All of the moves the New York Giants have made this offseason prove that they’re fully committed to—and believe in—quarterback Eli Manning.
Following a season in which the team went 3-13 and Manning saw his consecutive game streak unceremoniously ended, many felt the Giants would move on from their 37-year-old quarterback.
Early in the offseason, some thought that the Giants should approach Manning and ask him to take a pay cut. Others believed that the Giants should take a quarterback with the second pick in the draft.
Even Manning himself had doubts about where he stood with the Giants, as he explained to WFAN’s Mike Francesa on his return to the airwaves Tuesday, per John Healy of the New York Daily News.
“For the first time ever, I didn’t know what the future held. I tried not to overthink it and draw conclusions [from] information I didn’t know. Just had to say, ‘Hey, I have to be positive through the season, offseason, and just work out and be ready for whatever is thrown at me.'”
Rather than trying to move on from Manning, Gettleman and Shurmur indicated that they are fully committed to having Manning as their quarterback and believe he has a lot left in his tank.
At a recent press conference, Shurmur spoke about what it’s like to work with Manning.
“It’s a real joy. I’ve said all along that he’s the fittest 37-year-old that I’ve ever seen. I see a guy that genuinely cares. I see a guy in the latter stages of his career that wants to learn a new offense just like he’s a rookie. He’s got that enthusiasm and I’m looking forward to seeing him lead our team.”
The Giants took several steps to ensure that Manning would be able to lead the team in 2018 and beyond.
The first step was bolstering the offensive line, which has been the team’s Achilles heel for the past several seasons. It’s the reason the Giants have failed to score 30 points in a game—and why Manning’s QBR has been below 50—over the last two seasons.
So Gettleman went out and signed the best free agent left tackle in Nate Solder and added guard Patrick Omameh. Manning would never admit this publicly, but he lost confidence in Ereck Flowers protecting his blind side.
Solder spent the first seven seasons of his career protecting Tom Brady’s blind side and was a pivotal reason the Patriots appeared in four Super Bowls during his time in New England and won two of them.
That’s why Gettleman made Solder the highest-paid tackle in NFL history—he feels Solder can give Manning confidence that he’ll have time to find receivers downfield.
The 6-foot-4, 327-pound Omameh, who spent the last two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, provides the offensive line with a physical presence up front and will help make up for the losses of Justin Pugh and D.J. Fluker, who left via free agency.
Then in the draft, the Giants took guard Will Hernandez in the second round to solidify things. The Giants were one of many teams that thought Hernandez would go in the first round, so to get him in the second round is an absolute steal.
With the additions of Solder, Omameh, and Hernandez, Manning now has the best line that he’s had in years.
But the best addition Gettleman made to help Manning have a productive season was running back Saquon Barkley, who he selected with the second pick in the draft.
Barkley was widely considered the best player in this year’s draft and will give Manning an every down back that the Giants haven’t had since Tiki Barber. The addition of Barkley will help open up the offense for the Giants as now they can do more play action and screen passes and make the offense less predictable.
In provide Manning with an improved offensive line and perhaps the best set of skill position players in the league, Gettleman has done his part, now it’s up to Manning to deliver.
The Giants defense is expected to go through some growing pains with changes in personnel and the fact that they’re converting from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4. So the onus will be on the offense and their future Hall of Fame quarterback to carry the team, at least at the beginning of the season.
Based on the additions the Giants have made and the vote of confidence he’s received from his head coach and general manager, there’s no reason why Manning should not have one of his finest seasons. In fact, you can say that the Giants are counting on it.