The New York Giants have bounced back from two season opening losses and are now on top of the NFC East. The main reason for that turnaround has been the play of Eli Manning, in his contract year, playing the best he’s ever had.
Really? A starting quarterback since 2004, with two Super Bowl rings on his fingers, just now hitting his prime? That might be the case, because Manning is finally playing for an offensive coordinator (Ben McAdoo) that’s tailored the right kind of offense to make Manning shine and be consistent in.
Even last season, with the Giants failing once again to make the playoffs, it wasn’t about Manning playing poorly. He completed 63.1% of his passes (a career high) with a 92.1 passer rating while throwing 30 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, his best ever TD/INT ratio, and only the second time in his career he’s had twice as much touchdowns as interceptions. Less dangerous throws, more quick reads and shorter throws, meant a Manning that’s a lot more difficult to sack (lessons from the terrible 2013 season).
This season it’s going even better. Even with his best receivers off the field sometimes, Manning is making things work, like on the final drive in the win against the San Francisco 49ers. He’s completing 66.5% of his passes, posting a 100.2 passer rating (on pace for a career best) and has thrown 10 touchdown passes through five games while being intercepted just twice. These two interceptions have come in the last two games, but it’s still a vast improvement for him.
Manning being successful has been in the eyes of many an example of mediocrity rearing its head from time to time to swipe glory, but over time, his numbers suggest he’s far from elite, even if he has the titles. But Manning doesn’t seem to mind. He’s fixated on getting better, and landing a big contract, just like the one Ben Roethlisberger got if not more. If the Giants had any questions about Manning’s future and whether or not they should sign him, the first 5 weeks in the 2015 NFL season have been eye opening to the revelation of just how good he can be in the right system.