At times over the past couple of seasons I have done New York Giants roster power rankings. Quarterback Eli Manning has always been No. 1 in those rankings. If I was to do one of those right now Manning might get eclipsed for the top spot by Odell Beckham. That, of course, is more about the unprecedented rookie season Beckham is having than anything Manning has, or hasn't, done.
Manning is having the best statistical regular season of his 11-year career. With one game to go his completion percentage (64.1), passer rating (93.5) and QBR (72.67) are all career bests. He has 29 touchdown passes two short of his career high. He has 13 interceptions, and if that number does not increase against the Eagles it will be the second-lowest full-season total of his career. He threw only 10 in 2008. His 2.4 percent interception rate is also the second-best of his career.
It is two days before Christmas, and Manning's play has made it pretty obvious that the Giants won't be unwrapping the "gift" of a new franchise quarterback any time soon. Tom Coughlin said Monday that Manning's talent and durability provide "a wonderful starting point" for putting together a team.
This week's 'Five Things I Think I Think' is simply a look at five teams and five quarterback situations that should make you rejoice that Manning is behind center for the Giants.
Chicago Bears, Jay Cutler
How on earth did the Bears think giving Cutler a seven-year, $126.7 million contract was a good idea? Cutler's incomprehensible play and reportedly poor attitude earned him a seat on the bench in the first year of that deal that runs through 2020 and could get Marc Trestman fired. Adam Schefter has reported that to unload the big albatross the Bears would probably have to give up Cutler and a first-round pick and hope someone would give them a Day 3 pick just for taking back the contract.
Arizona Cardinals and ... well, whoever
The Cardinals have been through Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and are now stuck with the hopelessly-in-over-his-head Ryan Lindley. The Cardinals are 11-4, but have lost three of five and know they are going nowhere without a real quarterback. Even Kurt Warner, who hasn't played since 2009, recently admitted he wondered if he could still play well enough to help the Cardinals. Tim Tebow, anyone?
Manning has made 166 straight starts. He's better than Palmer, anyway. The Giants have seen seasons implode for a lot of reasons during Manning's career, but never because Eli couldn't make it to the starting gate.
Philadelphia Eagles, Mark Sanchez/Nick Foles
Chip Kelly has a lot of great pieces in Philadelphia. He still doesn't have a quarterback who can erase that big goose egg in the Super Bowl victory column for the Eagles. Sanchez has 12 touchdown passes, but 10 interceptions and seven fumbles in seven games. In eight games, Foles had 13 TDs, 10 interceptions and three fumbles.
Cleveland Browns, Johnny Manziel
The Browns drafted Johnny Football this year, waited until Week 15 to play him and lost him to a hamstring injury Sunday early in his second career game. This really isn't about Manziel. Rather, it's about a franchise completely unable to figure out the quarterback position.
Since Manning came into the league in 2004 the Browns have used 17 different quarterbacks. They have not gotten through a single season with one quarterback starting every game. The closest they got was 2007, when Derek Anderson started 15 games. Anderson, 34 starts from 2006-2009, has the most starts of any Cleveland quarterback during that time.
That is just a little perspective on how fortunate the Giants have been.
New York Jets, Geno Smith
Rex Ryan is about to be fired. Maybe John Idzik, too. No way the Jets pass on either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. They will be back to square one, starting over again next season. Enough said.
One Final Thing I Think I Think
Manning has one year left on his contract, and I think it's time the Giants gave the 33-year-old 11-year veteran a contract extension. The Giants' offense is obviously pointed in the right direction. That, of course, has a lot to do with Odell Beckham. It also, however, has a lot to do with the increasingly good play of the quarterback.
Manning has always been capable of some thoroughly abominable performances, and even in the less risk-averse West-Coast based offense of Ben McAdoo he proved with a five-interception game against the San Francisco 49ers that he still is. He always will occasionally have horrendous games and occasionally make some of the worst throws imaginable.
The five games since that debacle should remind of us what the upside of Manning is. Pat Traina of Bleacher Report, with an assist from Pro Football Focus, compiled the numbers. Over the last five games he has completed 69.7 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns, just two interceptions and a passer rating of 109.2.
A two-year extension that would carry him through his age 36 season in 2017 sounds about right to me. How about you?