The Future of Eli Manning a True Catch 22
There were moments this past season that Eli Manning looked as good in the pocket as he’s looked in years. Leading the New York Giants to impressive wins versus the Houston Texans early in the season and connecting on 17 of 18 passes against Tampa Bay game were high points for the aging quarterback.
Although the season included a few brief highlights, overall it was a disappointing one, dominated by interceptions, misconnections and trying to survive in a pass pocket that was under constant siege. It was a season that started with managements misperception of what an NFL offensive line should be and as the Giants scrambled to field a more reputable starting five the season began to slip away.
Based on the projected results of the 2018 season the Giants will be in position to select a quality draft pick to address some of their shortcomings. Their primary focus should be offensive line and filling gaps on the porous defense.
This is the time in a franchise’s history where strong management leads and puts pressure on the scouting team to identify the players that fit the model. Imagine the Giant line with a Quinten Nelson type. Note the turnaround in Indy as the team made a few critical draft choices, including former ND offensive guard, Nelson, a nearby Red Bank native.
There’s tremendous pressure on the Giants exec’s to not waste this window of rare specialized talent that they are currently in as the team fields a top receiver and a number two with huge potential, one of the leagues most explosive and versatile running backs and a tight end that everyone feels has pro bowl talent. It’s hard to think of a Giant team that had more weapons on offense. Even the most recent Giant’s Super Bowl teams didn’t have this type of firepower.
As the television show To Tell the Truth relied upon the “real” guest to stand up at the end of the segment, many Giant fans wonder who the real Eli Manning is. Could he be the invigorated leader that led the team to a few impressive wins or is he the starry-eyed vet that seems overwhelmed and lost in the pocket on more than one occasion. Is he the Eli that dazzled the Texans and Buccaneers or the aging QB that threw too many questionable interceptions?
The problem for the Giants is they have too much to risk if indeed Eli is past his days of top tier productivity. But that’s OK. Eli mas accomplished plenty. Eli is respected by his teammates, the media and Giant fans. The only Eli haters are those that might have purchased one of those questionable “game used helmets” but other than that hiccup, Eli’s career has been unscathed. These are the perfect circumstances to send the cow to pasture and pass the baton, but are the Giants actually a year too late?
Eli’s not the best option to be the Giants starting quarterback in 2019, for what would change? He’ll only be a year older, a year slower and be even more vulnerable in a collapsing pocket. The ideal time table would have had Eli mentoring his replacement during the past season and handing the starting role over in 2019. The only role Manning should have in 2019 is too come in during a game that got out of hand to see if his veteran savvy can get the team back on track. In 2019 the Giants need Eli the mentor not Eli the 20th ranked quarterback in the league.
Since the Giants elected to pass on this year’s crop of college QB’s they will be forced to compromise (thus the Catch 22) and sign a free agent or make a trade over the summer. Don’t be surprised if Teddy Bridgewater or Nick Foles end up donning the Giant red and blue. Yet this somewhat force-fed strategy may have some diehard Giant fans feeling rather blue too. Especially as the watch the Big-5 QB’s continue to grow.
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