Moving on from aging franchise quarterbacks can be tough. Green Bay struggled with the decision to let Brett Favre walk in favor of Aaron Rodgers back in 2008. Denver had to let Brock Osweiler take over for Peyton Manning at times en route to the Super Bowl back in 2015. I anticipate that fairly soon, New England will be forced to finally make a change at the quarterback position when Tom Brady hangs it up.
Whether Giants fans like it or not, the time has come for their team to move on from Eli Manning. He’s provided them so much over his career – two thrilling Super Bowl victories, both against the Patriots – so of course it won’t be easy to let him go. But the reality is that he no longer gives them a chance to compete. The Giants are 1-4 this year despite playing in one of the weakest divisions in the league. Even with top-tier talent at the running back, wide receiver and tight end positions, the offense is anemic. Only a third of the way through the season, the playoffs seem out of reach: 2018 will be another wasted season, just like last year and so many others this decade. If the Giants are going to turn things around next year and make a push to become relevant down the road, they need to make a change.
I’ve watched Eli play a couple times this season, and it’s obvious that he lacks the athleticism or arm strength to be a competent quarterback in today’s league. He constantly checks the ball down to his running backs or tight ends, settling for paltry gains that put the offense in third-and-long situations. When he does try to throw the ball deep, he almost never puts his receivers in a position to make a play. And he displays almost no mobility, completely unable to avoid the pass rush and get outside of the pocket to extend plays. I’ve noticed that Eli almost never gets hit hard; whenever defenders close in, he simply falls to the ground, content to give up on the possession and punt the ball away.
Perhaps worst of all, keeping Eli around will only waste the immense talent that the Giants have at other skill positions on offense. Defenses don’t respect his ability to throw over top of them, so they crowd the box, leaving few holes for explosive rookie running back Saquon Barkley. Odell Beckham, certainly the team’s best player, has now made it clear that he thinks Eli’s lack of arm strength is hindering his ability to make big plays down the field. Eli isn’t just hurting the team today; his lack of skill is preventing key players from developing around him, and the Giants will be worse for it down the road.
Maybe then it’s time for the Giants organization to move on from the man who’s led the team for the better part of the last two decades. It won’t be easy; moving on from players who brought your city multiple world championships never is. Still, football is a business, and at the end of the day, loyalty to a player’s career only lasts for so long. Given how poor Eli has looked this year, I’d bet that we’ll see someone else under center for the Giants in September of next year.
Contact Andrew Ziperski at ajzip ‘at’ stanford.edu.