New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is clearly one of the NFL's most talented quarterbacks. He has elite arm strength, pinpoint accuracy and improved pocket awareness that has enabled him make plays down the field through questionable offensive line play. At times, Eli is as good as they come. However, as we saw on Sunday, he is not above reverting back to his early days when mind numbingly inconsistent performances plagued the Giants offense.
Eli Manning's quarterback rating has dropped each of the last five games. After posting a 103.3 rating against the lowly Cleveland Browns, Eli has played worse each week since then. Last Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Manning completed just 10 of 24 passes for a mere 125 yards, which was good for a quarterback rating of 41.1. To put that in perspective, Eli's career quarterback rating is 82.4. Granted, the competition has improved, but the Eli Manning that most Giants fans know raises his level of play and leads his team to victory when the game is on the line.
The Giants carried a 20-10 lead into the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, the offense went three-and-out on each fourth quarter possession and Big Blue's defense wore down against the Steelers' relentless rushing attack. The Giants uncharacteristically squandered a game in which they had a chance to win in the latter stages.
Eli Manning performance in the final quarter had a lot to do with the Giants' loss. He was unable to connect with his receivers down the field, there were several miscommunications on what routes should be run and Eli held onto the ball too long in the pocket at times. However, the Giants quarterback does not have a grasp on what is holding back this previously explosive offense.
“I don’t feel out of rhythm,” Manning said. “I don’t feel like I’m missing guys. I think it’s just a matter of getting back to where, offensively, we’re playing fast and making good decisions.”
Hakeem Nicks' health has been an issue this season. Furthermore, the offensive line has been shaky at times. However, these are issues that Manning dealt with last season as he led the Giants to their fourth Super Bowl title. Eli has been the one player on the Giants who has always been able to perform against quality competition through adverse circumstances. He has not shown that same moxie in recent weeks, as he has thrown five interceptions in his last five games.
Eli will get back on track. He's too talented to play like this for a prolonged period of time, and perhaps it's better that he gets these performances out of the way early before the playoffs start. However, the Giants franchise player must improve his decision making, his receivers must get open with more consistency, and the rushing attack must force defenses to keep a safety around the line of scrimmage. The Giants offense does not need to be revamped, but the players must begin executing within the system for this team to have a chance at repeating. It all starts with Eli Manning.
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