Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Eli Manning is once again the New York Giants starting quarterback. Today, the positives he brings to the table are detailed. 

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—When New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur announced Daniel Jones‘s moderate ankle sprain, and if they had a game tomorrow, the kid would be unable to play, it opened the door for Eli Manning to make his first start on Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles since Week 2.

Jones was once again unable to practice on Thursday which has all signs towards Manning making his 233rd regular-season start against a very fitting team.

There might be concerns about how effective Manning will be since he will see his first game action in nearly a full three months, but Shurmur expects Manning to play at a high level against the Eagles.

“I expect him to go out and have a winning performance; that’s what I expect,” Shurmur said on Wednesday.

Despite possessing 16 years of NFL experience, expect the future Hall of Famer to be rusty at the start of the game. You also have to be concerned about the rapport Manning will have with Golden Tate and Darius Slayton, who were both not in the lineup when Manning last played.

However, there are several positives for the Giants if Manning starts on Monday night.

Changes the narrative heading into the game

With the Manning likely to start on Monday, it puts the focus on his return, rather than focusing on the Giants’ eight-game losing streak or the fact that they haven’t won in Philly since 2013, or if Shurmur will make it to the end of the season.

Players won’t admit this publicly, but they get tired of answering the same questions over and over again about the organization’s woes. Answering questions this week about Manning, rather than the team’s demise, will, at the very least, help lessen the negative vibe in the locker room. It could translate to a better performance on the field.

Could provide a spark

When a team is riding an eight-game losing streak, sometimes a new voice can help spark and energize the entire feel of the operation. Sterling Shepard mentioned this week that he didn’t think he would play with Manning again. Despite his age, Manning is still a two-time Super Bowl champion and carries a certain, unmistakable cachet.

What the Giants lose in mobility at the quarterback position and RPO options they gain in experience, as Manning has seen every defense in the book.

In addition, Manning will likely play looser and take more chances downfield as opposed to the first two games of the season when the thought of getting benched for making a mistake may have been on the back of his mind.

Manning’s return could help galvanize the Giants. He’s anxious to compete and show that he can still play at a high level. 

Could help get Saquon going

For whatever reason, the moment Daniel Jones became the starter, Saquon Barkley’s production plummeted.

Over the 16 games Barkley played with Manning last season, he averaged 81.68 rushing yards per game. It marks a drastic difference compared to the first two games of this season with Eli when he averaged 113.5 yards on the ground. Over the seven games with Jones, he’s averaging just 45.28 yards a game.

Some of Barkley’s regression can be attributed to the high-ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 3, but some of it also has to do with the difference in play-calling when Manning is under center as opposed to Jones.

It will be interesting to see if Barkley can get back on track with Manning back as the starter.

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