A couple of weeks ago I asked you to vote on which NFC East quarterback you would be most willing to build a franchise around.
Of the 24 votes cast so far, I am mildly surprised that 16 of them (67%) have gone to the Giants Eli Manning.
Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. This is, after all, a Giants blog visited mostly by Giants fans (I hope). Talking about Manning always seems to lead to an argument, though. Is he a superstar? A bum? An average quarterback? Overrated? A guy who still has time to get better?
Everybody seems to have a different opinion, so I wasn't expecting the show of support for Eli. I'll leave the poll up for a few more days, so feel free to add your vote if you haven't done so already.
I'll get to my choice later on, but let's quickly break down the division's four starting quarterbacks.
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles -- Entering his 9th season, McNabb is one of the premier quarterbacks in the league when healthy. His health is a major question, though. McNabb has had injury problems the past two seasons, and is coming off a knee injury now. Even the Eagles have ehdged their bets, drafting quarterback Kevin Kolb in the second round.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys -- After 3½ seasons of learning on the bench, Bill Parcells finally gave Romo an opportunity midway through last season. Romo was often brilliant in 10 games (9 starts), completing 65% of his passes and throwing for 19 touchdowns. He ended up going to the Pro Bowl. Entering this season you have to wonder if he really is that good, or if the half season just wasn't enough to expose weaknesses in his game.
Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins -- Campbell, who is entering his third year, got 7 starts at the end of last season for Washington. He was often impressive, and those who have watched him progress throughout the offseason think he could have a good year. Starting Campbell is the right move for the Redskins, but there are sure to be growing pains.
Eli Manning, New York Giants -- Ah, what to make of Eli? In his 2½ years as a starter Manning has taken Giants fans on a rollercoaster ride. Sometimes he's been spectacular, other times he's been downright awful. We know he has a great arm, a great pedigree and is very bright. We also know he's scatter-armed, shies away from the pass rush and is not a take-charge type of player. Will he develop into a star, or is what we see now what we will get for the rest of his career? That is the question upon which the future of the Giants franchise rests.
So, now, back to the original question. Which quarterback would you build a franchise around?
If we were talking about which quarterback you would trust to lead you to a Super Bowl today, I'd take McNabb. But, there is a lot of mileage on Donovan's tires and I wouldn't want to build a franchise around him right now.
As for Campbell, he might very well be a quality NFL quarterback. Yet, the sample size with him is so far very small and you can't really draw any conclusions from off-season workouts.
So, for me, this is a choice between Romo and Manning.
The sample size with Romo is also small -- just 9 starts. He was phenomenal for the Cowboys, though, playing well in pressure situations and leading them to the playoffs.
Can he repeat that kind of success, though? I am not sure. He's running around judging beauty pageants and dating superstar singer Carrie Underwood, and I wonder just how much time he has spent working on becoming a better quarterback.
That leaves me with Eli. Progress with Manning has been painfully slow, yet each season his completion percentage has gotten better. He will never equal the accomplishments of his brother, Peyton, but I believe he will continue to get better.
One thing Manning has shown throughout his career is that he may fear oncoming rushers, but he does not fear the fourth quarter of a close game. Even as a rookie, he led comebacks.
Will he ever gain the full respect of all of his teammates and full control of the locker room? I don't know. Will he ever lead the Giants to a championship? I think he will.
Of all the NFC East quarterbacks I think Manning is the one most likely to be a star 5 years from now. Thus, if I'm taking an NFC East quarterback to build a team around, I'm taking Eli.