It was just happenstance that Manning’s turn in our daily profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster came up at the start of the week, but it certainly is fitting because he will be key to the Giants’ success or failure in 2018.
As a part of Eli’s profile, we added a poll asking you how many touchdowns you think Manning will throw in the 2018 season.
As of this writing, the results are as follows:
- Less Than 20 Touchdowns - 41 votes (4 percent)
- Between 20 - 25 Touchdowns - 256 votes (24 percent)
- Between 25 - 30 Touchdowns - 462 votes (43 percent)
- More than 30 Touchdowns - 320 votes (30 percent)
The Giants’ Twitter account asked fans a few days earlier to predict how many yards Manning will throw for this year.
Fill in the blank: Eli Manning will throw for _____ touchdown passes this season? pic.twitter.com/TFmZDxbbof— New York Giants (@Giants) June 22, 2018
I decided to use those two questions as a jumping off point to ask the rest of the staff for their early predictions for Eli in 2018.
Let’s see what they had to say:
Back in April, I spent about 2,500 words, several graphs, and many videos on this question. It’s hard to look back on those numbers and plays then suggest there’s some massive bounce back on the horizon for the 37-year-old quarterback.
The more I watch what Pat Shurmur did in Minnesota last season, the more I like his play design. There’s going to be more situations when it will be easier for the quarterback to win the play. There’s going to be more play-action in the offense, which is always a good thing.
But it’s still hard to not think there’s going to be a lower ceiling on what the offense can achieve because of the current skill level of the quarterback. Only three quarterbacks threw for more than 30 touchdowns last season, so predicting that seems insane. I’d even take the under on 25 passing touchdowns, a mark only 10 quarterbacks reached in 2017.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the quarterback play this year tops out at “fine.” While that would be an improvement over the past few seasons, it might not be enough to justify the all-in approach going into the season.
I’m usually not big on making predictions so far in advance only because a lot can happen and go wrong — a team could lose its top receivers, its offensive line could turn out to be not very good after an offseason of hype, the running game could turn out to be a dud, the locker room could splinter...
Oh yeah — all that happened last year as part of a perfect storm that shipwrecked the S.S. Giants and caused enough of a mutiny that didn’t end very well for the team’s leadership.
Okay, so let’s get back to the question at hand. New admiral Dave Gettleman has recruited some significant upgrade in talent — Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh, and rookie Will Hernandez on the offensive line, and rookie Saquon Barkley to save the running backs.
Captain Pat Shurmur, along with right-hand man Mike Shula has been installing an offensive system that has been described by many as being quarterback friendly, and one which will presumably take better advantage of the talents of the personnel.
What does this all mean for Eli Manning and his touchdown count? With the Giants offense likely to return to more of a run-pass balance that has been missing for the last few years,
I’m thinking Manning’s final touchdown tally for 2018 will be somewhere between 25-30 for the season.
I’m also thinking the Giants running backs will finally crack the double-digit mark in rushing touchdowns for the first time since the 2014 season when the group recorded 13 rushing touchdowns.
If I was voting, I would say 25 or more. Maybe not 30 or more. That seems to be the sweet spot. I wrote an opus on Manning early in the week, so I’m not going to go into any great depth here. Folks who read regularly know where I stand on Manning. I still think there is enough in the tank for him to play well, provided he has has time to throw and talented players to throw the ball to.
Now that everyone else has offered their thoughts, I have to say that this is a bit of a silly exercise. After all, it's still only June, and there is so much important information that we just don't know yet. Things like how the offensive line will come together or what the scheme and play-calls will even look like.
However, I also have to admit: I'm an optimist, and I'm bullish on Eli heading into 2018.
While there is a lot we don't know, we do have some bits of the big picture, and I choose to see them as encouraging.
First, everywhere Pat Shurmur has gone, quarter backs have had career years. His efforts to scheme to players strengths, teach those schemes, and emphasize efficient play calling has generally paid dividends.
Next, we have evidence that the Giants will be running quite a bit of "12" personnel, play-action passes, and passes to running backs. All of which are generally more efficient modes of offense than the version of the West Coast offense the Giants ran under Ben McAdoo, which should only help Manning.
I think I’ll go there and say that Eli very well could have a resurgent year under Shurmur, surrounded by Odell Beckham Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Saquon Barkley, and a completely remodeled offensive line.
So, to put numbers to it: 4,400 yards, 34 touchdowns, 14 interceptions.
It isn’t the most yards, touchdowns, or fewest interceptions Eli has thrown for, but it would still be one of his best seasons.
Essentially, I have Eli picking up where he left off in 2015, as though Ben McAdoo’s head coaching stint never happened. In some ways, that is what the Giants are trying to accomplish with Shurmur — keep the QB-friendly basics of the West Coast Offense, but recombine them with a running game, play-action, and vertical elements to keep defenses honest. That’s fairly similar to the balance struck by Tom Coughlin’s preferred “old school” scheme and what McAdoo brought with him from Green Bay.
With a better teacher and an offense littered with explosive playmakers, Eli is well-supported. We’ll see if it pays off, but I choose to be optimistic in June.