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Is Eli Manning an elite NFL QB? Jobu weighs in.

I know this post is a little late, but this is something that has been simmering inside me since Sunday afternoon, and I started my own blog so that I could write about whatever I want, so I’ve decided to touch upon the whole “is Eli Manning an elite quarterback or not” debate. Some people (people named Eli Manning) have gone on record to say that Eli Manning is among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. He certainly gets paid like an elite QB. Others, however, think he’s just plain terrible and has skirted by on a lot of luck. So which one is it?

The Argument Against Elite Status:

Ask anybody who has only ever seen three Giants games since 2004 and they’ll tell you flat out that Eli Manning is the luckiest quarterback in the NFL (yes, that’s a shot at Patriots fans). He’s terrible, he can’t throw, he has no accuracy and he’s afraid of being in the pocket . You could probably also have gotten that opinion from Giants fan before the few weeks leading up to the Giants Super Bowl XLII victory and gotten the same answer. I remember my friends and I were talking about Eli Manning at one of our “Down the Hatch Sundays (all you can drink beers and wings for $21)” during week sixteen of that incredible season. During the first quarter, we discussed exactly those points (I called him skittish in the pocket, a nervous Nelly). We agreed that Eli Manning was not the quarterback that was going to lead our Giants to the promised land. The G-Men needed to finish out the year and start looking into drafting someone else to take the helm. There were no words to describe how terrible Eli was in that first quarter. He literally made us lose all hope in the Giants (Giants clicked in the 2nd half and won 38-21).

Other Eli haters (like Joe Buck) will point to his career statistics and say that they’re really not that impressive. His career QB rating is a ho hum 81.6, and he has twice led the league in interceptions (including last year with 25). They’ll point out that the Giants have mostly been carried by their running game during Eli’s time, and that having an elite defense doesn’t hurt either. Simply put, he wins because all he has to do is not mess up.

What Does Jobu Think?

Like in Super Bowl XLII (left), an amazing late catch, helped Eli beat the Patriots again.

I’ll tell you what I think. Yes, I was once an Eli Manning hater. Yes, I once branded him as a soon-to-be-bust. Yes, I wanted the Giants to get rid of him. But let’s first ask this: what makes an “elite” quarterback? We start with statistics. Yes, Eli Manning throws a lot of interceptions. Guess what though, he also throws a lot of touch downs. He has 171 career TD passes, and is on pace to have his second straight 30 TD season this year. He’s also on pace for almost 4,700 yards this season, which would be a career high and his third straight year topping 4,000. His Qb rating this year is 98.8, which is good enough for 5th in the NFL. He has also only thrown 6 INTs thus far in 2011. Those are pretty elite level statistics no?

What else do elite QBs do? They find a way to win. Remember when the Patriots used to win their Super Bowls? Tom Brady was nowhere near the QB he is today. Brady didn’t throw for 30 TDs or even 3,800 yards until 2005 (coincidentally, when the Patriots stopped winning Super Bowls). The reason everyone jumped up Brady’s ass back then was because he was money in the clutch, and he would always find a way to win. The 4th quarter game winning drive was his thing that he did. He even did it in Super Bowl XLII. He just happened to leave a little too much time on the clock for Eli, and the Giants won. Eli found a way to win that game, just like he found a way to win last Sunday against Brady again (again after Brady’s own late 4th quarter TD drive).

My final thought is this. Eli Manning is probably not an elite quarterback. However, they asked him if he thought he was. What’s he supposed to say, no? At the end of the day, I think he’s a very good QB. He’s managed to put up with the pressure of playing in New York, he’s been overall very successful, and he constantly puts himself in a position to do something special every once in a while. Despite often looking skittish in the pocket, he’s never that way in the fourth quarter. When you have a lot of talent, you play on a great team and you keep your cool in during crunch time, you’re going to do some special things. You’re also going to get lucky sometimes. Eli got lucky when David Tyree made his incredible helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII. On Sunday, Jake Ballard made a great catch over the middle, and the Patriots committed a key pass interference penalty that put the Giants on the one yard line. But guess what again? All the good ones get lucky (Remember Brady and the Tuck Rule??), and every championship team needs a little bit of luck here and there to win.

At the end of the day I think the Giants can win any game that Eli plays in, including the playoffs. He might not be in the top tier of the league’s QBs, but you don’t need to be in order to be a winner. You know who else wasn’t an elite quarterback until it mattered? Terry Bradshaw (look at the stats!). And he won four Super Bowls. Bradshaw did exactly what Eli does. He played well enough to be in range of the miracle play for the win (immaculate reception, anyone?). I’ll take Eli and the rest of the giants on any given Sunday if it gets me four championships. So Eli might not be the best, but as a tearful Terrell Owens said when people insulted his boyfriend Tony Romo, “That’s my quarterback (boo hoo hoo hoo).”

Just for fun… Sorry Patriots fans.

Manning image courtesy of:
Tyree/Ballard image courtesy of: US PRESSWIRE & Andy Mills/Star Ledger

Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.