At 38 years old, Eli Mannings’ best days are behind him. While Tom Brady and Drew Brees may still put up superstar numbers in their 40s, Manning may soon find himself on the bench.
The New York Giants quarterback has remained remarkably healthy during his career — only missing one game since 2005. Manning has always been a non-traditional NFL quarterback, even at the top of his game. After getting just eight wins the last two seasons, however, the Giants could look toward the future.
Eli Manning’s career
With a family legacy behind him, Manning entered the NFL with higher expectations than a first pick usually has. He may not have reached the heights his brother reached, but he did become the first Manning brother to win a Super Bowl. Despite his big name, two rings, and long, healthy career, Manning has never quite broken into the realm of superstars.
As Giants Wire‘s Dan Benton points out, Manning has never stood out on a stat sheet, even when winning Super Bowls. While he’s had a knack for making the right plays at the right times, he’s also developed a reputation as a less-than-elite passer with a knack for interceptions and overthrows.
Where does he rank?
In Pro Football Focus’s 2019 starting quarterback rankings, Manning ranks 29th out of 32 projected starters. In his career, he’s only finished in the top 10 in 2011 and 2012. Manning’s loss of arm-strength and turnovers have worked against him. PFF compare him unfavorably to Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, another player who famously won a Super Bowl despite some big flaws in his game.
Brees and Brady top the list, showing that age is less of a factor when somebody has the tools, team, and talent to make it work. But quarterbacks who don’t touch that tier will never receive the long leash these superstars have. If the Giants didn’t have another option, they may stand behind Manning, but there’s a young alternative who could take the reins.
Daniel Jones was the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft. Obviously, the Giants intend on making him the starter before long, but it may come sooner than Manning would like. With an accurat throwing arm, the 22-year-old impressed in training camp. ESPN even named him the Giants training camp MVP.
Jones started in three of his four seasons at Duke, throwing for 8,201 yards and 52 touchdowns during his college career against just 29 interceptions. In his two preseason appearances, he’s completed 16 of his 19 passes for 228 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and no interceptions.
While college stats and training camp aren’t the best gauges of a player’s career, if Jones impressed the coaches and front office as much as the media, then the question is when he will take over the starting spot this season, not if.
The end of an era?
Eli Manning has spent his entire career proving people wrong. People thought he would live off his family name, so he won two Super Bowls and will likely be inducted into Canton.
Does he have one more trick up his sleeve? If so, he may be able to squeeze another season or two out of his career. If not, this season will likely be the last we see of Manning in a Giants uniform.