New York Giants Eli Manning
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Eli Manning is the greatest quarterback in New York Giants history, but it’s time to stop giving him a pass for the last few seasons.

Jason Leach

One day, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP, and is in the top 10 all-time in just about every significant passing category.

Nobody can take away what he’s accomplished during his 15-year career as he is the greatest quarterback in the history of New York sports, and yes that includes Joe Namath.

With all that said, Manning cannot get a free pass for his play over the past few seasons. The offense, including their Wild Card Weekend loss to the Packers in January of 2017, has gone 37 consecutive games without scoring 30 points.

In today’s game, where rules favor quarterbacks and offenses, it seems unfathomable that a team with a future Hall of Fame quarterback could have such a dubious streak. Through four games of this season, the Giants offense continues to be one of the worst in the league as they’re averaging just 18.3 points per game (29th in the NFL). While the numbers show that Manning is completing a career-best 74.2 percent of his passes, it’s an example of deceiving statistics.

Many of Manning’s completions have been check downs to Saquon Barkley who has 27 of Manning’s 112 completions this season (24.11 percent) or short passes to Odell Beckham Jr. who is averaging a career low 10.7 yards per reception.

Through four games, the Giants do not have a passing play of 40 yards.

Following the Giants loss to the Saints, Beckham expressed his frustration with the offense.

In today’s NFL, there’s no way an offense can flourish if they don’t challenge defenses throwing the ball down the field.

With playmakers such as Beckham, Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram when he’s healthy, the Giants should possess one of the most dynamic offenses in the league. But they’re far from it.

Yes, the offensive line has been bad over the last several seasons and it’s still a major issue despite the additions of Nate Solder and Will Hernandez. But even when the line has given Manning time, he has seldom thrown the ball down the field and appears to be gun shy. In fact, it’s hard to remember the last time Manning stepped into a throw and was willing to take a hit so that he can complete a pass downfield.

During the Giants’ 37-game stretch of not scoring 30 points, there have been several excuses for their offensive woes. The excuses ranged from Ereck Flowers and the offensive line’s ineptitude, to the absence of a playmaker at tight end, and finally to the Giants missing that game-changing running back.

Flowers has been on the bench the past two games, the Giants took Engram in the first round of 2017 and he’s one of the more explosive tight ends in the league, and Barkley has had at least 100 all-purpose yards in each of the Giants four games this season.

So the usual suspects for diagnosing the Giants’ offense woes are not the problem anymore. The one constant in this streak — with the exception of the Giants 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders in Week 13 of last season — has been Manning.

It’s time for fans to stop making excuses for Manning, and it’s time for Manning to step up and dig the Giants out of their 1-3 hole.

While Beckham has been frustrated with the offense, he expressed his confidence that his quarterback can deal with the scrutiny and rebound and make plays.

“I feel like he’s fully capable of handling whatever comes his way. He’s been doing this for a long time, so I don’t think there’s anything guys could say that is going to bother him. We’re going to continue to come in here week in and week out and try and get wins, and not to be like executing and all that, but we’re going to try and come in here and do the same thing every week and win and be able to make the plays wherever we have them.”

Perhaps coming under fire is just what Manning needs to jumpstart him and the rest of the offense. Coming under scrutiny after referring himself as an elite quarterback prior to the 2011 season, seemed to fuel and motivate Manning the entire season.

Now the Giants are hoping this will spark Manning Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Panthers who are coming off a bye week and have one of the better defenses in the NFL. With the season essentially on the line on Sunday, it’s time for Manning to step up and show that he can still play at a high level.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.