Eli Manning knows what it feels like to be the forgotten man.
That feeling must have finally gotten to him this year as the soft spoken quarterback who has been the New York Giants leader since 2004 made headlines earlier this year when he stated he was among the league’s “elite” signal-callers. An out of character statement for someone who, on the surface, has lesser numbers than Philip Rivers but a closer look tells another story.
If we start from the top of the list we will no doubt throw out the names Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. After that, most forget the Super Bowl winning quarterback out of the University of Mississippi stacks up pretty well against those first four if not better in then some of them. You just have to know what you’re talking about. On the heels of the Giants second playoff victory this year behind Manning’s 330 yards, 3 touchdowns and a passer rating of 114.5, not to mention this being the second time he has beaten a former Super Bowl MVP at Lambeau field, I found myself thinking about the accomplishments of the younger Manning and it turns out he has put together an elite career to this point.
Let’s start with the hard numbers.
· (69-50) regular season record
· 185 career touchdowns
· Career QB rating of 82.1
· Career completion percentage (%) of 58.4
But a closer look and you will see why he is among the games best at his position.
Starting with his record in the regular season, let’s look first at the division that he plays in. Overall since 2006 his divisional competition is (149-138), which is one of the better marks in football. Compare that to another player who is normally ranked higher than Manning, Philip Rivers, whose divisional opponents are (122-156) that is a huge disparity in competition, especially with its affect on regular season records where a difference of +54 is massive. Playing in a division like the NFC East where big money Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington reside is a huge parallel to Oakland, Kansas City and Denver all things being considered.
Next we examine, what I feel, is his most important advantage when it comes to being mentioned among the elite of the league and that is his playoff resume. One has to start with his Super Bowl season of 2007. He beat Jeff Garcia, Tony Romo, Brett Favre and Tom Brady on a run that most forget had as much to do with Eli as the defense. Going toe-to-toe with two legends and a division rival on the rise Manning put together a postseason that shouldn’t be overlooked. He threw for 854 yards, a 95.7 passer rating, 60.5% completion percentage and 6/1 touchdowns to interceptions.
Did I mention he did all of this on the road?
Not one game was played in the Meadowlands and he won the Super Bowl most valuable player by outplaying a team that was going for a (19-0) perfect season and seemed all but unbeatable with both a record setting quarterback and wide receiver.
But how clutch is he? His overall playoff numbers are:
· (6-3) record,
· 1,904 yards,
· 14/8 TD/INT’s,
· 60.9 completion percentage and
· 88.7 passer rating
Those are better than another quarterback usually named before Manning: Ben Roethlisberger. Now don’t get me wrong, it is very Justifiable that Roethlisberger is thrown in the mix as elite. For me is ahead of Aaron Rodgers because of track record. However, when compared to Eli in the playoffs, while he has more Super Bowl victories, the numbers tilt toward Manning when pro-rated for appearances and games; “Big” Ben has a stat line of 20/17 (TD/INT’s), 60.6% completion, 3150 yards and a rating of 83.7. While Ben has more rings, Eli is the better performer and is still marching on in 2012 with a legitimate shot for another.
That would make this a completely different conversation.
Athletes are defined by championships, and while Eli is currently tied with his brother, Peyton, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees with one ring, he will be on another plain if he navigates the Giants to another championship by beating the San Francisco 49ers and the eventual AFC champions. Particularly in New York, where winning championships is synonymous with legendary status (read: Berra, Jeter, Namath, Willis Reed, etc.) and One need only look at the Jets to realize how difficult it is to succeed at quarterback in New York. For a guy who was thrown under the bus for his decision to not play in San Diego, the vicious New York tabloids and his own teammate Tiki Barber, he sure knows how to respond the way any elite player would. A response so vivid in fact (winning the Super Bowl that year and establishing himself as the unquestioned leader of the offense) that Tiki backtracked on those comments and (finally) gave Eli the kudos he deserved. That is of course if anyone is still listening to Tiki Barber.
Eli Manning had a chip on his shoulder earlier this season that carried over into the season. Turns out he had a legitimate gripe.
Next stop on the road to validation: San Francisco.