The truth is simple – the New York Giants have done quarterback Eli Manning a disservice over the years by letting the offensive line falter. Drafting Ereck Flowers and featuring Bobby Hart at right tackle shouldn’t cloud our judgment when it comes to Manning’s production – Jerry Reese was at the heart of the issue.
Blaming Manning is simple – he’s the quarterback, the most volatile and imputed position on the offense. It’s easy to dissect his numbers and create a statistics-based reason as to why the Giants’ offense has lacked production in recent years. But, we must look at these tools he had at his disposal, or rather the lack of.
New York Giants: Eli Manning can still be effective
Every simple fan can tell you Manning needs time to operate at a high level, and a leaky offensive line has taken that reality away from him. General manager Dave Gettleman has made that a priority since taking over – drafting Will Hernandez, signing Nate Solder, and trading for Kevin Zeitler.
But, if the logical breakdown of this truth isn’t convincing, take it from star running back Saquon Barkley himself:
“Yeah, it bothers me, I’m not gonna lie, because it’s not his fault,” says Barkley, who the Giants drafted with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. “He’s not the reason why we went 5-11. We lost seven or eight games this year by seven points or less as a team. We love to put the blame on one person. But in football it takes 11 men. I’m fine with having 1,200 yards next year, 1,300 yards next year, but with a 12-4 record.”
The voice of a true leader, denouncing his own abilities for the greater good of the team. Manning utilized Barkley in more ways than his intangibles – racking up 721 receiving yards and 4 scores through the air (one of which was from an OBJ pass).
There’s no question that the rookie running back helped Manning break the spell of Odell Beckham Jr.’s reliance. Offering another superstar weapon provides him with the opportunity to spread the ball around and keep the opposing defense on their toes.
Better yet, having a star running back is far more influential than a receiver, simply because they are able to take the pressure off of manning with the play action, run the ball at a high level, and even act as a pass catcher. Barkley is a multi-faceted player that will bring out the best in the aging quarterback, the hopes are that he still has some gas left in the tank.
There’s hope for the veteran QB:
Manning saw his completion percentage reach a career high in 2018 – 66%. This could be attributed to garbage time production or an increase in dump offs. However, upgrading the offensive line should contribute to a more efficient performance from Manning.