I've never liked Eli Manning. Didn't like him in college, when the hype about how he might be even better than his brother was both stupid and relentless. Didn't like him when he got drafted and pulled that Mr. Big Shot move to get to New York.
Didn't like his early years in the NFL, when the New York media machine tried to make him seem like something other than the mediocre quarterback he was.
And I certainly didn't like how -- after his team won a Super Bowl -- he was granted access into that Club of Great Quarterbacks Who Win Big Games by lazy fans and media observers who like easy characterizations and simplistic storylines.
On the other hand, Mike Vick financed a dog-fighting ring (among other transgressions) and we seem to be pretty cool these days, so maybe it's time to re-think this whole Eli thing.
Thinking ... thinking ...... thiiiiiiiinking ...
Yeah, no, still don't like him.
My biggest problem with Eli is that I just don't think he's very good. I've been sitting here tonight thinking about how we're going to try to stop the Giants' offense this weekend and literally at no point has the thought occurred to me, "Ok, so what do we do about Manning." (This just a couple weeks after all anyone could talk about was, "How the heck are we going to stop Manning?!?")
No, it's all about how we're going to keep Nicks from going off and if we can manage to keep him under wraps while also committing enough guys to stopping the run game with Bradshaw and Jacobs. And how exactly will we handle a team that can pretty consistently get a guard up on Bradley and a big fullback teeing off on Sims?
Just for kicks, I tried to see if there was any support for my belief that the Giants offense frequently seems to function well in spite of Eli's deficiencies, rather than because of his skills. There's nothing scientific about this, but numbers are still stronger than words.
The following table mixes both traditional stats and Football Outsiders' proprietary metrics. I went back three years to find the 10 best offenses over that time period (averaging the ranks) and then did the same thing with the QB DVOAs. A team offense with a high value in the final column has been over-performing relative to its QB play. A team with a low or negative value has been under-performing.
So, the first question: What's a high value? Who knows. This is just a made-up, BS stat. All I know is that the Giants have the biggest spread, meaning (theoretically) they're the top ten offense whose performance has most drastically exceeded the contributions by its starting quarterback.
Second question: Does this table look like it makes sense otherwise? I think it does. It would be interesting to re-run the numbers at the end of the season, because the reason the Saints and Texans have such relatively large spreads is because both Brees and Schaub are having sub-par DVOA years. That may not be a trend we should expect to continue.
On the other end of the scale, I don't think I'd fight the proposition that Peyton, Rivers and Brady have all been carrying their teams.
So yeah, Eli pretty much still sucks. Can't argue with science.