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New York Giants’ midseason review: What to make of Eli Manning

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

No matter how you broach a discussion on the play of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, there will be much gnashing of teeth. There will also be little, if any, changing of minds that were long ago made up regarding the Giants’ 14-year veteran quarterback.

Manning has supporters who believe he is better than the overall numbers indicate, that with a functional supporting cast he can still perform at a high level.

Manning also has detractors who believe that he is a huge part of the problem. He’s too immobile, too old, too inaccurate, too worried about being hit.

The truth is probably somewhere in between. The old adage is that quarterbacks get too much of the blame when things to wrong and too much of the credit when they go right. Manning probably exemplifies that.

Let’s discuss Manning as we continue our position-by-position midseason reviews.

The Giants’ offense hasn’t been good this season, obviously. They finally crept over the 20-point mark in four straight games after going eight straight without doing so. The Giants still haven’t hit the 30-point plateau in Ben McAdoo’s tenure as head coach. In two weeks without Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard the Giants have totaled 249 net passing yards.

Manning bears some responsibility for all of it. The early-season struggles, even when he was under siege from poor protection. The recent woes, even though he’s throwing to a bunch of guys who probably shouldn’t be playing. He’s missed some throws, maybe gotten in the habit of trying to get the ball so quickly he’s not finding the best place to throw it. Manning is 29th in the league in passer rating and 24th in QBR.

It is still impossible for me to judge how much Eli has slipped at the age of 36 or what percentage of the blame for the offensive struggles should sit on his shoulders. I also really don’t know if there’s anything Manning can do to change it. The Giants aren’t going to find better players over the final nine games.

Manning is 55-of-94 for 644 yards, six touchdowns and 11.7 yards per reception this season throwing the ball to Evan Engram and the now missing Odell Beckham Jr. He is 64-of-105 for 691 yards and three scores throwing to his other wide receivers and tight ends. In the past two weeks, Engram has hauled in 11 of Manning’s 30 completions.

Manning hasn’t been good enough. I’m just not sure, though, how much better he can be considering what he has to work with.

Overall grade: “Kwillie.” I’m sure many will accuse me of being soft on Manning by not giving him a straight-up “Wet Willie.” I just can’t, though, considering the mess around him.