Although Eli Manning hung up his helmet and shoulder pads for good after the 2019 season, it hasn’t taken long for him to find a way back into the NFL. And while his new job doesn’t involve identifying a blitzing linebacker or making a touch pass in the red zone, Manning still has a big role to fill for the New York Giants.
In many ways, the reunion between the legendary quarterback and one of the NFL’s most confusing teams couldn’t have happened at a better time.
With the future of the franchise hanging in the balance, the Giants need a star of the past to help them more than ever.
The Giants haven’t figured out a way to win without Eli Manning
Did Manning hold the Giants back near the end of his career?
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the last time the team posted a winning record came with Manning under center. Since going 11-5 in 2016, the Giants have won a total of 18 regular-season games. Their struggles largely stem from the erratic play of starting quarterback Daniel Jones.
No matter how you slice it, Manning’s successor simply hasn’t lived up to expectations since arriving as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Turnover-prone (he’s fumbled 29 times in 27 games) and indecisive in the pocket, Jones has yet to prove he deserves the “franchise quarterback” label.
Until the Giants get more consistent play from the position, they will continue to have a difficult time winning football games. Jones faces enormous pressure to step up in his third year in the league, but it remains to be seen if he can take a major step in the right direction.
Still, with head coach Joe Judge working hard to establish a new culture, New York has a chance to climb up the NFC East standings. However, Judge needs help from players of the present and the past to lead the Giants back to the playoffs.
Manning is coming back to New York at exactly the right time
With the Giants looking to make a major leap in Judge’s second year at the helm, the team has turned to a familiar face for some help. Instead of playing quarterback, Manning will work for the organization in a business operations and fan engagement role. According to ESPN, he also will work on original content development.
“I’m willing to do anything. But I’m focused on the business side with corporate partners and on community relations, which was always so important to me while I was playing here and is something I’ve placed a high priority on throughout my life,” Manning said. “I’m looking forward to seeing where I can make the most impact in helping the Giants achieve their business and community goals.”
The Giants made a fantastic move by bringing back the four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion. Manning won’t have a direct impact on the game, but his presence could pay off in other ways. As one of the most beloved stars in franchise history, he should command instant respect in meetings and community events. And as one of the rare players to spend his entire NFL career with one franchise, Manning obviously has a strong connection with Giants fans.
Most importantly, he returns at a pivotal time in franchise history. While the quarterback position remains a question mark, the roster has enough talent at other positions to compete for a playoff spot. Giants fans have waited for Jones to turn the corner, but their patience could run out soon. Manning’s new role gives him an opportunity to connect with fans and inspire confidence about the future of a team that does carry intriguing upside.
The only question is: Will the Giants get back to winning now that Manning’s back?
Are brighter days ahead for Daniel Jones and the Giants?
Coming off a 6-10 season and second-place finish in the NFC East, the Giants have to make a dramatic turnaround on offense if they plan on playing in the postseason for the first time since 2016. Luckily for Jones, general manager Dave Gettleman has actually done a decent job building a strong supporting cast around him.
Kenny Golladay, who led the NFL with 11 touchdown receptions in 2019, joined the Giants on a four-year, $72 million contract. The former Detroit Lions wideout brings much-needed size (6-foot-4, 214 pounds) and big-play ability to a Giants offense that finished 31st in scoring last season. Plus, the Giants added a dynamic playmaker in the 2021 NFL draft by selecting Florida’s Kadarius Toney with the 20th overall pick.
Of course, the fate of the franchise rests largely on the shoulders of Saquon Barkley. Coming off a season-ending torn ACL, can he rediscover the form that made him such an electrifying force at Penn State? Or will he struggle to live up to his status as the No. 2 overall pick of the 2018 draft?
If Barkley comes back at full strength, the Giants have the talent at the skill positions to make life tough for opposing defenses. However, everything still depends on Jones’ ability to take care of the football, make good decisions, and put points on the scoreboard.
Unfortunately for Giants fans, if the third-year quarterback doesn’t rise to the challenge, the franchise will have to hit the reset button at the most important position in sports.
Somehow, it seems like Eli Manning is going to be a bigger part of the Giants’ future than the player tasked with replacing him.