Could Eli Manning, who won two Super Bowls in a risk-taking, play-action, vertical passing game, adapt to the shorter, quicker rhythm throws and new footwork required in the West Coast offense? That was one of the big questions for the Giants entering the 2014 season, and in some quarters it still is.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin told Giants.com this week he never had a doubt that the quarterback would succeed in the new system.
"We wouldn't be featuring this if I didn't think he could thrive and excel," Coughlin said.
Is Manning thriving and excelling in the new system directed by first-time offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo? Four interceptions, a passer rating of 69.2 and a pair of season-opening losses thru two games would tell you no. A deeper look at the numbers, though, tells you that -- aside from his ongoing penchant for throwing too many balls to guys wearing the wrong color jersey -- Manning is at the very least adapting just fine.
Let's look at some numbers, many from Pro Football Focus.
-- Manning has a +2.1 rating from PFF, ninth in the league among quarterbacks. That, incidentally, is higher than his brother Peyton's +1.6 and higher than the -0.1 compiled thus far by Tom Brady.
-- While his NFL passer rating of 69.2 places him near the bottom of the league, his PFF rating of 81.70 (adjusted for several factors pure passer rating does not take into account) places him 15th overall.
-- The Giants have dropped seven of Manning's passes. Only Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens, who has seen his receivers drop 10 passes, has been let down by his pass-catchers more often.
-- Manning is completing 61.1 percent of his throws despite the drops.
-- Manning's accuracy percentage, compiled by Pro Football Focus, is 73.9 percent. That places him 12th. Accuracy percentage, incidentally, accounts for drops, balls thrown away, passes batted down, spiked passes and times a quarterback is hit while throwing.
-- Want a good reason why it is critical that the Giants give Manning a solid pocket to throw from? His accuracy percentage drops to 46.7, 22nd in the league, when he is under pressure. Manning's completion percentage when pressured is just 29.4.
All in all, it seems like Manning is adjusting just fine.
"If we don't have the two interceptions [vs. Arizona], we really have a very, very good game from our quarterback," Coughlin said. "He's very smart, he's very capable of great decisions. He understands coverages, he understands the progressions."
No matter what the system, for Manning it comes back to comfort in the pocket and not forcing throws into places where bad things will happen.