Editor's note: It has become increasingly harder to live in the NY metropolitan area as a few of our writers have apparently declared open season on the two New York quarterbacks. The fact that I am a devoted Jets fan and Giants supporter as well, so long as the Jets and Giants paths do not cross, makes it worse.
Last week Jayson Braddock annihilated Mark Sanchez and now Hank Koebler piles on with the bashing of Eli Manning, the Giants Super Bowl MVP. My point? I justed edit the stuff and put it up. Giants fans, please direct your hate mail and family insults on this one to Hank and not to me! My mother doesn’t even like football and it’s downright mean to threaten the lives of my gold fish! As for you Redskins and Cowboy fans… Enjoy.
* * * Promo * * *LISTEN to NFL Writer, Hank Koebler, and NFL Scout, Jayson Braddock, along with NFL & CFL Hall of Famer, Warren Moon, tonight, Thursday, June 2nd at 11:30 pm ET on the ‘NFL Redzone Report’.
NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players” list prompted massive discussion among fans and media after revealing Eli Manning was not on the list.
NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan came to Manning’s defense, pointing out that Manning has a lifetime 0.57 winning percentage in the postseason, and a 0.58 winning percentage in the regular season. Kirwan also lauded Manning’s Super Bowl MVP and showed how Manning exceeded the statistical performance of several quarterbacks on the list.
A Super Bowl MVP doesn’t validate Manning’s abilities. The Super Bowl MVP award means the media members in charge of voting have decided the player most responsible for the outcome of the game. Therefore, citing Manning’s Super Bowl MVP as evidence of his skills is akin to saying that Manning is good simply because other people think he is good. That is not an adequate measurement for judging a quarterback at all. Instead, both statistical analysis and film study have to be applied to determine a quarterback’s skill level.
Because football is a team sport with so many variables based on the rest of the team’s performance, a team’s win-loss record does not reflect the performance of any individual player. To gain a better understanding of Manning’s impact, Manning’s individual statistics must be examined. In terms of making positive plays, at first glance he appears to have a legitimate case for inclusion in the Top 100:
He posted a higher completion percentage than half of the 12 quarterbacks who were on the list of top 100 players, more yards per attempt than five of them and threw more touchdowns than nine of them. Only Tom Brady had a higher frequency of pass attempts that resulted in touchdowns.
1 in 14
1 in 20
1 in 20
1 in 19
1 in 34
1 in 17
1 in 21
1 in 18
1 in 23
1 in 17
1 in 19
1 in 20
1 in 17
*TD frequency = Touchdowns/Passing Attempts, rounded to nearest whole number
Although Manning generated plenty of positive plays, his inability to avoid negative plays is why 12 other quarterbacks were on the Top 100 list and Manning wasn’t. Manning had a lower touchdown-to-interception ratio than 11 of the 12 quarterbacks who appeared on the Top 100 list, and he threw interceptions more frequently than any of them.
1 in 123
1 in 30
1 in 49
1 in 79
1 in 31
1 in 22
1 in 40
1 in 42
1 in 78
1 in 43
1 in 30
1 in 63
1 in 62
When it comes to avoiding negative plays, Manning is nowhere near the level of any of the other quarterbacks on the list. The only quarterback with a lower touchdown to interception ratio than Manning was Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb, who had the worst season of his career playing behind a patchwork offensive line, without any other skill position players who would be able to earn a starting position on a playoff team. Despite having such an abysmal season, McNabb still managed to throw interceptions with a lower frequency that Manning. These statistics suggest that Manning is nowhere near becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
In terms of reducing negative plays, Eli Manning isn’t even the best quarterback in New York. Although Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has been absolutely subpar in most aspects of the game, he still protected the football better than Manning did, throwing an interception only once every 43 pass attempts. Manning’s interception frequency in 2010 was actually lower than legendary NFL bust Jamarcus Russell’s worst season: Manning’s frequency before being rounded was one in 21.56, and Russell’s was 22.36 before rounding.
Not only do Manning’s statistics work against him, but his game film shows him playing at a lower level than any of the quarterbacks. Manning consistently fails to plant his feet solidly in the pocket when he throws. The most mechanically sound quarterbacks in the league all plant with their back foot, and when they release the ball, their weight and center of gravity shift forward onto their front foot a little bit. Instead of planting his weight evenly throughout his feet, he leans forward and puts too much weight on the front end of his feet, causing him to “push” the ball with his arm instead of letting it fly naturally. Occasionally, one or both heels will even be a little bit above the ground as Manning is trying to plant.
Additionally, Manning dips his left shoulder low during his follow-through after releasing the ball. Between the poor planting of his feet and the sloppy follow-through, Manning’s mechanics cause him to oftentimes throw the ball with a wobbly spiral and low velocity. The wobbly spiral hinders his accuracy, and the lack of velocity gives defenders more time to get to the ball, which contributes to his high frequency of interceptions. It also explains why Manning’s performance drops drastically in the wind, which is a major disadvantage for a quarterback who plays in New York.
Even on Manning’s highlight-reel plays, many of his mechanical flaws are still evident
In addition to his mechanical flaws, Manning doesn’t appear to have a natural feel for the mental aspects of the game either. First and foremost, Manning has developed the habit of staring down his receivers, which is another huge factor in his high frequency of interceptions. Another aspect where Manning struggles is his tendency to throw the ball away too quickly instead of sometimes taking a necessary sack. This leads to turnovers when Manning gets rid of the ball without determining whether the intended receiver is open. Also, his pocket instincts are well below average. He lacks the natural feel for when to step up and avoid pressure, and he tends to drop back entirely too far after taking the snap. When faced with pressure, he often continues to retreat backwards. Although he has enough speed to scramble and turn broken plays into at least small gains, his ability to do so is often negated because he’s so far behind the line of scrimmage that he can’t get positive yardage.
In all fairness to Manning, his coaching staff isn’t using him to the best of his abilities either. Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride forces Manning into the role of a traditional dropback passer even though Manning displays a clear lack of comfort and instinct within the pocket.
The play-action bootleg at 0:11 protects Manning from the pass rush, freezes the defense and gives Manning the option of either running or passing
Although Manning certainly has plenty of room for improvement, at the end of the day the buck has to stop at the coaching staff. The Giants cannot afford for their young, explosive offense to be held back by the quarterback position anymore. For the Giants to make the playoffs in the consistently tight NFC East, Manning is going to have to improve drastically and the coaching staff is going to have to do a better job of maximizing Manning’s strengths and hiding his weaknesses. If the Giants cannot do this and end up missing the playoffs again at the end of the 2011 season, it might be time for the Giants to look for a new coaching staff, a new quarterback or both.
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Hank Koebler is an NFL Writer and On-Air Personality. Hank's work as a journalist has been widely published and he's received numerous citations for his NFL coverage. You may email Hank @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @HankKoebler