With one year left on Eli Manning’s contract, the New York Giants quarterback has one season to showcase his talents.
However, this will be the first year of the veteran’s career, since the Kurt Warner days, that his starting role is not solidified throughout the season. The lack of job security and his uncertain contract situation puts Manning’s back against the wall. He will have to have a career year if he wants any future with the Giants or in the NFL.
The positive for the former Ole’ Miss quarterback is that he will be entering 2019 coming off one of his best years, statistically speaking. Last season, Manning took care of the ball better than he did most of his career. He finished with a career-high 66% completion percentage. Manning also paired this with the lowest interception percentage of his career (1.9%).
A lot of these passes were check-downs to Saquon Barkley. However, this does show that Manning was more cautious with the ball. Being more careful with his throws also led Manning to the fourth highest passer rating—92.4—of his career.
The great thing for Manning is that the majority of his production came in the second half of the season. In his final eight games, Manning threw 13 out of his 21 touchdowns while finishing 4-4 down the stretch. This was a major improvement to the 1-7 start he and the Giants faced. This development could show that Manning has gotten on the same page with his head coach, Pat Shurmur, who is supposed to be a quarterback guru.
These career numbers from Eli Manning all came with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Manning was sacked a career-high 47 times in 2018. He also featured a career-high 7.5% sack percentage. Inconsistencies up front helped to hinder Manning’s production.
Entering 2019, it looks like the poor offensive line excuse for Eli will not be there. The starting quarterback will be getting his center, Jon Halapio, back. Halapio only played two games last season but he was evidently the best Giants offensive lineman during that period. The offensive line will also be adding Kevin Zeitler, a top-tier talent at the right guard position. Zeitler, acquired through a trade with the Browns, will be an instant upgrade for the Giants. Last year, the former Brown earned a Pro Football Focus (PFF) rating of 74.5, marking sixth highest amongst all guards.
Moreover, there are additional rumors that the Giants may pick up Mike Remmers at right tackle to solidify the offensive line. Remmers is a solid tackle who earned a 72.1 PFF grade as a right tackle under current Giants head coach Pat Shurmur in 2017.
With a refined offensive line Manning will now have the time in the pocket to make the right throws. That should help to improve Manning’s game and can help him see some of the best numbers of his career. The improvement in the offensive line will not only help Manning’s passing ability but also improve the Giants’ running game. Prior to Saquon Barkley’s arrival last year, the Giants have not had a solid run attack in a while.
This made the Giants one-dimensional offensively hampering Eli Manning’s production. Teams knew that the Giants were going to throw the ball most of the time. This put Manning at a significant disadvantage. Now it looks like the Giants will have one of the best run games in all of football. This dangerous rushing attack will in turn help Eli Manning’s passing attack.
Eli will also match the versatility in the offense with his new receiving core. While Manning will not have his former number one man, Odell Beckham Jr., he will be entering with a group of guys that are known to make plays after catching the ball. Eli will come into the 2019 season with a second year Barkley who is only looking to get better. Barkley had over 700 receiving yards last season and this number has the ability to go up with the improvement in Eli Manning’s game.
Furthermore, Manning will have Golden Tate who has thrived throughout his nine-year career by being productive with his yards after the catch. The ability to make plays after receiving the ball will help to counteract Manning’s aging body.
If all of this was not enough, Manning has the full support of the Giants staff. Dave Gettleman, Giants general manager, has professed countless times that he thinks that Eli Manning has the ability to play at a high level.
“This narrative Eli is overpaid and can’t play is a crock,” is what Gettleman had to say regarding Eli Manning to the press. Eli Manning’s improvement down the stretch of the 2018 season has led the Giants management to believe in Eli Manning so much so that there were rumors of a potential contract extension.
Nevertheless, the Giants did chose to select quarterback Daniel Jones in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Duke product is supposed to be the heir to Eli Manning.
Manning is not getting any younger so a move to Jones could come sooner than later. The rookie will be pushing Manning for the starting job throughout the season. It will be the veteran’s job to hold him back. This adversity is nothing new for Eli Manning.
He has seen the best parts of his career with his back against the wall (27 fourth-quarter comebacks). Time will tell if he can do it again.