During the second half of last night's disgraceful Giant performance Joe Theisman was asked if he thought Eli Manning's problems were serious or minor. Minor, Ol' Joe argued, and because he works so hard and studies so much film and, basically, because his last name is Manning. But we're nearing the end of Year Three for Eli and the two quarterbacks taken after him in the 2004 Draft (Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers) are far better at this point and time. So are Manning's problems really minor or is the truth that he's a second tier quarterback.
This may not be the most opportune time to discuss Manning's issues. The Giants are shorthanded on the line and at the wideout which would make things difficult on even the best QB but his problems were the same when all hands were on deck. He doesn't stand tall in the pocket, set his feet and let fly - watch Deon Grant's pick on a pass intended for Plaxico Burress and you'll see Manning throw on the move off his back foot. Passes thrown like that simply have nothing on them and a very low chance of success. Last season it was the way that Manning seemed to fall backward with every throw but really the problem is the same in each case. Eli doesn't play like a confident quarterback and it certainly seems like he's regressing because of the problems rather than making adjustments to solve them. After last night's 23-10 loss in Jacksonville Tom Coughlin agreed with my assessment,
"There's no simple answer, but it's not a complex answer, either," Coughlin, still red-faced but calmed a bit, said. "Go back to work, build yourself back up from a confidence standpoint, get that bounce back, that excitement back. We need that."
I think it's more likely at this point that Manning is just an OK quarterback than he is Peyton Manning waiting to blossom. And I think that people would be more aggressive about making that statement if his name was Eli Jackson.
(AP Photo/Phil Coale)