Allow me to apologize in advance to the Manning family for everything I am about to say. But in my defense, I lost my fantasy football game because of Eli Manning, and I’m the kind of manager who takes decisive action and doesn’t mince words. This is business, and business has no place for hurt feelings (as I’m sure everyone in the NFL will agree).
The repercussions to Eli are far-reaching, starting with his instant removal from my team. From there, the domino effect could seep into every aspect of his life. But I can’t think about that. I have a job to do. Matt Hasselbeck, Kyle Orton or maybe even Jason Campbell will now be backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick. Congratulations, boys. Try-outs are at seven. Bring your swords. There can be only one.
I’m sure when Eli hears the news he’ll be crushed, but I’m now taking off the Manning-colored glasses and accepting Eli for what he is. The good news is that the Hasselbeck, Campbell and Orton families will be celebrating today. They’re nice people. That should make you happy.
Controlling the helm of my football team doesn’t pay as much, but the glory is far greater. It’s also not as forgiving, because when you seemingly can’t hit any receiver in almost any situation, stand there as the pocket crumbles while repeating your progressions seven times until a slow wave descends on you like the blob, make every receiver perform some kind of circus catch in order for you to make forward progress, and lastly, score 10 points fewer than Ryan Fitzpatrick, then you have just lost your job, buddy.
Here’s what else I don’t understand. Eli is still talked about as if he just entered the league. The battle on Monday night was described as “two young quarterbacks, both expected to get better.” That’s certainly how I saw it. One hasn’t played an entire season, the other has been in the league since 2004 and has a Super Bowl under his belt (for which he has a circus catch to thank).
On Monday Night, the first touchdown pass to Nicks from the 1 yard line was thrown directly at the defender. Nicks had to adjust, contort his body, reach back awkwardly and snag a ball that was described by Ron Jaworski as “a great pass.” What? I guess. If the objective was to make the defender pee blood for a week.
The second to Hixon was a jump ball (like many of Eli’s greatest passes), which was bobbled several times in the air and cradled by one hand just before hitting the ground. Eli did throw one perfect pass to a wide open Mario Manningham streaking down the sidelines, but Manningham bobbled it anyway and made it look super fancy before making the catch and injuring himself. I think the Giants wide receivers are so used to doing acrobatics that a Pavlovian response is triggered when they see a ball coming their way. “Here it comes! Leap! Twist! Swing wildly at double coverage! Close Eyes! Pray!”
Last year, Eli had over 4,000 yards, 31 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. Why? Because he throws the ball with reckless abandon and his receivers make monstrous plays. If I had a nickel for every time I saw a NY Giants receiver do something that defied gravity, I would have $4.30. While that doesn’t sound like a lot of money, that’s 86 times. (I probably should have negotiated for more. Dammit.)
And I find it funny that Eli is still given rookie status and slack despite his veteran experience. I’ll have to look this up, but I’m not going to, isn’t he high on the list of most consecutive starts? Ughhh… I’ll look it up. I can’t wait for you people. I have to know. Be right back. Go grab a smoke or something.
Okay, I’m back. #6 All-time in consecutive starts! Come on! Why are we still expecting Eli to get better? Because his older brother is awesome? I had an awesome friend who could build anything. His dad was a great architect. His younger brother liked to lick batteries and burn off his arm hair. Do you see what I’m trying to say here?
I’m not saying that Eli is a battery licker, but I am saying that he is a veteran quarterback and at this stage of his career can not be lumped in with the new batch of quarterbacks like Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and others who came out of the gate kicking ass, taking names and are just getting started. Eli was drafted in the same year as Roethlisberger and Rivers, two elite quarterbacks now considered cagey veterans in this league. No one is saying of these two men, “They are going to be good one day when they learn more stuff.”
I’m just wondering if it’s time to become a realist about our expectations regarding Eli. He has started 111 consecutive games, been in multiple playoff situations (including the biggest stage on the planet), and still makes poor decision after poor decision. All while the commentators make excuse after excuse for his poor play, either citing his youth or inexperience. Why? I have an idea.
I propose we change his last name to Shuman. Eli Shuman. Not that he isn’t deserving of the Manning name, just that we can’t see past it to objectively rate his performance. We’re all looking at Eli through Manning-colored glasses, and I’m sure he’d prefer that not be the case. I’m sure he’d rather not be constantly compared to his older brother, nor have to live up to those expectations.
Many of us get that Eli will never be Peyton (including Eli), but we seem to forget how long it is that Eli has actually played and can’t help but compare it to how long his brother has played. Maybe that’s why we still see him as relatively new quarterback in this league, but in his eighth season, Peyton Manning was arguably the best quarterback then and regarded as maybe the best ever. It’s time to get realistic about Eli and begin to taper our own expectations.