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Why does Eli still have to prove himself?

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Without Plaxico Burress, and possibly with Brandon Jacobs sidelined for now, the New York Giants will likely depend more on the throwing arm of Eli Manning the rest the way.

Apparently, in the eyes of many New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning still has to prove himself.

  • It seems being the reigning Super Bowl MVP is not enough.
  • It seems that being the quarterback for an 11-2 team which has already clinched a division title and is second in the league in total points is not enough.
  • It seems posting a career best 61.1% completion percentage so far this season and appearing headed to his first Pro Bowl is not enough.
  • It seems that having a far superior overall record to his brother Peyton, as well as winning a Super Bowl earlier than his brother -- considered one of the game's two best quarterbacks -- is not enough.

Not that long ago the discussion revolved around the idea that Eli was suddenly the better of the two Manning quarterbacks. Now, two bad losses -- a poorly-played game against Philadelphia and Plaxico Burress' season-ending suspension -- and questions are again being asked about whether or not Eli can carry the burden for the Giants' offense.

Tuesday I stumbled across what I guess is a weekly feature called 'Poor Eli' on the 'Game On' blog hosted by MSG.com. I gather that this is simply a place where Eli-bashers can get together each week to share in their misery.

Here are some of the quotes that 'Game On' compiled.

Matthew Berry, ESPN

"Eli Manning: The second-half-swoon trend continues."

Matt Bowen, The National Football Post

"Eli Manning looked like a rookie playing in December for the first time in his career."

Kevin Sherrington, The Dallas Morning News

"The Giants just lost at home to Philadelphia in a game whereEli Manning looked like the Eli Manning we once knew."

I thought we had gotten over this kind of nonsense already.

A quote from our very own 'Potroast' in the comments from one of Tuesday's posts largely summed up the way I feel about Eli.

I’m sorry, but you gotta laugh at the Eli doubters. I don’t even think they are watching him play this year with those kind of conclusions. Their dislike (and mostly hatred) is blinding their judgment. When the Giants can’t run, Eli can get the job done with his arm (as long as our WRs show up, which they didn’t last week). He has turned into a top 10 QB. Among the very elite (like top 3)? No. But easily top 10. Just check out the Football Outsider rankings. He’s in the top 10 in all their categories.

Thanks, 'Pot.' You made this easier for me. Stealing someone else's lines is sooo much easier than coming up with my own.

Anyway, I just don't know how much more a guy has to do before people stop acting like Eli is some sort of weak link, like the Giants have won in spite of him rather than because of him.

Steve Serby of the New York Post is one of those who in an Eli believer, who understands that you have to see beyond the less than sexy number of 300-yard passing games and the lack of record-setting numbers.

The game changes for the Giants with Plaxico Burress gone and no one to draw double coverage, so don't expect them to run for 200 or more yards in a game anytime soon (see Eagles game).Big Blue's Super Bowl hopes and dreams will come down to Pass/Fail.

I confronted Manning with that burden yesterday and he didn't even blink.

Those slumped shoulders of yesteryear have given way to a Bring It On swagger - what every championship team needs to see in its leader.

They will dare Manning to beat them from here to Super Bowl XLIII, especially given January in East Rutherford if and when the Giants clinch that No. 1 seed, and he will relish taking that dare.

Here is a little more from Serby. I truly do love it when other people make my arguments for me.

The Giants are NFC East champions for plenty of reasons - the best offensive line in football, the legs of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and John Carney, the pugnacious defense, Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff, superior veteran leadership - and the winner who plays quarterback.

His won-lost record is 41-27. Phil Simms was 34-34 after the same 68 games, before finishing 95-64, with two Super Bowl rings. Simms had Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson and Carl Banks on his side - and Joe Morris and later Ottis Anderson - but when Bill Parcells asked him to go win the game, he could, and did (see Pasadena). Manning has Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Antonio Pierce on his side - and Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward - but when Coughlin asks him to win the game, he can, and will.

"We have a dominant defense, we have a strong running attack, but you gotta have a quarterback who can throw it when they dare you to throw it, and that's what I hope - I hope they stack eight guys in the box, that's what I'm looking for," Manning said.

Eli will be just fine, and, provided his receivers make plays for him -- which they did not on Sunday -- the Giants will be just fine, too.

I have faith. If you don't I have no idea what more Manning can do to convince you.