CANTON, OH – In watching the Giants beat the Bears, despite blowing a 10-point lead with under two minutes left, I was made aware of some interesting stats. Eli Manning’s 2018 completion percentages and QB rating are career highs. Huh? Even the most ardent Eli supporter would have a tough time saying Eli is having a good year.
Most people think the reason for those inflated stats is a high percentage of dump offs. But Eli’s yards per attempt is above his career average. And the Giants are in the middle of the league in that category. One clear reason is the career high (with a quarter of the season to go) 41 sacks taken, tied for third worst in the league. But that can’t be the whole reason. His adjusted yards per attempt, which takes sacks into account, is also above his career average.
Anyway, Eli’s dichotomous season and puzzling stats got me thinking and I decided to take on one of the country’s most polarizing topics. Forget abortion and gun control.
Is Eli Manning a Hall of Famer?
I try to put my Giants’ homer hat aside when I think about this topic. I’ve heard the pro case and I’ve thought, “easy Hall of Famer.” I’ve heard the con case and thought “no way.” Like a cryptocurrency, the peaks of Elisha Nelson Manning IV’s career have been high and the valleys have been low. You can really make a solid case for both. Put on your scuba gear, we’re going for a deep dive. Well, grab a snorkel at least.
Put Him in the Pooper with Brother Cooper – The Con Case
Eli’s career record is just four games over .500. The win against Da Bears at least guarantees that he won’t have a losing record if he decides to hang ’em up after this season. But he’s likely to finish the season with a record just above .500. Contemporary Ben Roethlisberger has close to a .700 winning percentage. Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan, and Joe Flacco all have much better career records than Eli. Heck even the oft-criticized (by me) Mark Sanchez has a career record over .500.
We all know about the two electric post season runs. But outside of those two seasons, Eli has never won a playoff game. He’s 0 and 4.
His career was played in a passing era. Yet he’s never had a 5,000 yard season and only had three 30 TD seasons. His stats are largely a product of longevity and durability, not dominating seasons. He’s made 3 Pro Bowls, compared to 7 for Rivers and 6 for Big Ben .
There’s a lot of mediocrity in there.
Don’t Be Hatin’ on the Bro of Peyton – The Pro Case
Here is the list of SB QBs with two wins and two MVPs: Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, and Eli Manning. That’s the whole list.
Some say he got lucky in those playoff runs and was carried by strong defenses. In the first title run, he threw 6 TD passes with one interception. In the second, he threw nine TD passes with one interception. He got lucky a lot those years.
The were underdogs in both Super Bowls, by twelve and half points in the first one and by three in the second.
In nearly 15 straight seasons, he never missed one game due to injury. Durability counts.
Eli is seventh on the all time yardage list and eighth on the TDs list. Sure it’s a passing era, but two Top 10s can’t be ignored.
Think how much more obnoxious Tom Brady’s stats would be if not for Eli. Brady would be a 7X Super Bowl champion, a 6X SB MVP, and he’d have an undefeated season in his pocket. Man, thank you Eli.
Eli was dominant in both post-season runs. He needed late fourth quarter drives in both SBs and came through with heroic, memorable plays – the David Tyree helmet catch, the sideline bucket throw to Manningham, the TD pass to Plaxico.
Speaking of Plaxico, Eli might have won a third SB in 2008 had Plax not shot himself in the leg when they were 11-1.
On the biggest stage, Eli was a magic man.
Give it to me straight, Archie – The Verdict
Are you kidding, of course he should be in. Winning Super Bowls is what it’s all about. I’d take a guy who caught lightning in a bottle twice over a guy who was more dominant in the regular season but never got his team over the hump. I’m looking at you Rivers.
Get Eli in the Hall.
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