Some raw Manning stats:
Games 1-15: 19 TD, 19 INT, passer rating 70
Games 16-18: 8 TD, 1 INT, passer rating 123
Also note that the last 3 weeks have been against the 4th, 2nd, and 9th rated NFL defenses. (fyi GB is the 11th ranked defense, the Giants are the 7th ranked defense.)
Manning has played in 59 games. In his first 56, he had TWO games this caliber. 2 out of 56. And now 3 excellent games in the past three starts. For ideas on what has happened to manifest this change, click on the link to an earlier post which discusses the Manning Pump Fake.
This is the story of why the Giants are here. Yes, there are 44 other guys that suit up each game, and football is a team sport. But Manning’s contribution as QB has been volatile, from game to game, from quarter to quarter! In the past three games all of that has gone out the window. We have seen Manning lead his team down the field to score TDs before, but perhaps not in the same game that he also threw 0 INTs as well. The games are getting more complete.
Those who have been regular readers of this blog know that we think the change came from playing against people like Ronde Barber. They jump routes and get INTs, and Manning led the league in INTs and knew he had to do something. The pump-fake changed it all. On the 52 yard TD to Amani Toomer in Q1 of Dallas, Manning calmly looked to the right side of the field before going to the left side and getting the ball to him. He was not doing that regularly the first 15 games. If Toomer was his first target, that means he was looking off one side of the field. I do not believe that that was the case, but if it was then it was helpful in giving Toomer adequate space. More likely he was simply going through his progressions and found his safety blanket… but going down the list of his options was not done well by Manning either, so this is improvement too. (Last year he would have hurriedly looked to dump the ball off to Barber.) All I know is that Toomer got the ball with space, so he was already moving with the ball when he broke the pivotal tackle attempt of Henry and went the distance. If Manning is locked on him the way he seemed to be games 1-15, I do not think the play has a result the way it does. The smallest things in football are the difference between a play that works and a play that doesn’t in the NFL. Fractions of a second. Manning is getting those fractions of a second right now and he needs to keep doing what he is doing. The best QBs (duh, Favre and Brady) do this ALL NIGHT LONG. They go through all of their progressions, they look off defenders, they pump-fake to get separation for their WRs, they telegraph as little as humanly possible.
Speaking of telegraphing, we have another safety to be wary of this weekend, Atari Bigby. He covered so much ground in the Seattle game that Daryl Johnston was almost lovestruck. The secret to his ‘success’ was a combination of good speed and playing centerfield with Hasselbeck’s eyes. He closed in on pass plays because he knew where the ball was going and was seemingly everywhere. If you want space between your receiver and Bigby, you better look him off SOME of the time or else he is going to lean on that tendency ALL of the time, just like Landry and Sharper have done to Eli in the past.
“He studied and he’s been able to utilize that to pull people out of position,” Tom Coughlin said with a chuckle before adding: “You’re seeing Tony Romo do the same thing if you look at tape.” Any QB who wants to survive in this league MUST do that or else their numbers and performance will suffer.
“The old Eli would have just fallen down and took the sack,” (Terence) Newman said. “But this guy is making smart decisions, dumping the ball off, keeping drives alive. He’s playing a lot better. We sure hope we can make him be the old Eli.” Sorry Terence Newman, you did not get old Eli. Let’s keep seeing the new Eli.