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Eli Manning Must Have a Bounce Back Season

About nine months ago, the New York Football Giants did the unthinkable. Heading into Week 13 of the 2017 NFL Season, the Giants announced they they were going to bench starting quarterback and franchise icon Eli Manning, ending the two time Super Bowl MVP’s 210 consecutive games starting streak. Instead, former Jet quarterback Geno Smith would get the start as the Giants went on the road to play the Oakland Raiders. With Big Blue nearing the end of an abysmal season, holding a record of 2-9 at the time, everyone knew they were going to have a top three pick in the 2018 NFL draft, a draft that featured multiple top quarterback prospects. And with Eli Manning turning 37, it seemed all but certain that his career as a New York Giant was coming to an end.

To quote Marv from “Home Alone,” my how the tables have turned.

Ever since then, the Giants mindset concerning the future of Eli Manning has done a complete 180. All the moves they’ve made before the season screams that they’re all in on Eli for the foreseeable future. With the second overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Giants passed on drafting a quarterback.

Instead, they drafted superstar running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State. Furthermore, the Giants have just cut second-year quarterback Davis Webb, whom they drafted in the third round last year. Lastly, the Giants extended superstar wide reciever Odell Beckham Jr, making him the highest paid wide reciever in NFL history, Big Blue has gone from preparing for life after Eli to trying to win him his third Super Bowl ring in a matter of months.

Therefore, heading into the 2018 NFL season opener this Sunday, where the Giants will take on the Jacksonvile Jaguars at Metlife Stadium in their Week 1 matchup, Eli Manning is under the most pressure he’s ever been in heading into a season. Eli must have a bounce back season for two very simple reasons.

No More Excuses

Let’s be honest with ourselves, Giants nation. Manning has not played up to his standard the past two seasons. His passer rating has gone from a career high 93.6 in 2015 to 86.0 in 2016 and 80.4 in 2017. Last season, he failed to reach 4,000 passing yards and 25 passing touchdowns for the first time since 2013. Furthermore, he has been missing throws that he would’ve made in his prime. There is a very good chance that Eli’s best days are behind him.

However, in defense of Manning, the Giants have not done him many favors as of late. Their offensive line has been arguably the worst in the NFL, and when you fail a pocket passing quarterback with limited mobility like Manning time to throw the football, it rarely ends well. Furthermore, they’ve had little to no running game to speak off. In 2016, the Giants were third worst in the league in rushing yards per attempt with 3.5. In 2017, they rushed for 3.9 yards per attempt for 22nd in the league. Last but not least, the Giants offense as a whole collapsed when Ben McAdoo took over as head coach, failing to score 30 points in a game even once.

This past offseason, the Giants addressed all three of those issues that have been holding Manning back. They drafted a potential generational running back in Saquon Barkley, who’s presence alone should give the running game a major boost. They signed left tackle Nate Solder and drafted guard Will Hernandez in the second round, upgrading the offensive line to better protect Eli’s blind side. Lastly, the Giants hired Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to serve as their head coach, who’s known for getting the best out of his quarterbacks. With how much the Giants have revamped their offense. there’s no excuse for Manning to not be better in 2018.

Giants are Betting on Him

As previously mentioned, the Giants we’re stuck at a crossroad this past offseason. They held the second overall pick in the 2018 draft in arguably the best quarterback class of the decade. The odds of the Giants getting a better chance to find Manning’s successor anytime soon were slim to none. Instead, the Giants choose to go in a different direction and build around their 37 year old quarterback to try and win one more Super Bowl with him before he ultimately decides to call it a career.

The Giants are investing a lot in Manning. Outside of fourth round pick Kyle Lauletta, they have no succession plan in place.  If he fails to live up to expectations, New York’s entire plan will have failed and they may join the long list of teams searching for a quarterback. Not only that, if Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, or Josh Rosen become elite quarterbacks, Big Blue will never live it down.

With how much the Giants are investing in their quarterback, he has to bounce back in a big way in order to prove that they made the right decision.

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New York & New Jersey Sports Staff Writer, New Jersey Jackals Beat Writer
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