This started in the 2007 in what seems to be (and will hopefully be) the legacy of Eli Manning and his road to the Hall of Fame.
Is Eli better than Peyton? That is debatable, on so many different levels. Eli has just recently begun to come through. Recently become the quarterback we wished he would be. Recently led us to his second SuperBowl ring.
This all began back in the 2004 draft, when the Giants organization traded their pick (4th I believe) for the #1 pick in the draft, and a chance to draft the brother of the sensational Peyton Manning. He had doubters. He had haters. But the organization believed. They saw something different than everyone else. They saw potential. They saw greatness. Ex-GM Accorsi saw "quality that you can't define." He gave Eli "I honestly give this guy a chance to be better than his brother."
Before you go on and comment that I am saying he's better than his brother, I'm not. I'm merely saying he believed, and we believe (at least now we do).
Back to Eli. First season in, team goes 11-5 and reaches the playoffs. Eli was not spectacular, but leading the team to 5 more wins than last season is very impressive. He showed flashes of brilliance... followed by flashes of idiocy. His game was portrayed as inconsistent, and the New York fans would not accept failure. There were times where apparently people bashed Mara for his decision. Eli had did his job first 2 seasons, showing some potential but in flashes of the 2007 season, Eli looked downright awful. But this my friends, is where his legacy begins.
Something in Eli changed. Something happened during that miraculous playoff run to win 4 straight road playoff gams and defeat great 18-0 Patriots. Eli fixed himself somehow. And help with a great defense, Eli and the Giants knocked out the Patriots.
I'm not going to go on and explain this and that about his journey. I'm not a sports writer. I don't do that, and I don't want to do that, because I know all of you know what he has done, and has watched him grow into what he is today. But what I want to say, is that his legacy began in 2007.
Ever since 2007, Eli has never had a season with a QB rating below 85 for the season average. He has never completed less than 60% of his passes for the season. He hasn't thrown less than 27 TDs since 2008. He hasn't thrown less than 4000yds in a season since 2008. He's led 14 game-winning drives since 2007. In that time frame, he has had 48 4th quarter TD passes. Rodgers only has 29 in his whole career. Before that he only had 4 Game Winning Drives 4th Quarter Drives, with a average QB rating of 85.64 for that game. Eli never did anything even close to that before that special season. On the All-Time Game Winning Drive list, Eli is only 21 drives away from Peyton, and Eli is only 31.
Fast forwarding to 2011. Eli has the most 4th Quarter TDs in NFL History. He threw for almost 5,000 yards (4,933 - Peyton never threw for more than 4,700 in a season). With a depleted NY Giants team, Eli lead the team to a mediocre 9-7 record under a tough schedule to first in the division. You all know what happened after that. You don't need retelling, right? Eli beat Falcons (destroyed), Packers (manhandled), 49ers (comeback) and the Patriots (comeback) to win his 2nd SuperBowl ring, and a his 2nd SuperBowl MVP status. Eli earned him and Coughlin a spot in history as one of the great QB-coaching tandems.
The reason I talk about the his ability in the clutch a lot is because being clutch gets you wins. It doesn't matter what happens the first 3 quarters just so long as in the fourth, you pull away with a win. Eli, has done that, and much much more. Sure, his record may be broken later, but if it will, it will undoubtedly be done an elite QB. There is no questioning what he has done to this team. But gives him that advantage in the 4th? What happens in those moments, that turns him into one of the greatest QBs alive? His ability to stay cool. His ability to not lose focus or overplay his limits. Most importantly, his ability to lead. Leaders are what make a QB. Seemingly goofy to the outside, this man Eli has more leadership ability than most QBs in the league.
Just to put some stats to bolster the achievements accomplished in Eli's career, let's look at how he compares to true HOFs, ones that will never be doubted, and never were.
What else defines a QB as elite, as Hall of Fame material? As a QB a team WANTS on their team, no matter what. Clutch factor? Check that. Postseason performance? Let's delve into that one.
Ever since the start of the 2007 playoffs, Eli Manning has a record of 8-1. 8 wins, 1 loss. With an AVERAGE QB rating of 93.0. That's ridiculous. That's about a full 9 points more than his rating in the regular season. Add that to a 15-4 TD:INT ratio. Thus proving, Eli's poise and elite play within the most critical parts of the NFL year. Let's just compare that to few other players, whom I've chosen their BEST 3 consecutive years in the postseason with stats similar to Eli's.
Peyton Manning (3-3): (2004, 2005, 2006) *I excluded his SuperBowl win because he didn't play as well although I do not take away any credit for him winning. If you want, I can replace 2003 with 2006 if you guys do not deem it fair.
QB rating: 106.4
TD:INT ratio of 14-6
Tom Brady (7-1): (2004,2005,2006) 2 Super Bowl Wins
QB rating: 96.7
TD:INT ratio of 14-5
Kurt Warner (5-2): (2000, 2001, 2002) 1 Super Bowl win (I would have put his 2008 postseason BUT it was too far away from his other season and he had a whole new team and was a lot older)
QB rating: 92.3
TD:INT ratio of 15-10
Of all these players, Eli "The Interception Machine" Manning has the LEAST amount of interceptions of them all and has the best TD:Int ratio. As well as the best postseason record. I know this is a small sample size, and is not the greatest way to compare the players but it serves its purpose saying that Eli is up there with the greats when it comes to postseason performance. Now its: clutch factor - check, leadership ability - check and playoff performance - check.
But what is a player with a few records? This is just some of the records Eli already has in this great QB infested league.
A 2-time Pro-Bowler and 2-time Super Bowl MVP, Eli has ousted almost-guaranteed HOF Brady twice on the biggest stage of season. With a few records having his name at the top of the list, Eli has just begun. At 31, Eli has lots of time to do more. More rings, more records, more respect. This, is the legacy of Eli Manning.
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