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Is Eli actually Elite?

Updated on January 16, 2015

Define Elite?

Well, if you Google the definition, you'll get something along the lines of "a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities."
But, let's be real.
The definition of the word as far as the NFL is concerned is a whole other beast.
People fight over what it means and who it applies to every single year.
Who can you consider an elite player?
Is it somebody who is consistently among the best players at their position?
Is it someone who has a random phenomenal season?
Everyone and anyone will argue the hell out of that point.
Especially with quarterbacks.
Over the last few years, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, and Joe Flacco have ALL been called "elite" by somebody.
Now, as times change, those change, people flip and flop, and new names are thrown into the ring.
But, at the end of the day, only three names have remained.
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers have all been pretty phenomenal for as long as they've been playing in the league.
There's no argument.
There hasn't been a conference championship without at least one of those guys since the 2008 season.
2008! President Obama hadn't even taken office yet!
We are in the second term of the Manning/Brady/Rodgers presidency!
Why no Eli?
I mean, he does have more Super Bowl wins than any of those guys over that span.
But let me tell you why he's not elite...

Why is Eli Elite?

Well I guess if I'm going to explain why Eli isn't elite, I'll have to explain why people argue that he is.
With his 39,755 yards and 259 touchdowns, Eli Manning holds every major passing record for the franchise, and ranks 15th and 13th all time.

Statistical achievements aside, it's no question why people like Eli Manning.
He's won two Super Bowls!
Two! That's more than the rest of his family combined!
Not only that, but in both Super Bowls, he beat Tom Brady!
If beating Tom Brady doesn't make you elite, I don't know what does.
Eli is unflappable in the pocket and wouldn't suffer a mood swing if he were sitting on one...
Wait, that didn't make sense... You get the idea.
A guy who doesn't choke under pressure?
A franchise QB who dominates in the clutch?
What else could you possibly want in a playoff QB?

Playoffs?... Playoffs?!

Yeah, he's a great playoff QB.
But let's talk about that for a second.
Eli's Giants only made the playoffs in half of his seasons, and never really because of him.
His statistics have been mostly pedestrian, going over 4,000 yards only four times, and over 30 TDs twice.
He's never been in MVP or offensive player of the year discussion, and often wasn't the sole reason for his team success.
In both Super Bowl seasons, the Giants were top five in defense, and in 2007, they were top three in rushing offense.
People often throw shade on Peyton Manning for losing so many playoff games, but not enough credit is given to him for getting his team (Be they Colts or Broncos) to the playoffs 13 freaking times.
Thirteen freaking times.
"Well Peyton has been one-and-done 9 times. 9 out of 13 isn't impressive"
Yeah, being one-and-done 3 of the 5 times isn't amazing either.
Eli has eight playoff wins since he was drafted, and Peyton Manning has eleven.
Eli has played in two super bowls, and Peyton has played in three.
"Well Peyton has been playing longer"
Correct. Peyton has had six years to build up quite a bit of resistance to Eli, so it's unfair to compare the two just yet... Except everyone does anyway so...
I'm serious.
I don't know how many times I've seen morons claim that Eli was the better Manning because of his playoff history.
It drives me nuts.
Oh, and stats.
Because he's set a couple of playoff records, after all!
He set the record for most passing yards in a postseason!
Man, in his two Super Bowl winning postseasons, he threw for 2,073 yards, 15 touchdowns, and only 2 interceptions! That's like 250 yards, 2 TDs, and less than a pick a game! That's phenomenal!
I mean, in the other 3 postseasons, where he made brief playoff cameos, he tossed for 443 yards, 2 TDs, and 5 interceptions, averaging out to 148 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs but... We don't talk about those, right?

In review-
Shut up about "Playoff Eli".
He isn't the sole reason the Giants have made the playoffs and he's far from the reason they've been successful.
His Giants have still been one-and-done in 60% of playoff appearances.
And for the love of god, stop acting like he beat Tom Brady.
In 2007, the Patriots didn't have "the best defense in NFL history", they had the best offense.
Credit Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan, and the broken focus of Asante Samuel for that win.
And in 2011? Just look up how bad the Pats defense was. I think they gave up somewhere around 400 yards per game...
The amazing Giants pass rush beat Tom Brady, Eli was just in the right place, at the right time.

What exactly does Eli do?

He's great under pressure or in clutch spots.
Got it.
Outside of that, what does he bring?

Is he agile, like Russell Wilson?
The film and a 4.9 forty time say no.

Does he have a cannon, like Joe Flacco?
The 74 interceptions over the last three years also say no, and while they're in, they say he's not a play-caller like Peyton is.

Does he fire his team up, like Tom Brady?
Just search Google images for Eli Manning and get back to me.

So what is it?
What exactly makes Eli a great QB?!
I mean, 2014 was one of Eli's best years statistically, but most of that consisted of feeding Odell Beckham Jr. the ball on every passing play, and the Giants weren't even relevant in the weak NFC East. They were 0-6 against every playoff team on their schedule, and they lost by an average of two whole touchdowns.

In conclusion.

I roasted Eli here.
I threw a bunch of numbers and opinions at you that would lead you to believe that I probably have a Tony Romo fathead at home. (I don't. Not Foles or RG3 either). And I bet every single Giants fan out there has already labeled me as some dumb hater who only wishes he had a QB like the incomparable Eli Manning.

So I wanted to take a minute to say that he's not a bad quarterback.
Yeah, a bit of a flip flop there.
No, he's not a bad quarterback.
He's just not great.
But you know what? I don't think the Giants ask him to be great.
They don't ask him to be his brother.
They don't ask him to be Tom Brady.
They don't ask him to put the team on his back, they just ask him to make the plays in the right spots.
And you know what? History shows he's pretty good at doing that.
Just ask Rodney Harrison.

Eli Manning may never be an elite QB or escape from his brother's shadow, but he's still the best damn QB the Giants have ever had, and is probably better than any they will for a very, very long time.


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    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Despite his two rings to Peyton's one, the idea that Eli is even in the same class as his brother is laughable. Peyton will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Does anyone project that for Eli? But I must say this: the rock-jawed Eli that appears in the photo looks like he could be the best field general of all time.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Despite his two rings to Peyton's one, the idea that Eli is even in the same class as his brother is laughable. But I must say this: the rock-jawed Eli that appears in your lead photo looks like he could be the best field general of all time.

    • mio cid profile image

      mio cid 

      3 years ago from Uruguay

      I agree wholeheartedly with your last paragraph ,Whether he is considered elite r not there will come a day we will tell our sons of the years when we had Eli Manning as the Quarterback for the New Jersey Giants.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      3 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Good analysis. As a Giants fan, I've never been a big Eli fan. I'm sure some analyst on ESPN (i.e. Jaws) would say I don't study enough film to see the "little things," but when someone says elite QB, does Eli come to mind in the first 10 seconds? Never. Is he better than half the league, probably. But that doesn't mean they can't do better. This year is not the time to think about change, but if a good draft class, maybe so. Voted up.

    • Ty Tayzlor profile image


      3 years ago from Anywhere

      He's a guy who has to have everything around him going right for him to be successful. That is not elite

    • Josh Ruga profile image

      Joshua Ruga 

      3 years ago from New Jersey

      I agree with you. Eli Manning has posted very mediocre career numbers in the regular season, and another player you mentioned in this piece is similar to him. Joe Flacco puts up very underwhelming numbers in the regular season, but when his back is against the wall he seems to come through. Competitors who deliver as underdogs, are fun to watch, but they lack consistency.


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