Eli Manning for MVP? No one mentions the New York Giants quarterback when they talk about 2009 candidates for the honor, and Mike Celizic of NBC Sports wonders why.
Go ahead and say that suggesting Manning the Younger could be a more deserving MVP candidate than his big brother, grizzled old Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers or Donovan McNabb is like taking the rice cakes over the aged prime rib. I’ll understand, because when the idea was first suggested to me, I thought the same thing.
But if you look at what the Giants have to work with, you have to admit there’s merit to the idea. In a year in which the Giants’ defense has played worse in each succeeding week, Eli Manning has without any fanfare been putting together the best season of his six-year career. Despite a month-long losing streak, the 8-6 Giants still have a shot at the postseason, and it’s all because of Eli Manning.
I’m not suggesting he’s the best quarterback in the league. Even I’m not that foolish. But we’re talking most valuable here, not best. And the reality is that the only way the Giants are getting into the playoffs is if Eli puts them on his shoulders and drags them there.
Eli, of course, will not even get little to no support in the MVP balloting. What Celizic is right about, though, is that you simply cannot underestimate how good Manning has been this season and how important he is to the Giants.
Eli is having the best season of his career, statistically and otherwise. He has the highest completion percentage, yards per game, yards per attempt and quarterback rating of his career. All of this while working with a new, inexperienced group of receivers who, while exciting and talented, are still prone to mistakes and drops. Also, consider how good his numbers would be had he not suffered the mid-season foot injury that impacted his throwing for a few weeks.
If you pay attention you also see how masterfully Eli orchestrates the line of scrimmage, changing protections and plays. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden could not stop gushing about Eli on Monday night. Gruden's hyperbole aside, he had a point.
Eli might not be the NFL MVP. He is, though, unquestionably the Giants' MVP.
There is no doubt Eli belongs on the list when you discuss the top 6-8 quarterbacks in the league. I know there is still a faction out there, even among Giants fans, who believe Manning is not very good. They seize on every mistake to say 'I told you so.'
All I can say to that small faction is, you are wrong. You formed your opinion a long time ago, and you have closed your mind to objectively watching what you are seeing.
That's too bad. Because you are missing being able to appreciate the guy who will finish his career as the best quarterback to ever wear a Giants uniform.
|2009 - Eli Manning||14||96||271||443||61.2||3584||256||8.1||26||11||15||59||4.2||3.9||0||23||156|