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Eli Manning And The Perils Of Aging Quarterbacks

Data from Pre-Snap Reads shows trend with QBs 35 and older

NFL: NFC Wild Card-New York Giants at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, New York Giants fans! We begin today with some info from Cian Fahey of Pre-Snap Reads, a site focused purely on quarterback play, about the difficulty NFL teams face in making it through seasons with quarterbacks 35 or older. Eli Manning of the New York Giants is, of course, 36 and entering his 14th season.

Fahey’s focuses on arm strength, specifically, the difference in how well quarterbacks 35 or older were throwing the ball at the beginning of the 2016 season vs. the end. In each case, he found that quarterbacks 35 or older threw the ball better at the beginning of the season than at the end.

He writes:

Older quarterbacks suffered significant drop offs in velocity and effectiveness as the season wore on. ... this trend must serve as a warning sign for teams with older quarterbacks. You can’t expect a 35+ year old quarterback to carry your offense and throw the ball 600 times in the regular season and then go on a playoff run. It’s difficult to limit your quarterback’s attempts unless you have a stacked roster, but that is the quandary of relying on an elder starter.

Here is what Fahey wrote about Manning:

Arm strength was clearly an issue for Manning after the first couple weeks of the season.

Playing behind Ereck Flowers meant that Manning was regularly forced to throw from uncomfortable platforms. Those situations stressed Manning’s arm strength significantly more than when he could plant his feet in the pocket. Those situations also highlighted how Manning can no longer throw the ball accurately without his feet set beneath him.

Over the first eight games of the season, Manning had an accuracy percentage above 80 percent on five occasions. He opened the season with three games above 80 percent, one of which reached 90 percent. After his eighth game, Manning reached 80 percent again once in 10 games. Three times he was below 70 percent and once he fell as far as 53.85 percent.

Manning had 10 interceptable passes over the first eight games and 18 over the final 10 games. He finished the season with four interceptable passes against the Packers in a game where he repeatedly overshot Odell Beckham when the receiver was open downfield.

Each of the older quarterbacks Fahey studied suffered serious drop-offs in how well they threw the ball as the season went on — including Tom Brady. Still, we know that Giants fans only care about Manning.

Fahey’s study points to something we have said for years, and that becomes more and more important as the quarterback ages. For Manning to be consistently effective, the Giants have to protect him well enough to allow him to set his feet and step into throws. Which is why it is imperative that Flowers and Bobby Hart play better than they did a year ago.

Something else to consider is Manning’s usage with Ben McAdoo calling the plays. Manning’s three highest totals of passes attempted in a season — 601 in 2014, 618 in 2015 and 598 last season — have come in McAdoo’s offense. Maybe that’s simply part of an NFL trend that often replaces the running game with the quick, short pass. It is, however, difficult to ask an aging quarterback to throw more rather than less.

The Giants last season limited how much Manning threw during the week. We will have to see how they manage that going forward.

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