The New York Giants finished last season with a record of 5-11. The previous season, they finished with a record of 3-13. Much of the blame for the Giants being so bad over the last two seasons has gone to QB Eli Manning. Now being 38, many believe Manning’s time in New York should be over. Despite what many have to say about the two-time Super Bowl champion, Giants HC Pat Shurmur has said he expects Eli Manning to return next season.
After coming off back-to-back losing seasons, there’s a lot of speculation around the Giants taking a QB with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. While that is a possibility, it’s also a real possibility the Giants will pass on a QB this year. Regardless of if they do or don’t select a QB in the NFL Draft, Eli Manning will likely be the starting QB if he sticks around as expected.
After going 3-13 and 5-11, why would the Giants keep Eli Manning? Why do they still believe in him as their starting QB?
I’m not a Giants fan, but I’ve pondered these questions quite a bit this offseason. I haven’t really been sure why they’d keep him around. That was until I decided to take a closer look. What I discovered was actually surprising.
Why are the Giants sticking with Manning?
If there’s one thing I like to use in my articles, it’s numbers. When it comes to sports, I love numbers. So, the first thing I did to figure out why the Giants may be keeping Eli Manning, was look into the numbers.
Eli’s QB rating
Even though the Giants were 5-11 last season, Eli Manning had a QB rating of 92.4. His rating of 92.4 isn’t spectacular, but it is actually the 4th highest rating of his entire 15 year career in the NFL. Yeah, that’s right, only in three other seasons has Eli Manning been better than he was last season. Much of the blame for the Giants being so bad last year went to Eli Manning, but his QB rating tells us otherwise. We have to remember just how bad the defense was last season. They ranked 23rd in points allowed per game, giving up an average of 25.8 points.
What about the season before? In 2017, the Giants, led by Eli Manning, went 3-13. Manning’s QB rating was 80.4. Now that’s pretty bad. A little more blame could be placed on Manning here, but we also have to remember how many injuries the Giants had on offense. The Giants went into that season with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall as their two top receivers. Both of them got hurt early.
The Giants’ leading receiver that season ended up being rookie TE Evan Engram, who finished the season with 722 yards and six TDs. Some of the blame goes to Manning here, but most QBs would struggle without their top receivers. We saw Dak Prescott struggle without Amari Cooper to start this past season. We even saw Aaron Rodgers struggle for much of the season without his receiving options. I should also point out that Manning didn’t have Saquon Barkley in the backfield that season either. Also, the defense ranked 27th in the NFL in points allowed per game. Blame Manning for this 3-13 season if you want, but nothing went the Giants’ way that year.
Now we’ll go back to the 2016 season. In 2016, the Giants finished with a record of 11-5. What was Manning’s QB rating that season? It was 86.0. Manning’s QB rating in this 11-5 season was worse than Manning’s 92.4 rating during their most recent 5-11 season. Hmmm. Let’s look at why. The Giants were fairly healthy this season. Odell Beckham was there and Manning had his offense in place, but that wasn’t the real reason why this team went 11-5. This team went 11-5 because the defense ranked 2nd in points allowed per game, giving up an average of just 17.8 points.
Giants Super Bowl seasons
The Giants went 5-11 with Manning’s 4th highest QB rating, but went 11-5 with a rating of 86.0. As we just went over, the defense and players made the difference. This brings me to my next point, which has to do with the year’s in which the Giants won their two most recent Super Bowls.
2011 was the Giants’ most recent Super Bowl victory. During the course of the regular season, Manning had his 3rd highest QB rating, which was 92.9. His QB rating in a Super Bowl winning season was only 0.5 better than the year he had in this past 5-11 season.
Now let’s go back to 2007. This was the first time Eli Manning won a Super Bowl, but if you simply just looked at his QB rating from that season, you never would have guessed that. Manning had a QB rating of 73.9 that season. 73.9. That’s awful! That’s actually the 3rd worst QB rating of his career, but yet his team won the Super Bowl.
Why are the Giants sticking with Manning?
This brings me back to my question of why the Giants are keeping Manning around. They’re keeping him around because they’ve won two Super Bowls in year’s where he hasn’t been that good. A 92.9 QB rating is decent, but it’s not great. Again, 73.9 is just flat out bad! This is proof the Giants can win with Eli Manning as their starting QB, even if he is 38. Even as a 38 year old QB, Manning’s production hasn’t been any worse than it has been throughout the rest of his career.
The Giants can win with Eli Manning, regardless of how he performs. The real reason why they haven’t been winning over the last two seasons isn’t because of Manning. Instead, it’s because of the defense and who’s around Manning. Winning two Super Bowls with those numbers is proof that Manning doesn’t have to be an elite QB, he just needs the right team around him.
When the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2011 and 2007, Manning wasn’t elite, he just had the right team around him. Based on his numbers, Eli Manning has never been an elite QB, but the Giants have done well at putting the right team around him. I think the Giants believe they can build the right team around Eli Manning again, which is why they’re sticking with him.
In today’s NFL, I’m not sure if the Giants will be able to win the Super Bowl like they’ve done twice before just by putting the right team around Manning. Today’s NFL is much different than it was back in 2011 and 2007. I don’t think Eli Manning will win another Super Bowl with the Giants, but if the Giants want to give it a shot, all we can do is just sit back and watch.