A more accurate Eli makes Giants playoff hopefuls
Posted: Tuesday October 16, 2007 12:56PM; Updated: Tuesday October 16, 2007 1:13PM
Eli Manning's completion percentages in his four years as a part-timer, then full-time quarterback, for the Giants:
If Eli Manning were a money-market fund, we'd all be rushing to buy. Instead, he's an NFL quarterback, and we're all rushing to get on the kid's bandwagon.
Watching Manning on Monday night resulted in a great lesson in quarterback patience. I was down on him toward the end of last year, because I thought he was too often mechanically unsound, too inaccurate, and threw to holes many times that weren't big enough. Nice player, I thought, but if he didn't ratchet up his play significantly in 2007, there'd be calls by the media and fans for his head, along with Tom Coughlin's.
But Manning did something about it. One of the things I've appreciated about Manning is he doesn't try to be his brother. In Peyton's shadow, many players would wilt. But all Eli has done as a Giant is seek ways to get better.
That continued last offseason with new quarterback coach Chris Palmer. Visitors to New York Giants training camp got a kick out of watching Palmer's new drill. He'd set up a portable net with different-colored dots downfield. He'd make Manning and other quarterbacks take pass-drops, then Palmer would call out "Green'' and Eli would then throw the ball -- either from the pocket or on the run -- trying to hit the green dot on the net. Hokey? Yes. Effective? Yes.
Watching Manning this year, I'd say the two phases he's improved are accuracy, and accuracy on the move. You saw him make a perfect throw Monday night when he rolled right and hit a diving Amani Toomer on the white out-of-bounds strip at the Atlanta 1. And you saw him roll right again and hit Plaxico Burress deep.
Like his brother, Eli is a better athlete than most people think. He's showing it, evading the rush and staying alive long enough to make good throws. It helps to have Toomer healthy after his ACL surgery, because now the Giants have everything a passing quarterback needs: a possession wideout in Toomer, a deep threat with great hands in Burress, and a blocking/receiving tight end in Jeremy Shockey, who I thought blocked superbly away from the ball in the rout of Atlanta.
I applaud Coughlin for sticking with Manning and giving him some tough love over the last couple of years. Manning's a fairly egoless quarterback who takes coaching very well for a man with his passing pedigree and lineage. And I applaud Manning for concentrating on what's important and tuning out all the fluff in the media and fan world.
He's not all the way there yet with his accuracy. The Giants want him to complete 62 percent or so; in his six games this year, his game-by-game percentage numbers are a bit shy (68.3, 55.2, 58.3, 53.8, 52.0 69.2), but at least he hasn't had a clunker.
If Manning keeps improving, and the Giants stay reasonably healthy, they should be a playoff team.
Now onto your e-mail:
DON'T CHANGE THE TIMEOUT RULE. From Bruce Benoit of Boston: "Enough with the complaining about the timeouts to ice a kicker. What's the big deal? It falls within the framework of the game. Each team has the chance to call timeout before the ball is snapped on any play of the game. You don't complain about a coach calling a time out right before the snap when his defense is not lined up properly for what the coach knows is coming. So he calls timeout to avoid a big play from happening. It's just like in baseball, when a hitter asks for time, sometimes the pitcher follows through and pitches the baseball. He just has to make another pitch.''
We'll agree to disagree, Bruce. I think the game looked stupid three times in the first five weeks of the season when, on the final play of the game, the kick is on its way, one team jumps up and down and celebrates, and then everyone has to look around, not only for a penalty flag, but also for the side judge running in signaling for a timeout.
All that has to happen is for the defensive team, on a field-goal try, to be banned from taking a timeout after the five-second mark on the play clock. Simple. If you don't know whether you have the right number of players on the field by the time there's five seconds left on the play clock, there's something very much wrong with the team's organizational skills.