MythBusters: "Eli's Comin'???"

You've heard it enough to just about believe it - Eli Manning is the NFL's Next Great QB. Some would tell you that the waiting period is over, and he's already there. In the interest of discovering where "there" really is, Seahawks.NET's Doug Farrar reviewed the Seahawks-Giants game and came away with a few revelations.

“Peyton has Hall of Fame stats; Eli has All-Pro stats and an extra something that can't really be defined. You just know it when you see it. Jeter has it. Brady and Big Papi have it. Favre still has it from time to time. I think David Wright has it in him. So does Ginobili. Certain guys just seem to stand out in big spots. They have that extra something.

And that something manifests itself in little ways…like the way his teammates mobbed him after the winning TD in the Denver game (you know the QB is clicking with his team when the defensive players mob him after a big play), or all the "As long as we have Eli, we know we have a chance" quotes that filtered out of Jersey. He's special. You can see it.

Does that mean his brother isn't special? Of course not. But something happens to Peyton in certain big spots, and you can see that, too. He gets a little jittery. Makes that weird face like he just stepped in dog poop. Gets frustrated easily. Misses throws he normally bangs out. On the sideline, his teammates don't have that "I'd kill for this guy" look in their eyes. Again, it's nothing tangible, but that's the great thing about football -- not everything has to make sense on paper.” – Bill Simmons, "Who's The Manning?", ESPN.com, October 28, 2005


Good gracious, Bill. As a Boston guy, I’d expect you to sniff out New York hype and rebut it better than anyone…but I suppose if you’re hit with the same stick enough times, you tend to believe what you’re told.

And this is a stick we’ve all been battered with, ad nauseam, all season long. Not only is Eli Manning on his WAY to becoming a great NFL quarterback…heck…he’s already there! Ignore the inexplicable throws, the wavering under pressure, the questionable decision-making…Eli Manning is already an All-Pro quarterback.

So there.

Unfortunately, the stats don’t really back up the hype. After eleven games in 2005, Manning is 18th in the NFL in passer rating (81.1). While he’s seventh in the league in passing yards (2,664), he ranks 20th in yards per attempt (6.92). This has a lot to do with his abysmal completion percentage (52.5%, 30th in the NFL). He’s third in the league in touchdowns with 20…but as we will see, his scores have a great deal to do with who's catching them. He's fifteenth in the NFL in yards after catch for quarterbacks (972), but there's no stat for quarterbacks whose receivers climb the ladder to nab overthrows, or otherwise mitigate a faulty compass with their own athleticism. This is not a quarterback who has proven conclusively that he could succeed in a lesser system, and he’s got two stud wideouts who can go deep and spread the field, an ungodly tight end, and a great halfback who can catch the ball out of the backfield.

When the Seahawks and Giants faced off at Qwest Field on November 27, I knew it would be an excellent chance to get a good read on Manning and his abilities. I am familiar with Seattle’s defense – its strengths and weaknesses, and how it might be exploited. When pundits point to Manning’s statistical upsurges in the last two minutes of each half, I know that the Seahawks tend to play it safe defensively during those times, an assertion that was reinforced during this game. I knew that Seattle’s cornerbacks would be giving up height advantages of anywhere from 5 to 7 inches on Shockey, Burress and Toomer, leading to a preponderance of jump balls. I knew that to impress me, Elisha would have to hit some real whiz-bang throws under pressure. I’d need to see some creativity, and the ability to adjust on the fly. For me to believe that Eli Manning is really all that and a bag of chips, I would need to see the attributes that define the best quarterbacks in any era.

Let’s just say that the jury is still very much out on this kid. Take away his location and his last name, and what do we have?

To get a better idea, I reviewed and charted every Giants pass play in the NYG-SEA game, in which Manning completed 29 passes in 53 attempts for 344 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT and a passer rating of 79.4.

Down-Dis

Time-QTR

YD Line-Gain

Blitz?

Summary

1st and 10

11:27/1st

NYG 18/INC

No

Giants in an offset I with Burress wide right and Toomer wide left. Shockey in motion from right to left. Manning underthrows Toomer in front of Marcus Trufant at the NYG 30. Pressure from Grant Wistrom, who stunted from RDE and got in Manning’s face, was a factor here.

3rd and 7

10:46/1st

NYG 21/11 yds

No

Manning in the shotgun with a two-back set – after the snap, LDE Bryce Fisher starts to get around RT Kareem McKenzie, but Manning steps up in the pocket and gets the ball to Shockey over the middle at the 30. A tad wobbly, but Manning showed cool in getting out of the pressure and making the throw.

1st and 10

10:06/1st

NYG 32/6 yds

No

Single back set, three wide. TE in motion from right to left with man coverage. RDT Chuck Darby beats the LG and the center to get in the kid’s face, and Eli dumps it right side to Toomer, who slips in front of Kelly Herndon. Herndon is giving up a 5-inch height advantage to Toomer (5’10” to 6’3”) and Manning has learned to toss the ball above the heads of his receivers for the quick advantage jump ball. Toomer does the work here.

3rd and 10

8:20/1st

NYG 32/9 yds

No

Shotgun – single back left. Manning takes the snap against a 3-man line – OLB Leroy Hill is at the line, but he covers Jeremy Shockey right from the snap. Fisher makes an amazing play here – takes McKenzie’s push from the left side and gets in Manning’s face all the way around to the right. When people talk about Fisher’s “motor”, this is what they mean. Manning dumps a little sidearm floober to Tiki Barber, who is standing completely uncovered at the left side 36. Hard to give Manning credit for this one, but I think I am required by law to do so, as this prayer of a dump-off pass is just the kind of thing the media loves about that wacky, irrepressible Brett Favre!

3rd and 6

2:12/1st

NYG 42/ INC

Yes - Tatupu

Tight formation – WR Tim Carter in motion from left to right. Tatupu blitzes from over center but is picked up. Manning throws to Burress on a shallow cross from left wideout. Burress gets tied up with the umpire for a split second, which puts a tic in his timing, and Manning appears to miss the adjustment. The ball clangs off Burress’ hands and is almost picked off by Jordan Babineaux. It appeared from Burress’ body language that Eli had time and let it fly a bit too soon – but the ball looked to be catchable.

1st and 10

0:31/1st

NYG 23/INC

Yes -
Hill

I Formation. OLB Leroy Hill blitzes from the right end and is picked up by the fullback. Eli has a lovely little horseshoe of a pocket, and this inspires him to hurl the ball downfield, overthrowing Burress to the right. Hubris on Eli’s part? Perhaps. Perhaps he has been reading what a great deep ball he has.

3rd and 8

15:00/2nd

NYG 25/24 yds

Yes –
Hill

Shotgun – Single back right. Hill blitzes from the right side with a three-man line. Manning has time and throws a nice pass to Burress in a zone seam between Trufant and Marquand Manuel. Toomer takes a shorter route and gets Trufant to bite for a split second. The first notable work from Eli’s arm, and it takes a full quarter and about a ten-second grace period in the pocket for it to happen. Another jump ball here. Get used to it, Seattle !

2nd and 8

13:46/2nd

 

SEA 49/4 yds

No

Offset I. No blitz. Manning with a quick outlet left to Toomer. No YAC, with Trufant right on the tackle.

3rd and 4

13:08/2nd

SEA 45/INC

No

Shotgun, two backs. Blitz look pre-snap by Herndon (left) Tatupu (center) and Lewis (right), but all into coverage at the snap. Shockey runs a cross from right slot, and Herndon has him all the way. Darby runs a nice stunt with Wistrom which allows him to get in Manning’s face and force the early release. Manning almost hits the umpire with the ball, and if Hill had turned his head, he would have had an easy pick. A throwaway in traffic is not a sign of the Chosen One…

2nd and 19

10:27/2nd

 

NYG 25/12 yds

No

Offset I – man coverage. Shockey in motion from right to left. Manning has time and gets the ball to Shockey over the middle on a seam in front of Lewis and Hill. Good position by Shockey.

3rd and 12

9:20/2nd

NYG 32/INC

No

Shotgun, two backs. Wistrom bulls past Petigout and gets pressure as Manning throws an awkward lob in the area of Toomer, who is blanketed by Trufant. Trufant makes a great play and disrupts a catch Toomer wasn’t really in position for. To the announcers, of course, this is a sign of the confidence that Manning has in his receivers. That’s one way of looking at it…another way would be that Manning was “expecting” Toomer to make a Willie Mays over-the-shoulder catch with a cornerback all over him. Or maybe he was just hoisting a prayer in the air.

2nd and 7

7:46/2nd

NYG 46/INC

Yes - Manuel

I-formation. Shockey motions to the slot from wide right. Marquand Manuel (Or, as Rich Eisen refers to him, “Manuel Marquand”) flies past Petigout and Barber from the right with a great safety blitz, which causes Manning to throw both early and low to Burress at the Seattle 40. Just an aside from someone who follows the Seahawks very closely - Manuel has not received nearly enough credit for his ability to replace the injured Ken Hamlin this season. Plays like this (and another one soon) tell the story.

3rd and 7

7:42/2nd

NYG 46/INC/PI

Yes – Tatupu

Shotgun, single back left. Tatupu blitzes between RG and RT and gets picked up. Kevin Bentley gives a blitz look into coverage from the weak side – looks like he had a free lane there. Wistrom almost gets through on a neat stunt, but Manning gets the ball off to Burress, who is interfered with by Trufant at the Seattle 42. Manning actually overthrows Burress on a comeback pattern, but the hold is pretty graphic.

1st and 10

7:36/2nd

SEA 42/14 yds

No

I-formation, Shockey in motion from left to right. Manning rolls right and hits Shockey with a little swing pass at the LOS. Shockey bulls his way for the YAC. Shockey gets slighted from the crew here, who are too busy gushing over Eli hitting his receiver in stride on a little dump pass. Shockey chips Bryce Fisher at the line, gets free to make the catch, and shows impressive determination downfield in picking up extra yardage. This is reminiscent of something I’ve seen before in Yankee games – Derek Jeter will walk or hit a nubber to get on first, the guy behind Jeter will hit a home run, and the announcers will talk about nothing but how brilliant Jeter was in getting on base. Gee – it’s almost like he knew the homer was coming!

2nd and 25

5:49/2nd

SEA 43/13 yds

No

Two plays after Manning just loses the ball escaping the rush of Craig Terrill, and one play after Petigout gets dinged for his third false start penalty of the game, Manning takes the snap in an offset I and throws a 3-yard swing pass to fullback Jim Finn. Finn has an unobstructed 10-yard sashay, as Dyson and Boulware play deep.

3rd and 12

5:05/2nd

SEA 30/9 yds

Yes – Tatupu/
Babineaux

Shotgun, single back right. Tatupu comes with the blitz at the snap and gets picked up by Petigout. Babineaux drives on a delayed blitz on the strong side, but Manning gets the throw away to Burress underneath the zone, in front of Trufant and Herndon. At this point, Seattle ’s bend-but-don’t-break” defense effectively counters the Giants and their propensity for shooting themselves in the collective foot with penalties.

1st and 10

3:16/2nd

NYG 21/20 yds

No

Manning runs a very savvy series of moves at the snap – he goes play action left to Barber and then rolls out right, away from the pressure, pump fakes to Shockey (which pulls Herndon off Toomer for a second) and hits Toomer with a sweet sideline pattern 20 yards downfield. On this play, Manning the Younger finally does everything right. That play was predicated on his sequence, and he comes up trumps.

2nd and 3

2:28/2nd

NYG 48/INC

No

Seattle ’s corners, who had played tight man coverage very predominantly throughout the first half, start to play a few yards off. Offset I, and Manning (who has time here) throws a complete dog of a swing pass to the right flat, short and low in front of fullback Jim Finn.

3rd and 3

2:24

NYG 48/10 yds

No

Shotgun, single back left. Under pressure from Darby, Manning gets the ball out to Shockey, who is ten yards upfield, hanging out in that seam. To add insult to injury, Wistrom is called offsides on the play.

1st and 10

2:03/2nd

SEA 42/8 yds

No

Shotgun, single back right. Seattle ’s corners playing off again, and Manning hits Toomer for an 8-yarder between Tatupu and Herndon. Seattle ’s defense not so much bending as doing the freakin’ limbo at this point, allowing easy seams for Manning to manipulate. This is something I’ve seen enough of as an observer of Seahawks football over the last few years to discount, to a certain extent, any successful pass plays in this soft zone. Put simply: If Manning completes undernreath routes when that’s what the defense is conceding, I’m not as likely to go gaga over that…

1st and 10

1:33/2nd

SEA 31/24 yds

Yes – Tatupu/ Bab-ineaux

…and, of course, right after I write THAT, Manning makes as pretty a throw as you will ever see. Shotgun, single back left. Babineaux (right DT) and Tatupu (left DT) with the blitz, but the line holds containment long enough for Manning to zing a PERFECT ball 24 yards downfield to Shockey between Trufant and Boulware. He had about a foot of clearance with which to work, and he nailed it. Give an assist here to Barber, who blew Babineaux up with a backfield block.

1st and 7

1:23/2nd

SEA 7/INC

No

Single back motion to empty backfield. Manning, unable to find an open man in the end zone, simply throws it away. There appears to be some confusion between Manning and Burress on this play.

2nd and 7

1:18/2nd

SEA 7/INC

No

Single back offset left. Manning gets extreme pressure from Fisher and throws a right slant to Tim Carter, who is completely blanketed by Dyson and Herndon. Manning was telegraphing this one all the way. Baaaaaaad news.

3rd and 7

1:14/2nd

SEA 7/7 yds - TD

No

Single back offset left. Manning fires it to Shockey in the middle of the end zone, and Shockey gets demolished by Manuel, losing possession of the ball before his second (left) foot touches the ground. This, of course, is the infamous “touchdown” which the NFL later admitted should have been ruled an incomplete pass. My favorite aspect of this play from a broadcasting standpoint is Dick Stockton’s IMMEDIATE assertion that Shockey had possession before he lost the ball. Dick don’t need no stinkin’ replay! Enough has been said here, I s’pose…but let’s give props to Manuel here for a hit that Hamlin would be proud of.

2nd and 5

14:24/3rd

NYG 36/6 yds

Yes – Lewis/ Tatupu

Offset I – Lewis and Tatupu blitz, and Manning counters with a quick dump in the right flat to Finn for the first down. A good “game manager” play.

2nd and 12

13:16/3rd

NYG 40/7 yds

No

Offset I – Manning goes play action and hits Tiki Barber with a quick throw to the seam. My favorite part of this play is right after Barber catches the ball and Tatupu, Lewis and Hill are all converging – Shockey is standing two yards to the left of Barber doing absolutely NOTHING. At the last minute, he appears to shake out of his trance as if to say, “Block? Oh, yeah…BLOCK! THAT’S what I’m supposed to do!”

3rd and 5

12:30/3rd

NYG 47/INC

Yes – Hill

Single back offset left. Manning drops back and is almost immediately set upon by Wistrom, who just abuses Petigout on this play. Manning shifts out of the pressure and heaves a pop fly downfield to Barber at the SEA 28. Tatupu has Barber pretty much all the way (nice downfield coverage for a MLB) and bats the ball away with excellent timing. Eli, this is what happens when you throw a goatball to a receiver who doesn’t have a height advantage.

2nd and 9

10:35/3rd

SEA 25/INC

No

Offset I. Manning runs play action and doesn’t see Wistrom blowing past Petigout again. Wistrom knocks the ball out of Manning’s hand from the back side as he’s moving his arm forward, and the mystery of the Luke Petigout False Start Festival becomes a bit clearer.

3rd and 9

10:29/3rd

SEA 25/INC

No

Shotgun, single back left. Darby blows past the RG on a neat little twist stunt with Rocky Bernard and gets in Manning’s face. Manning overthrows Shockey over the middle. Burress is open a few yards to Shockey’s right, and three yards before the first down with space to run. Manning doesn’t appear to read his options here.

1st and 10

8:50/3rd

NYG 21/INC

Yes - Lewis

I formation. Seattle playing tighter coverage through the third quarter after getting a bit loose at the end of the half. Manning runs a play action left and rolls right. Hill and Tatupu bite on the play action, and Lewis bags on the blitz from left end to follow the play action, but Fisher isn’t fooled for a minute. Fisher pursues Manning to the right, and Manning throws OB to a well-covered Toomer (Dyson). Fisher is called for holding on this play. Manning shows ability with the play action, but once again, he balks under pressure.

2nd and 3

7:30/3rd

SEA 47/11 yds

No

Single back motion left to empty backfield. Manning throws a little 3-yard slant right to Shockey, who eludes Hill at the line to get open. Shockey does the rest of the work here, and this is as good a time as any to mention how impressively Shockey is playing.

1st and 10

6:55/3rd

SEA 36/INT

No

This is Chuck Darby’s play of the day. Darby just bulls his way out of a C/LG double-team and pursues Manning straight up the middle. Manning responds by throwing another airball downfield…into the waiting arms of Michael Boulware…with no Giants receiver within five yards. There should be a way to give Darby half of this INT, or some sort of official statistical mention.

2nd and 8

3:58/3rd

NYG 32/INC

Yes – Lewis/

Tatupu

Offset I. Lewis blitzes from left end but gets picked up by Finn. Tatupu comes on a delayed blitz but gets picked up by RT McKenzie. Manning has time – his line does a great job here – but he throws the ball over the head of an open Amani Toomer, and Dyson mistimes his jump and drops the INT. No excuse for that particular fleeber.

3rd and 13

3:52/3rd

NYG 27/20 yds

No

Single back. Crowd is going nuts, and you can see that the Giants are having trouble communicating. Fisher gets around McKenzie to force Manning to step up in the pocket. Wistrom bears down in front of him. Manning picks up Burress on a cross in a seam in the zone. Looks like either Dyson might have blown the coverage or Babineaux was late with the handoff (hard to tell from the angle), but that’s an impressive throw to hit Burress in stride with no pocket.

1st and 15

2:46/3rd

NYG 42/INC

No

Single back. False start penalties are popping up like crazy now. Manning throws the ball to the right, between Toomer and Burress, and in the general area of four Seahawks. Throws like this make me wonder which Eli Manning the media is talking about. Looks like Burress is running a cross from wide right, and Manning just lets it fly early. Once again, if anything impedes the timing of the routes his receivers run, Manning doesn’t seem to adjust even when he has enough time to do so.

2nd and 15

2:43/3rd

NYG 42/0 yds

No

Single back offset left. Manning throws a dinky screen left to Barber, and the Seahawks sniff it out right away. Rocky Bernard loops to the left and sacks Manning on the next play.

1st and 10

14:53/4th

NYG 15/6 yds

No

Offset I. Manning runs play action and underthrows a short left pass to Toomer. Toomer reaches down to get it with Tatupu covering. Actually a good throw by Manning here, where Toomer can catch it in coverage. This is followed by Tony Siragusa’s nonsensical babbling re: Peyton & Eli competing as kids.

1st and 20

13:22/4th

NYG 18/22 yds

No

Offset I. Manning, with time in the pocket, gets off a nice throw to Burress over the middle, 22 yards downfield. Burress is behind Dyson and in front of Manuel. Manning’s not throwing pretty passes today (I haven’t seen a tight spiral yet), but this wobbler is right on the mark. Siragusa calls Eli “Peyton”, but in his case, it was an unintentional mistake.

2nd and 7

12:02/4th

NYG 43/5 yds

No

Offset I. Manning with a quick swing pass left to Barber, who stiff-arms Trufant and picks up a few extra yards. I’ve said it before…Barber is that most rare of beings. An underrated New York athlete! Seattle ’s corners begin to play a bit looser at the line, and the underneath is left open for the quick pass.

3rd and 2

11:32/4th

NYG 48/ INC

No

Offset I. Play action to Barber, who gets a nice block on the quickly–pursuing Fisher. I’m starting to think that Fisher has Manning’s cadence down, because he’s just FLYING off the snap, though he gets knowked to the ground here. Fisher recovers his footing and pursues Manning to the right. Tatupu brings up the chase in front of the QB…and Manning throws a 7-yard dinker to Shockey in triple coverage. Of course, the announcers tell us that this is the fault of the receivers. Why, then, is it solely the brilliance of Manning when he throws 2 yards to a receiver and said receiver picks up 20 after the catch?

1st and 10

4:26/4th

NYG 39/6 yds

No

Shotgun, single back left. Seattle ’s corners playing off the line now. Based on what they’ve seen, what on earth are they “afraid” of? New York ’s O-line contains the front four, which allows Barber a forward release for the quick catch in the seam.

2nd and 4

4:00/4th

NYG 45/17 yds

No

Shotgun, single back left. Manning, with time, hits Shockey (who has beaten Hill again) 8 yards downfield. Shockey, as is his wont, does the rest. Now comes the goopfest…”Eli is SO composed in these situations!” Again, guys…it’s easier to be composed in a shotgun formation with no blitz and a huge underneath seam in a zone to throw to with the defense playing deep. Let’s just keep that in mind, okay?

1st and 10

2:46/4th

SEA 25/INC

Yes – Hill/ Tatupu

Shotgun, single back right. John Marshall breaks out of the vanilla and sends Hill left end and Tatupu from middle to left end. Eli forces a 5-yard dink left side to Burress and Babineaux does a great job of jumping the route and breaking up the catch. .

2nd and 10

2:42/4th

SEA 25/INC

No

Shotgun, single back right. Tatupu and Hill give blitz looks, but back off at the snap. Rodney Bailey (playing DT here) does a great job of busting through a quick double team and getting an arm on Manning, who throws the ball away. DE Joe Tafoya helps by engaging the left guard on a loop inside as Bailey breaks away. Outstanding work which shows the depth of Seattle ’s line. Manning is then praised for throwing the ball in the vicinity of a receiver. Gulp.

3rd and 10

2:37/4th

SEA 25/13 yds

Yes - Hill

Shotgun, single back left. Hill blitzes from right end, but is taken out by Barber. Seattle runs a zone blitz which results in Fisher covering Shockey ten yards downfield. While Fisher acquits himself fairly well (Shockey has to climb the ladder and make a determined play), I am reminded of the old “Sports Night” joke questioning the usefulness of any play in which a defensive lineman runs 40 yards.

1st and 16

2:03/4th

SEA 18/18 yds - TD

No

Shotgun – single back right. Hill gives a blitz look at right end but drops back. Manning throws a high duck to Toomer to the right at the back of the end zone, over Manuel. Toomer does an unbelievable job of coming back, catching the ball and dragging both feet in as his own momentum is driving him out of bounds. The final verdict? That’s two TD passes for Manning – one wasn’t legit, and the other was all about the receiver. Sometimes, stats don’t tell the story. On the 2-point conversion, Manning hits Shockey in the end zone on a trips right formation to tie the game.

1st and 10

1:23/4th

50 yd line/INC

No

Shotgun, single back left. Manning looks to hit Barber with a swing pass to the left, but Wistrom bats it down at the line.

2nd and 10

1:19/4th

50 yd line/8 yds

No

Shotgun, Single back left. Tatupu with a blitz look, and backs off into coverage. Manning hits Shockey with a quick pass underneath, in front of Tatupu. Seattle is running the “RETREAT!!!” defense to perfection at this point. With the exception of Tatupu, there isn’t a Seattle defender within 10 yards of the LOS when Shockey makes that catch, and Hill was backpedaling so fast, I thought his butt might be on fire.

3rd and 2

0:55/4th

SEA 42/11 yds

No

Single back. Manning hits Burress (who beats Trufant) on an inside slant left to the 32-yard line. Barber runs down to the Seattle 25 on the next play, setting up a field goal which Jay Feely misses to send the game into overtime.

2nd and 13

13:08/OT

NYG 46/INC

No

Shotgun, single back right. The pocket breaks down, and Manning rushes forward. He then tries to hit Barber with a little swing pass to the right, but it’s way over Barber’s head, and a bit behind him. Boy, that was ugly.

3rd and 13

13:03/OT

NYG 46/23 yds

No

Shotgun, single back right. Manning has time and throws his second-best pass of the day to Burress, who cuts inside in a seam. Trufant had Burress at the line, diverted him inside, and looked like he was handing him off, but Burress got a free release. Not sure who blew that one, but it was nasty.

1st and 15

11:59/OT

SEA 36/INC

No

I formation. Shockey gives Hill a Michael Irvin Honorary Pushoff seven yards downfield and heads right. This is originally called a catch/fumble/recovery which gives the Giants the ball at the Seattle 20, but Mike Holmgren called time out, which gives the replay official enough time to wake up and decide that the pass is incomplete and therefore reviewable. While the play is being reviewed, Daryl Johnston heads into a soliloquy about Eli which rivals Tim McCarver’s greatest love letters to Derek Jeter. Side note here: If Holmgren has to call a timeout just so the replay official will do his damned JOB, why doesn’t he get that timeout back? Maybe he can think about that while he’s not talking to Mike Pereira for the next two weeks. Holmgren’s savvy will be the difference between a 53-yard and a 37-yard FG attempt for Feely.

3rd and 15

10:51/OT

SEA 36/INC

Yes – Hill/ Tatupu

Shotgun, single back right. Seattle brings a 3-man base rush with Hill and Tatupu off the edges. Manning is hurried and throws a right slant in front of Burress, which is defended by Dyson. Nice job by Holmgren and the Seattle defense. On the next play, Feely’s second miss is short.

1st and 10

7:16/OT

SEA 31/INC

No

I-formation. Barber gets off a long run to put the Giants in optimal position to win it. Manning runs play action left and rolls right. Neither Fisher or Craig Terrill are fooled, and they both pursue Manning to the right. Manning responds by throwing the ball a good eight feet over Burress’ head. Burress was in front of Dyson, and could have easily caught a decently-thrown ball.

3rd and 6

6:13/OT

SEA 27/INC

Yes - Hill

Shotgun, single back right. Hill brings pressure from the left edge, and Manning throws a quick out to Burress to the left side. Burress is covered nicely by Trufant – this would have been a tough play. Feely misses his third field goal of the game on the next play (a 45-yarder) and Seattle wins the game on the next drive with a Josh Brown 36-yard field goal with 2:49 remaining in overtime.



Conclusion: After spending two days charting this four-hour game, I came away with come very distinct impressions about Manning the Younger. First of all, anyone who compares him favorably with his brother at this point either works for the Giants’ PR office, or should be tested for illicit substances. Peyton is a genius offensive coordinator who also happens to be playing his position at the very highest level. Eli is very much a work in progress, and there isn’t enough conclusive evidence that he’s going to be a superstar that you can just assume it. With Ben Roethlisberger, I had that feeling very early on. With Manning, I don’t.

His timing seems very inflexible – he doesn’t appear to be able to go on instinct and improvise in the face of adversity, and he seems to be operating exclusively on a very rigid “1-2-3-throw” internal clock. He can’t seem to handle anything else at this point. He wavers seriously under any manner of pressure, and makes very questionable decisions. He apparently told the FOX crew that he prefers when the defense blitzes, but he was 5 of 15 for 76 yards when Seattle blitzed in this game (passer rating – 51.0).

His stats at the end of either half could very well be clouded by a sea change in the structure of the opposing coverage and pressure. He looks for underneath routes when they’re given – that hardly makes him God’s gift to quarterbacking. In overtime, when his team really needed him and Seattle was bringing more pressure, he was 1 of 6 for 23 yards.

For the record, he was 2 of 4 for 31 yards and a TD in the last two minutes of the first half, and 2 of 3 for 19 yards in the last two minutes of the second (the Toomer TD came on a play which began with 2:03 left in regulation).

Of his 53 pass attempts in this game, I counted a handful in which Manning really made the difference. I cannot agree with the current opinion of Bill Simmons and many others – Eli Manning is not a quarterback who defines his team.

In fact, at this point, Manning hurts his team as much or more than he helps it. You have to wonder what sort of shape the Giants would be in if they had a Brad Johnson-style game manager with their receivers, tight end, and running back. Based on this game and his season numbers, I’d rate Manning as the fourth most important production player in the Giants’ offense, behind Shockey, Barber and Burress in that order. In addition, Amani Toomer was the real catalyst behind the only actual, legitimate TD pass thrown by Manning in this game.

My abiding positive impression of the Giants after reviewing this game is of Shockey, and the incredible value he brings to that offense. You can’t cover him with a cornerback, because you leave Burress or Toomer too open. You can’t cover him with a linebacker, because he’ll just beat the guy over and over (as Leroy Hill, a fast and talented rookie linebacker, discovered). You can’t bring in an extra DB for him, because Barber will rip you apart. The Seahawks kept beating him up, and he kept making plays.

When you look at Manning’s weapons, there is a nearly indisputable argument that he should be more productive than he is. That doesn’t mean that he’s a horrible quarterback, per se…what it DOES mean is that he’s really not discernibly better or worse than your garden-variety second-year quarterback.

If you want to see a real second-year revelation, go look up Ben Roethlisberger. Manning simply doesn’t live up to the hype.

Not yet.

In Part Two of “MythBusters: Eli’s Comin’???”, we’ll take a closer look at that hype, and do a little weeping for objective journalism.


Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail him at doug@seahawks.net.

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