This season, he has been the other NFL quarterback crafting a superb season, with the bulk of the attention going to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, New England’s Tom Brady and Drew Brees of New Orleans.
But the season that Eli Manning is putting together deserves notice as well, experts say.
“It’s phenomenal, the year he’s having,” former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann said. “He’s throwing the ball as well as just about anybody, next to Aaron Rodgers.”
Manning has the New York Giants tied for first place in the NFC East, though with a modest record of 7-6, entering Sunday’s game against the Redskins at MetLife Stadium.
He has thrown for 4,105 yards and 25 touchdowns. Manning has joined Brees, Brady and Rodgers on pace to top 5,000 passing yards this season. To date, there have been only two 5,000-yard passing seasons in league history, by Dan Marino for the Miami Dolphins in 1984 and by Brees for the Saints in 2008. Manning has a trio of 400-yard passing games this season, tied for the most ever in an NFL season.
Manning has done all of this while cutting down markedly on his interceptions. He threw 25 of them last season, but has only 12 through 13 games this season.
“This year, he’s very, very conscious” of avoiding turnovers, Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said at a news conference early in the week. “He’s been very accurate. And I think one of the things you saw [during last Sunday night’s comeback victory at Dallas] was he can move around and create some things for himself. But when he finds that that still hasn’t solved all of his issues, he throws the ball away.
“That is a real, real positive step for a quarterback to be able to recognize that you’ve pushed a bunch of buttons and nothing seems to answer anything for you and before you get yourself into trouble and lose yardage, throw the ball away. That is something that I think I have noticed,” Coughlin said.
Manning has had little help from the Giants’ usually reliable running game. They’re ranked last in the league in rushing offense. But he has two wideouts, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, already over 1,000 receiving yards apiece for the season.
“His receivers are healthy,” said Theismann, an analyst for the NFL Network. “He has a chance to stand in the pocket. He’s not always running for his life. Even when he’s on the move, his throws are right on the money. He is throwing the ball with uncanny accuracy. He throws the ball with guys right in his face, and it’s right there. He has very good receivers. The Redskins will certainly have their hands full this weekend.”