It's getting to the point where we have to wonder if New York Giants QB Eli Manning is the Bob Griese or, more aptly, Jim Plunkett of his generation.
With five more picks Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks in a 23-0 blanking, Manning leads the NFL with 25 interceptions — more prior to Sunday's Jets game, than the much maligned Geno Smith, who has 20 — with several of them of the horrific variety.
The Giants have won two Super Bowls with Manning's gutsy play a big reason why. But anyone arguing that Super Bowl victories define quarterback greatness clearly are not considering Eli's valleys. Because they are deep and wide.
This is the third time he has thrown 20 or more picks in a season, and, yes, in one of those seasons the Giants won it all. But we're talking about a $20 million quarterback who is nearing in on 30 picks. (For you stats geeks, George Blanda once threw 42 in a season, and the most since the 2000 season were Brett Favre's 29 in 2005.)
There has been talk of Manning being willing to restructure his contract in the offseason, but the word is that he does not want to take less money. Can't blame him — it's not as if the Giants will cut him.
And it's not as if Manning doesn't have weapons. Sunday's opponent, Russell Wilson, is having a fantastic season, and his top receivers currently are Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller and ... Frank Kearse?
Eli, meanwhile, has a strong arsenal of weapons: Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle and Brandon Myers. That's a good enough group to succeed with.
Manning turns 33 immediately after the season — hardly old, by recent standards. Heck, older brother Peyton Manning is minting his career as perhaps the finest quarterback of all time with an MVP-caliber season at age 37.
But could Eli have lost his fastball? Or are we just blaming a poor offensive line and everything else around him crumbling?
That's possible. Eli has rallied from poor seasons before. The Giants, with this regime, are rarely down for too long — two straight "off" season is about all they are bad for.
But with the way Manning has crashed this season, it's worth asking if we have seen his best days already.
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