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Scouts Inc.: Examining Manning's INTs

12/29/2010

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown way too many interceptions this season (24). Why is that? Some of it is Manning’s fault (in my opinion) and some of it is not. This past weekend against Green Bay (four interceptions) was a rather dreadful performance from this perspective. Let’s look at it a little deeper.

I very much believe that Manning is an upper-tier quarterback. He isn’t elite, but I contend that about 25 teams out there (you know who you are) would trade their respective quarterback for Manning. So, more so than not, I am a Manning supporter. Along those lines, let’s first discuss what has mostly not been his fault with the interception issue. Manning has had a ton of tipped balls land in the hands of the Giants’ opponents. Some have been deflections at the line of scrimmage and some have bounced off his intended receiver. These things happen to all quarterbacks and you can argue that he should do a better job finding suitable throwing lanes, but for the most part, this is just terrible luck that is not the quarterback’s fault.

The other factor here on Manning’s behalf is his young and ever-changing stable of wide receivers. The Giants have an excellent corps of wideouts in Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham. But this threesome is also very young and is not always precise with its routes and route adjustments. I would say Manningham is the worst culprit here and Smith is the most reliable. But Smith has been out of the lineup a fair amount this season -- and he is Manning’s safety blanket. Because of injuries, New York was forced to bring in wide receivers off the street who were unfamiliar with this passing game. In turn, miscommunications have been a regular occurrence. And again, I tend to blame this stable of wideouts much more so than the veteran Manning in this particular situation.

Now, it is time to place some blame on Manning. He has forced a lot of passes into spots that he simply should not have attempted. His decision-making has been worse of late than in recent memory. He has not reacted to pressure especially well. Manning has simply tried to do too much. That seems simplistic, but I really don’t have a better way to state it.

The interceptions need to stop for New York to have any chance and Manning has to correct these visible flaws. In eight of the Manning’s 15 games this season, he has thrown multiple interceptions. The 24 total interceptions coupled with fumbling problems in the running game and special-teams inconsistencies have made the Giants far too giving to their opponents. But I still think Manning is a very good quarterback and will prove to be more of the solution than the problem.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.