It seems like Eli Manning Day here at Big Blue View. Earlier today, our player profile of Manning discussed whether or not Manning could have a bounce-back season in 2014. So, with Friday being the Fourth of July let's allow the fireworks to continue with a look at where NFL league insiders rank Manning among the league's projected starters.
A combination of coaches, GMs, former GMs, pro personnel evaluators and team executives took part in an ESPN Insider project that placed all of the league's projected starting quarterbacks in one of five tiers. Manning, despite his awful 2013 season, was placed in Tier 2. Manning tied for eighth on the list with Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Russell Wilson. Per ESPN, 17 of 26 voters had the Giants' quarterback in the second tier.
Here is what was said about Manning:
"He is really a two when you supply him with the right weapons," a head coach said. "He is a guy that has the ultimate trust in a big wide receiver."
Some thought Manning would benefit from a scheme change this offseason, but most of the voters placing him in the second tier sounded a little apprehensive. "I see Eli having a hard time generating things on his own," one GM said. "I don't see a great decision-maker. He has never struck me as a take-charge, carry-the-team type of guy." That GM put Manning in the third tier. Another drew comparisons between Manning and the Kurt Warner who became gun-shy at times later in his career.
"Eli can go from a championship quarterback to throwing five interceptions in one game," an offensive coordinator said.
It is hard to argue with any of that. One of the points I was attempting to make earlier today is that the Giants needed Manning to carry them in 2013, and he couldn't do it. For me, he has always been a quarterback who could take advantage of the right weapons, but didn't really lift lesser players. That keeps him out of Tier 1 and places him in Tier 2.
Here is part of what I wrote earlier:
The Giants were a bad football team for a lot of reasons in 2013, and they desperately needed their two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback to rise above the mess, to carry them on his shoulders and lead them out of the morass that poor personnel decisions and a rash of injuries left them in. Instead, Manning succumbed to the decaying structure around them. He could not rise up and toss the Giants a life raft. Rather, he went down with the ship. In fact, in the end his frustration and poor play helped sink it.
There is also the "go from a championship quarterback to throwing five interceptions in one game," Manning. It is the truth, and it is the most confounding thing about Manning. How can a player with such a high ceiling and such an amazing quarterback pedigree swing so wildly from playing such great football at times to playing like a high school JV quarterback at other times?
Here are the first two tiers in the ESPN ranking:
Tier 2 is probably the right place for Manning. Do you agree or disagree, Giants fans?