Eli Manning needs help getting this done.
Welcome back to Monday Morning Manning, this is week three’s review. This week was rough for every Giant fan, many of whom share the disgust I have for the Philadelphia Eagles, but it was also Eli Manning’s best week. I’m sensitive to the fact that many Giants fans don’t want or need to replay every moment of that game over again in their minds, and I’m no different. With that in mind, we will focus on the 4 biggest throws of what was a 35 for 47 (74%), 3 touchdown 2 interception, 366-yard outing for our fearless leader.
It was clear from the first series of the game what the Giants game-plan would be concerning Eli. The offense was at a clear up-tempo pace throughout the game with an eye on quick releases and taking advantage of a depleted, secondary due to injuries. The Eagles played directly into the Giants game-plan with soft coverage that allowed for the free releases that the Giants WRs and QB were looking for.
The first play I want to analysis is a throw that occurred early on the in the game. In the second quarter, with 8 minutes left in the half, down 7-0 with the ball on the Eagles 42, and the Giants picking up momentum, the offense would falter.
The soft coverage I spoke about earlier was on display, but not in a positive way. The benefit of soft coverage allows the Eagles cornerbacks to become extremely difficult to beat downfield and in those corners deep. Despite that fact Eli decided it was time to take a shot to his tallest receiver, Brandon Marshall.
Marshall is a guy who’s shown ability to go up and get the ball at its high-point, many times over the top of a smaller CB. This seemed to be the exact idea Eli had in mind when he dropped back and unleashed a ball down the left side to No. 15. The ball was in stride, but not hugging the sideline. The Eagles cornerback was in great position. As the ball floated down the left side it was clear it was going to be a 50-50 ball with equal opportunity for Marshall or Douglas to catch it.
Unfortunately for Manning, Marshall didn’t seem to recognize this and either didn’t time the ball properly or simply couldn’t get the lift in the jump that he would want and the ball was intercepted inside the Eagles 5-yard line. Ending what was a promising start to a drive, and a promising start to the game for the Giants. Failed connection between Eli and Marshall.
The second play would occur in what would be the last drive of the first half. Right after Eli connected with Sterling Shepard for what was called on the field a Touchdown but later overturned, The Giants would line up for a third down play from the Eagles 2-inch line.
The play developed slowly and Eli threw a beautiful anticipatory ball to the left sideline of the end-zone as the receivers ran a combo route crossing the Eagles defense. The ball floated beautifully out of reach of any defenders and into the hands of Shepard. The ball hit his hands, he tapped his feet in the end-zone and took a third step before tumbling to the ground and into photographers. However Shepard wouldn’t keep control of the ball after slamming into the turf, outside the end zone. Despite a beautiful throw and catch(yes I said catch because let’s be honest, everyone with eyes would call it that), the rules say you must hold onto the ball through the ground, and basically you must get up with that ball in your hands. Shepard didn’t and the Giants would falter going for it on 4th down. Yes, a poor attempt at trying to stuff Darkwa in the end zone, sending them into the locker room at halftime with no points.
The next and last 2 throws ill address here had far more uplifting endings. Both throws would come in the 4th quarter. The first of which would come down 14-0, first and goal on the Eagles 10-yard line. Eli dropped back as Beckham ran a beautifully executed Sluggo (slant and go) route. Eli placed the ball beautifully over the top of the defense and onto the back line of the end-zone where Beckham would do the rest making a beautiful toe tapping catch in the back of the end-zone. This ball and the anticipation it took to complete were signs of Eli and his WR’s really being on the same page and Eli doing his part making the accurate throw. It was the first points on the board of the game for the Giants and the start of a great 4th quarter run.
The last throw I will cover was Eli’s best throw of the game. After tying the game with a good throw and absolutely masterful catch by Beckham, I would have been hard-pressed to tell you that Manning would complete an even more fantastic throw in this game. Eli would do just that, with 7:23 left in the 4th quarter from their own 23-yard line. It was 2nd and 9, the Eagles continued to display soft coverage as they had all day and Manning would complete one of many slant-route throws to Sterling Shepard.
This one was special and vintage Eli. After completing the slant to Shepard multiple times in the game, Eli had the utmost confidence in that route and specifically to that player. He would unleash a throw that can only be fully appreciated if you watch it from the camera set-up right behind Manning. From that perspective, you can see that although Eli had completed this route and throw throughout the game, this one had to be perfect.
The Eagles had to be starting to pick up on the slant route to Shepard, squeezing the coverage a bit tighter. It was still not tight enough as Manning’s throw would go driving through two out stretched sets of hands from underneath defenders and perfectly into the hands of Shepard who was in-stride and in front of the soft coverage. Shepard took the ball 77 yards to the house to take a 21-14 lead. The first lead of the day for the Giants.
The game wouldn’t end in the way Eli or anyone associated with the Giants would hope. None of that was on Eli though. Despite 2 interceptions on the day, Manning had his best performance of the year by a wide margin. He was on-point both mentally and physically. He shook off what was a disappointing first 3 quarters of not getting into the end-zone, and if his teammates had played with the mental focus that he had yesterday, he would have pulled off yet another amazing 4th quarter comeback. Something that has become a hallmark of his career and something Giants fans can look at and see he is still capable, when given the time, to make any throw or decision required to play QB at the highest level.