When the New York Giants started off the season at 1-7, fans were quick to point fingers. Many placed blame on the coaching staff, the offensive line, and the quarterback, Eli Manning. Going into the week 9 bye, Manning had a total of eight passing touchdowns and six interceptions (an average of one touchdown per game and .75 interceptions per game). These statistics were less than impressive and were the reason many fans blamed Eli Manning for the horrible start to the season.
The New York Giants came out of the BYE strong:
Coming out of the bye week the Giants had a winnable matchup with the 49ers in San Francisco. But in order to win, the Giants needed a big game out of Eli Manning. Manning delivered with a three touchdown performance that included a game winning drive in the final minutes of the game. Since the bye week, the Giants have won four of their five games. Much of this turnaround can be attributed to the improved play of Manning.
Since the bye week, Manning has thrown a total of 10 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions (an average of 2 touchdowns per game and 0.4 interceptions per game). That is a huge improvement and has been a key component to the Giants recent success.
A New Game Plan:
The Giants have altered their game plan drastically since week one. They started the season off as a balanced team that refused to throw the ball downfield. The game plan consisted of constant check downs to Saquon Barkley. That game plan has changed in recent weeks as the Giants have become a run-first team. Barkley is now the center piece of the offense, and that has helped Eli Manning tremendously. The run game has opened up the passing game and given the offense the ability to throw it past the sticks more often.
Eli Manning’s New Role:
Eli Manning has a new role in the Giants offense. He’s no longer a playmaker; he is a game manager. At this point in his career, this is how it needs to be. He isn’t going to gain a ton of yardage and have 45 drop backs per game anymore, but that’s a good thing. Barkley can carry the load while Manning manages it and holds it all together. This is a formula that has lead to success in the latter part of this season. The Giants still have a chance at making the playoffs. It is a slim—very slim— chance, but it is a chance nonetheless. And they would not have this chance if not for the improved play of Manning.
If Eli can continue to play at a high level for the rest of the season, he could earn himself another season in Big Blue. If the Giants feel confident in Manning’s ability to play like this consistently, they could draft a quarterback (maybe Dwayne Haskins Jr.) and groom him with Manning next season. Of course, Barkley is the key to all of this. Him being such a dominant force has paved the way for a solid second half to the season for Eli. This is a formula that could certainly be continued next season, and expanded upon the season after with a new quarterback on a rookie deal.