When you take a long, hard look at New York Giants‘ quarterback Eli Manning, you see an immobile, unathletic, mopey player. Does he perform like that on the field? Sometimes. But in 2018, things might take a drastic turn from those unfortunate descriptive words often aimed towards Manning.
Manning is the epitome of class, bleeding courage and resilience. There’s no other player that will have prepared harder during the week for the game ahead. That has always been a strength of the veteran quarterback and it will remain one as long as he’s in the NFL.
In 2017, Manning was left to fend for himself on game-day, as his protection on the offensive line resembled something similar to swiss cheese, and his receiving corps a band of misfit toys. It was impossible for him to succeed, and finding a way to pull off a single win was the equivalent to winning the Super Bowl.
Why we should be excited for the New York Giants in 2018:
As we journey towards training camp, we can see an improvement in regard to Manning’s confidence already. He has a solid left tackle to keep him safe and upright on game-day, and a bullish guard in Will Hernandez to have his back at all costs. But his prized possession is running back Saquon Barkley.
The Giants’ first-round pick will bring a set of tools to the field that surpasses most players – running, catching, blocking… He can do it all. His measurables baffled scouts and even convinced GM Dave Gettleman that he was the most physically gifted athlete in the past 30 years.
Eli will benefit from this young phenom, as he’s never had a true work-horse back like the one lining up beside him in practice.
We’ve already reviewed Manning’s ability to prepare, but his on-the-field abilities differ from most. He manages the game like a coach at the line of scrimmage; picking apart the defense and reading the coverage’s before the ball even hits his hands. He often works the play-action excessively, but due to Ben McAdoo and his broken system, Manning’s strengths were stifled.
In 2018, they will be reborn. Barkley will provide an outlet for him in the pass game, and help stuff linebackers at the line of scrimmage. Let me put it this way… When super-talent Odell Beckham Jr., starlet tight end Evan Engram, and shifty slot-receiver Sterling Shepard are covered, he has a premium running back to check the ball to. His options are plentiful, and there’s ‘no’ reason for him to struggle on offense this season. A lack of chemistry would be the sole purpose for any hiccups.
Last year, the Giants’ offense failed to score 30 points in a game for the second consecutive season. Manning finished the season averaging just 231.2 yards per game, which was his lowest since 2008. His QBR was 41.7 – second-worst of his career. His 6.1 yards per pass attempt was a career low. He didn’t lead a single fourth-quarter comeback that we have become so accustom to (thanks Aldrcik Rosas…).
Looking at his yards per attempt, it’s easy to say that the offensive line didn’t give him much time to work with, which forced the receivers to run shorter routes and for Manning to dump it off to the running back far too often. Barkley will provide him the necessary means to keep the offense unpredictable and exciting. Head coach Pat Shurmur will bring a scheme that focuses on the strengths of the players and not run a system that may not fit the skill-set of his guys.
Manning is finally in a position to succeed, and it only took the firing of the general manager and head coach. So far, Gettleman and Shurmur have done a super job rebuilding this team in just one offseason.