Eli Manning: The Giants Problem Behind the Problem

In the past few weeks a New York Sports writer found it necessary to take shots at Giants quarterback, Eli Manning.  The argument presented had no earth shattering metrics to back up the writers statement.

While an opinion is fine and somewhat fun on many levels, a seasoned New York journalist who has a ton of research at his fingertips should be able to support his opinion with more than just a passer rating.

There are only 1900 people in the world who can say they have obtained a job playing football for NFL.  That is an accomplishment in itself.  Winning in the Nation Football League is another.   It’s not easy, in fact…one could say winning in the NFL is rare.

Eli Manning had a very bad year, that is obvious; however, one needs to drill down a bit to explore why it was so bad.  Manning played behind an ever revolving offensive line with a long list of injuries and athletic flaws.  This unit gave up 40 sacks in 2013.

Wil Beatty – the Giants left tackle gave up 13 sacks in 2013, 10 in 12 games, and 3 sacks against Carolina.   He is just not a left tackle.  Jared Allen, former Viking sacked Eli with one hand as Beatty tried to pass block.  Jerry Reese over paid the tackle from Connecticut who never played against elite college defensive ends.

Kevin Boothe – the journeyman had been one of the better players on the O-Line; however, between a revolving door at center and his lack of power at the line of scrimmage his blocking left little holes for the running game.  This forced Eli Manning to throw the ball more often.  He was more effective as a center.

David Baas – Baas was the worst free agent signing in the Jerry Reese tenure.   San Francisco dropped this guy as soon as they figured out he couldn’t play. His pass blocking skills were down right horrible and he lunged at blockers in the running game.   Baas was frequently over powered and injured on a regular balance.

Chris Snee – The Pro Bowl Guard never recovered from hip surgery.  Over the last two years the lack of a good center hurt his play and injuries forced him out for the year.

James Brewer, Jim Cordle, and David Diehl were players who saw significant time but were past their prime or never had one.

Justin Pugh was the only lineman that is worth praise.  As a rookie he stood tall and contributed.  The big man has serious fight in him and over the season his footwork improved dramatically. Bottom line is you can’t throw the ball from your back, so keeping Eli upright is important.  Pugh ranked the highest among all rookie offensive lineman.

The “problem behind the problem” is more than just the porous offensive line, it’s the architect behind the offense…Kevin Gilbride.  The Giants system was always bad; however good lineman and top receivers like Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Shockey made it look proficient. 

One would expect that when a quarterback and his offensive coordinator have been together for 10 years they would be a flawless, a well oiled machine. However, that was the furthest thing from the truth. 

After 10 years, over 216 NFL games and tens of thousands of practice hours, the Giants offensive play STILL arrived late to the huddle.  This consistently resulted in unnecessary penalties and botched plays. The approach was predictable and mundane.  

Many conversations have been had regarding how the Giants had not changed their offensive line blocking calls in 10 years and every team in the league had figured out. 

Diving a little deeper one might explore the scheme.  Why was Brandon Myers, Travis Beckum, Louis Murphy and Ramses Barden so bad?  Why did it take Jerrell Jernigan three years to finally turn on the switch?

Talent is a big part of the equation, but something simple as running to a spot and catching the ball was over looked for a decade.  Eli Manning’s success was determined on a receiver releasing from the line of scrimmage, determining the defense, reading the defenders body language and then making a decision which way the route should go…all while having enough time to throw the ball.

Seriously…that premise is just plain stupid.   Kevin Gilbride’s is famous for the “Run and Shoot” and getting punched in the face by Buddy Ryan. How did the offense work all those years?  A little luck, a lot of skill and a ton of over-achieving.

The biggest factor in Eli Manning’s success over the years was selfishness and consistency. Great athlete’s like Burress, Shockey, Toomer, Nicks, and Cruz are selfish.  They run the route tree with the mindset of getting open on the break.  They know what works, which in turn, makes Eli’s job easier. 

The magic for the quarterback is knowing where the receiver is going to be, time and time again. When those players were not on the field, Eli Manning was swallowed with a list of intangibles that even Joe Montana could not over come.

Ben McAdoo has changed all of that.  Thank the football Gods.

Passer ratings don’t win Super Bowls, nor do they account for a terrible O-line and dropped balls, nor do they count how many receiver ran the wrong pattern.  Just saying that there are so many factors to Eli Manning’s down two years. 

I guess that’s why it’s so rare to be a quarterback in the NFL and much easier to be a writer with an opinion.  Where’s the accountability?   Blogs are fun, but knocking Eli Manning and his credentials after 10 years is just not a story and frankly amateur.

The problem behind the problem.

 Posted by Craig J. Santucci | Managing Editor

@CraigSantucci

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