, was “broken” and placed it atop his to-do list this offseason.

I think our offense is broken right now and we need to fix that. We need to make some improvements on defense, too, but obviously the offensive side of the ball, we have to improve there. We can’t go into next season with the same personnel.
– John Mara

Mara went on to say that the offensive line was his biggest concern heading into the season, one that was only exacerbated after Chris Snee and David Baas were injured. The patchwork unit led to a career high in sacks and interceptions for Eli Manning.

As a result of this horrendous year, New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride “resigned.” Although Gilbride was one of the reasons for the Giants failures on offense, Giants GM Jerry Reese did not help by neglecting the offensive line. Chris Snee and David Baas were hurt, but the Giants did NOT have contingency plans. Another takeaway is Manning took a beating that year. He was sacked 39 times. 

After making a change in 2014 with a new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, the Giants and Eli Manning improved on offense.

Five weeks into the 2014 season, it became obvious: Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo was the Steve Spagnuolo of 2007. Recall, after the 2006 season, the Giants were at a crossroads. Finishing the 2006 season with an 8-8 record, the Giants limped into the playoffs because of Tiki Barber’s outstanding effort against the Redskins in the last game of that season. They then lost a winnable playoff game against Philadelphia because the Giants defense could not stop the Eagles offense. For the most part, Tim Lewis’ defense was atrocious. Because the Giants were underachieving with talent, there were Giants writers who wanted head coach Tom Coughlin fired. Instead of terminating Coughlin, Giants management decided to retain Coughlin; however, they made a change at defensive coordinator. An unknown Philadelphia Eagles defense coach named Steve Spagnuolo became the man in charge of the Giants defense. After 2 games of the 2007 season, the new Giants defense under Spags looked worse than Lewis’ defense. Remember, the Giants surrendered 80 points in their first two games. Some called his defense the worst ever. Needless to say, under Spags’ leadership, the Giants defense got things turned around.They played spectacularly, holding the best offense ever, the 2007 Patriots, to 14 points. The outstanding play of the Giants defense resulted in a Lombardi trophy.

Flash forward to 2013, the Giants finished 7-9. They lost their first six games of the  campaign. It was a miserable season for the Giants, especially since there were expectations set by Giants management to play in the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. Remember Jerry Reese’s clock! Again, like vultures, the New York media were calling for Coughlin’s head. Like in 2006, the Giants kept Coughlin on as head coach. Because the offense was “broken.” a term used by Giants owner John Mara, changes had to be made. Long-time unimaginative OC Kevin Gilbride was forced to “retire”. Filling the void at OC, was a quarterbacks coach from Green Bay named Ben McAdoo. Without question, despite the poor drafting by Reese, it has been McAdoo’s creativity and attack philosophy which has made an enormous difference on this fledgling Giants team.

Although McAdoo made a difference,  the Giants finished the season 6-10. The Giants lost SEVEN straight games. This was on the defense. What McAdoo did was revive Eli’s career by having him get rid of the ball quickly and hit short passes. But since 2012, the Giants have been in decline.

The Giants have a record of 22-26. They have missed the playoffs three straight years. And management exclaimed to fans the Giants have a championship roster. Furthermore, they have a 8-10 record against NFC East foes. This is at a time when the division stinks. Of the Giants 26 losses, half of them have been by 15 points or more. Five of them were by 21 points or more. Wait. It gets better. They have been shut out FOUR times. They were 2-12 overall against playoff teams, but you can throw out the wins because they were against Tolzein and Barkley. (Playoff teams were Eagles, Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers, Seahawks, Panthers, Packers*, Lions, Cardinals, Dallas, Colts, and Seahawks in 2014). The combined score if you take into account 2-12 was 423-225 with an average of 30.2-16 score. If you throw out the garbage QB wins, it is 406-183 or 33.8 -15.2 average score. Now that is uncompetitive. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best, and they are a long way from that based on these numbers.

After two straight down years, Reese drafted center Weston Richburg with their second round pick in the 2014 draft. With all these problems with the offense, Reese did not support Eli with solid offensive line help.  In 2014,  Richburg played out of position at guard. Pete believes this was a setback for Richburg.  Since Reese could not ignore the offensive line problems, he reached in the first round of the 2015 draft.  He selected Tackle Ereck Flowers. This is what our Pete had to say about Flowers:

Over the last few days, two Giants beat writers NY Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano and ESPN’s Dan Graziano selected massive Miami OT Ereck Flowers in respective mock drafts. The 6’6″ 329lbs Flowers is undoubtedly a physical specimen. He would definitely meet the Bill Parcells litmus test for behemoth offensive linemen. Parcells loved guys up front to have long arms and wide buttocks. Takeaway his physical traits, is Flowers deserving to be a top 10 pick? I asked Pete Furman our draft and football expert:

Interestingly, when I wrote my thoughts and analysis on offensive linemen, Flowers did not pique my interest. He was not even an afterthought. So here are my thoughts on Flowers. Miami was a fair team but not great on either side of the ball. Some people love Ereck, but I don’t. Flowers is a big guy and the Giants sent the whole crew to his day! He is NOT a dominant player per his performance. He IS a huge man who someone will draft but NOT me, especially not at Nine. I think there are a few guys better in this draft, which we have discussed. As an aside, like Flowers, current Giants offensive lineman John Jerry was heralded when he came out of Ole Miss. Lot’s of folks liked him a lot, and you see where he is.

As Pete mentioned, the Giants brought their entire entourage to Miami. So is this a major clue for picking this unpolished NFL prospect? Indeed, without question, the Giants needed to add quality depth to their offensive line. With William Beatty getting up in age, especially his shoddy play, I get upgrading the offensive line. Remember, this is a Giants team which has been put on notice by owner John Mara. The Giants needed a guy at nine to make an impact. They have to win this year. But it is mindless thinking to believe Flowers is going to make the Giants better, and worthy of a top 10 pick.

The 2015 Giants can be described in two words:  Last Minute.  Meaning last minute losses.  

If each Giants game this season had ended with 75 seconds remaining in regulation on the scoreboard clock, the team’s record would be 9-3.

If a 75-second reprieve sounds like asking too much, how about letting the Giants skip the last 37 seconds of their 12 games? That would make the their record 8-4.

At that juncture with 12 games played the Giants were 5-7. Five games they blew.

They finished 2015 with a 6-10 record and another embarrassing season. Another year they wasted having Eli as their starting quarterback.

As Eli enters his 14th in the NFL,  the Giants have talked about resting him.  Even in this year’s draft, the Giants were interested in QB Patrick Mahomes.  Even though they did not nab Mahomes, the Giants drafted QB Davis Webb in the 3rd round.  What is this talk about the Giants resting Manning this season?  I asked Giants beat writer Patricia Traina.

Resting Eli Manning

If Eli Manning is going to play until he’s 40 years old, then he’s probably going to need additional rest along the way, right?

Pat Says: “Thanks for the question Glenn. I don’t know if Jaws made that observation based on film or got that direct from Eli (my guess is the former), but I can tell you that for the last three years, Eli has attempted 600 or more passes, about 50 or so more than he had averaged. So yes, I suppose to a degree his arm might have become weary.

If I had to guess about the plan to rest Eli, I would say besides giving him time off in the preseason, maybe Coach McAdoo pulls Eli out of those lopsided games to preserve his arm strength. But I think the biggest thing the Giants can do to help “rest” Eli is to get a running game going, which is why I think they invested so heavily in that aspect of the team this offseason.”

Per Pro Football Focus, Manning was 23 of 78 for 752 yards on deep balls of 20+ yards last year. Manning had six touchdowns and six interceptions on these passes. His receivers also dropped four passes.

It is my belief  Eli is at the end of his career. The fact the Giants offense struggled to score points in 2016 is indicative to Eli’s limitations. He struggles throwing deep balls because his arm is not what it used to be. Additionally, the offensive line in front of him cannot pass or run block.  So the Giants have this mixture of an aging quarterback plus a putrid offensive line. This does not bode well as the Giants enter the 2017 season.  It will be up to Eli to compensate for the offensive line if the Giants are going to the Super Bowl. Can he do it?

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Author:

New York Football Giants blogger since 2007. Appeared on ESPN radio, New York Times, Long Island sports talk 1240 am.

One thought on “The Book of Eli-Last Chapters.

  1. O.K.,I am probably going to take it for saying this but here at N.Y.Giants underground we pride ourselves on objectivity/facts. We “bleed blue” here.
    I suppose in many ways we are like parents. We love our children but perhaps,we are sometimes to hard on them. We like,respect,appreciate Eli as an exemplary man,a man to be proud of. He is the poster boy for how we feel about the responsibility,attitude of a professional athlete and honor him for what he has done.

    The problem for me is that I see Eli as an excellent Q.B.,I see him as a man who understands what the game has done for him,who honors his G-D given gifts and is how I view the men who made this game great. I do NOT however see Eli as a great Q.B. I see him as a very good,competent Q.B. whohas had a GREAT season,has had some good seasons,has never made trouble,has set an example but is not one of the greats.

    Maybe if the Giants had been a better,”Hall Of Fame organization Eli would have been a “Hall Of Fame” q.b. They weren’t,aren’t since Wellington passed an are synonymous with what has happened to the game.

    Eli says he wants to play until he is 40. That is three more years. I hope he doesn’t as others have done . Joe Montana for one is a pure example. Joe says he can hardly walk and suffers from his playing days. Joe was/is Hall of Fame as is Peyton. Eli needs to be wise and if this year is a repeat to retire with dignity.

    Liked by 1 person

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