The New York Giants desperately need the old Eli Manning to take over the imposter who wears #10 for the Giants. The quarterback who would frustrate fans by forcing balls down the field, but also energize his team by taking risks to generate big plays down the field. They need the quarterback who took risks, hung in the pocket and let his receivers make plays down the field. The organization needs that guy back for them to salvage this season.
Eli has become too conservative. He reads the field looking for the safe throw first before looking at his deep read. The defense is going to be poor all year, he has to take shots for the Giants to compete in 2019. Last season, Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers all had a higher INT % than Eli Manning.
There has been a lot of scrutiny on the strength of Eli’s arm, but what good is it to have a healthy arm if you aren’t going to use it? On Sunday against the Cowboys, Eli attempted a deep pass (20+ yards down the field) on only 6.8% of his dropbacks, according to Profootballfocus metrics.
After rewatching every non-screen pass play called through the first three quarters, it became evident Eli left a lot of opportunities out there for the Giants. Let’s dive into the film.
Q2 8:38 – 3rd and 12
The Giants struggled to convert third downs all game, converting only two out of eleven third-down opportunities. Midway through the second quarter, the Giants faced a third and 12 from their own 33. Dallas left the deep middle of the field exposed, if Eli holds the ball a half-second longer, he has the time to hit Russell Sheppard on a deep crossing route. Instead, he opts to check down to Ellison and the Giants punt.
Q2 1:13 – 1st and 10
The two-minute drill was unwatchable. The Giants gained 31 yards in the 1:04 they had the ball. The Cowboys played cover 3 on this play, which should have been advantageous to the Giants given they ran a flat curl combination to Eli’s left. The cornerback in the slot to Eli’s left should be Eli’s first read to dictate where he wants to go with the ball. As soon as the slot corner sprints to the flat, Eli knows he’ll have the curl route, which he did. Instead, the ball comes out quickly over the middle for a short gain.
Q2 0:54 – 2nd and 4
The Giants dial up the perfect play design against the Cowboys covers 2 defense. To Eli’s right, Engram sprints to the flat to occupy the corner, giving Sheppard room to make a play over top between the corner and the safety. This should have been Eli’s first read, but once again he gets rid of the ball too quickly and doesn’t take advantage of what the coverage is giving him.
Q2 0:30 – 1st and 10
This was one of Eli’s most egregious misses. He completes an accurate ball to Latimer on the sideline but misses a great opportunity to hit Engram up the seam matched against a linebacker. It’s possible he was spooked by the safety in the middle of the field, but given how much time was left in the half and where the Giants were on the field, this was a risk worth taking.
Q3 11:12 – 2nd and 9
On this play-action rollout to Eli’s right, it takes him too long to come off his first few reads along the sideline. If he had looked up, he would have seen a wide-open Rhett Ellison in the back of the end zone. These kind of misses are inexcusable.
Q3 8:39 – 2nd and 3
First, let’s give the Giants credit for actually sending Barkley on a wheel route and trying to free him up with a pick play. Eli has a fairly clean pocket to throw from, but seems to panic and get rid of the ball too early before Barkley was expecting it. If he tries to hit Barkley in stride further down the sideline, this is likely a touchdown.
The Giants desperately need Eli to elevate the offense. 2011 Eli wouldn’t have won Sunday against the Cowboys, but 2011 Eli can carry this team to a wild card birth. The offensive line looks strong, he finally has as running game and a few weapons among his receivers and tight ends. If Eli forces a pick downfield next Sunday you will hear a lot of groans from the fans in the stands, but that could also be a signal that Eli is back and ready to elevate this offense one last time.