Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Dear Beast: What's up with Eli?
By Dan Graziano
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
I'm going to start dipping into the Beast mailbag on a more frequent basis. Each afternoon, I'll choose a question of the day to answer. Who will be our first "winner"? Keep reading to find out:
Alex from Arlington, Va., wants to know what's so special about Eli Manning: Matt, could you answer for me why people are so high on Eli Manning? Apart from catching fire in the 2007 playoffs and (admittedly) playing relatively well in 2008, he's been a mediocre QB in the NFL despite a consistent wealth of offensive talent nearly every single year. I wouldn't call him any more accomplished than, say, Drew Bledsoe, Kerry Collins, Trent Dilfer or any number of QBs who rode outstanding teams to playoff success despite being little more than caretakers. The problem I've always had with Manning is that even as a caretaker, he's inaccurate, erratic, and prone to lose his team more games than he's capable of winning by himself. You admit that his stock is falling right now, but for those of us who saw his Super Bowl "MVP" as nothing more than a fluke, his recent play is hardly that surprising. Love the blog, otherwise!
Mosley: Alex, thanks for making us a (vital) part of your day. At his peak, Bledsoe was not a "caretaker" quarterback. You think of him like that because he played for Bill Parcells, but the mighty Tuna let Bledsoe sling it around quite a few Sundays. And I don't think Collins was strictly a game manager either. Yes, I agree that Eli Manning doesn't put up huge numbers, but he seems to be at his best during huge moments. He put together late drives against the Cowboys in the divisional playoff game in '07 and then he made clutch plays against the Packers and Patriots. I don't see how critics can sort of brush that away with the whole "fluke" argument. Manning had an excellent '08 season, but like the rest of his team, he faltered against the Eagles. He gets the benefit of the doubt because of his '07 run.
Right now, he's in a bad place. I don't know how bad his foot injury is right now because he's refusing to use it as an excuse. The scary thing is that he's making really poor decisions with the football. I think he has enough confidence to fight through this slump, but he needs to make it happen in a hurry. In the past, the defense could cover for Manning if he had a rough day. That's not happening at this point. The Giants need Manning to be great -- and he's not even good right now. But let's give it a month before we write him off as a "mediocre" quarterback. I, for one, don't think that '07 run was a fluke. And I think Manning will get it going soon.
Keep your questions coming. We just surpassed the 7,000-question mark in the mailbag. I'm hoping to answer at least 3,400 this week. All my best.