It's no secret that New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has had a down 2012 campaign. Fans were spoiled with his impeccable play behind a shaky offensive line last season, and Manning came into this year with expectations through the roof. Those expectations may have been unfair, but then again he is a two-time Super Bowl MVP. We should expect consistent greatness from him, and he hasn't delivered that so far this season.
However, despite the statistical shortcomings and the second half slide the Giants fell into again in 2012, Manning is as confident as ever heading into a crucial Week 16 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
“Whether you’ve played your best game or your worst game, each week you go in confident,” Manning said today. “You know you have the ability and you know you can make plays. Even from last week, you can draw from the good plays, you can draw on the good drives that you had. We didn’t make the big plays in the game. This week, hopefully it’s different. Hopefully, we’ll be ready and go out there to make those plays.”
The Giants missed on three fourth-down conversions last week in Atlanta. Manning completed just 13 of 25 passes for 161 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. It was the second consecutive game in which Manning threw multiple interceptions. The Eli Manning of 2012 has not lived up to the expectations put upon him by last year's version.
However, the Giants don't even need Eli to play with the heroic mental fortitude that he portrayed a year ago. Big Blue's offensive line has improved and the rushing attack is more consistent. All the Giants need from Eli is for him to take what the defense gives him. Unless the situation calls for it, Manning needs to stop forcing throws where nobody is open. The turnovers must stop and he needs to be more accurate with his deep throws. Easier said than done, but it's what has to happen for the Giants to attain the level of success that fans expect from them this season. Manning echoed these sentiments to the media earlier today.
“I think every game, you go in wanting to play well,” Manning said. “As the quarterback, you have the ball in your hands on every play. You’ve got to make good decisions, you’ve got to convert on third downs, and you’ve got to throw the ball well, get completions. When we get in the red zone, make good decisions, have good plays and get good production. So, a lot of the things are going to be what I can do, what our teammates can do, it all comes around to everyone doing their own responsibility. Everybody’s got to play well and do their job. All you can do is understand the game plan, understand what my responsibilities are, what my reads are and go out and make them.”
As we've talked about before at Giants 101, the outcome of the Giants 2012 campaign is going to fall on the right arm of Eli Manning. If he breaks out of his shell and plays lights out for the rest of the season, it would greatly improve Big Blue's title chances. However, all he really needs to do is stop turning the ball over and connecting on more deep passes. The Giants offense is built upon big passing plays and those plays have been open in recent games, but Eli has overthrown his receivers on nearly every opportunity.
Eli's legacy with Big Blue is solidified. He's already the best quarterback ever to put on a Giants uniform, even if he never throws another pass. However, for this years team to be successful, Manning has to step up his play. The Giants backs are to the wall on the road in Baltimore on Sunday, so it's now or never for the ninth-year veteran out of Ole Miss.
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