Monday Morning Manning: Week 2

by Steve Ekenstierna  @stevie_oneduhh

For those of you who are new to Monday Morning Manning…hold on because we are about to break down Number 10, the franchise, 2 times Super Bowl champion and MVP Eli Manning. We will review Manning’s play in this past week’s game against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football.

Another game for the Giants, another absolute dumpster fire. Top to bottom failure from Head Coach Ben McAdoo, the offensive line’s continued ineptitude, to even the vaunted Giant defense giving up running yards in ways we haven’t seen since 2015 and not getting off the field on 3rd downs, but the focus of this article is the performance of Eli manning.

Let’s break it down to the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. The good; Eli manning wasn’t killed by the Detroit defense despite the offensive lines best efforts to allow them the opportunity, and we did see the few times Eli got any time in the pocket he was generally accurate and made some very good throws like the one over the top to Engram for and 18-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. Unfortunately, this was not the case for the majority of the time, as many of Manning’s throws were often dropped as he got absolutely no help from the likes of Marshall, Engram, Shephard and Beckham all playing a part in making a bad night much worse.

The bad and the ugly could be used to describe the play of the 2017 giants as a whole, but in the case of Manning the bad came in the form of a devastating turnover. The giants Defense had just created a turnover around mid-field, setting up the offense with great field position. The first play of the drive he throws behind Engram who tipped it up, it then tipped off another defender and was picked off. Detroit would take full advantage scoring quickly on a pass from a scrambling Matthew Stafford to Marvin Jones Jr, a series of events even the most pessimistic Giant fan couldn’t imagine.

Another distinctly ugly moment in the game happened with the Giants on their opponent’s goal line. After trying unsuccessfully 3 times to break through and get into the end zone, McAdoo (influenced heavily by fan reaction in my opinion) decided very early in the game, down just 17-7, to go for it on 4th down. The decision took too much time to make and as Eli approached the line and read the defense to decipher what the Lions might be trying to do defensively to decide if he needed to check out of the original play and into another, the play clock hit zero without Manning being anywhere close to calling for the snap or a timeout. He was rushed by the late decision to go for it and probably caught off-guard by the choice to do so.

The fact that remains is that Eli has been a pro for nearly 15 years. The play clock by now is something that’s programmed in his head when he is fully focused and on top of that, the actual play clock is literally right in-front of him. On the wall of each end zone on either side of the field there is a very large board that displays the play clock, big enough that the guy drinking beers in the 400 level can read it, let alone a veteran QB who’s standing approximately 50 feet from it and facing directly at it as he approached the line for what would have been a fourth down play at the goal line, a play that, if they hadn’t gotten the delay of game, would have meant the difference between being down 3 or staying down by the ten points they were trailing already.

Yes, it was probably a blessing in disguise because attempting a field goal was the decision that should have been made to begin with, but it is a worrying sight to see Eli allow that to happen. Even when his physical tools let him down, we as fans have always felt incredibly confident about his mental acumen, knowledge of the game, and overall awareness of everything happening on the field. You almost hope he did it on purpose because he, like many others, believed the prudent move was to kick the field goal and make it a one score game especially considering how early on in the game it occurred. I just don’t believe the thought would ever even cross his mind to take matters into his own hands and in essence overrule his head coaches call. The takeaway from this series of events cannot be taken lightly. If Eli is not absolutely focused on every single play and providing the advantage he has in being such a student of the game and always having control of the situation on the field, pre and post snap, the Giants and their fans are in for a disastrous season.

Eli does not have the benefit this year of a running game you can count on to carry the load, or to carry for more than 2 yards a carry to be honest, when he’s having an off game. The offense as a whole cannot function if Eli isn’t at least on top of his game mentally even when he’s not performing at a top-level physically. These first two games have shown us that Eli will not consistently have time in the pocket which means he must take full advantage of those few times he does. To accomplish that he must first depend on that football knowledge and focus we have come to take for granted with Eli. Going through progressions and reading the defense, then finishing it with the physical side of playing the position by making the throw. If the mental side of things are not up to the standards we are accustomed to with Eli, you now have another major issue offensively, and a huge issue presently and for the future of this team overall. There are simply far too many issues with this offense for it to be able to take on Eli playing anything but his absolute best mentally and physically, the former of which has rarely, if ever, presented itself as a problem throughout his entire career.

The fan in me is tremendously worried about the issues on the mental side of Eli Manning’s performance. Things seem to be moving too fast for him mentally. Yes the players surrounding him are letting him down far too often but never before have we seen Eli not be able to settle himself mentally over the course of a possession, let alone an entire game.

I continue to have faith that he will settle himself mentally because it’s what he’s done his entire career but I am, for the first time, worried that it may not happen. Maybe this offensive line has been so bad that his feel for the rhythm and timing of the game has been thrown off badly enough that he doesn’t have the confidence that would allow him to get back to optimal play mentally. On tap for the Giants this week is a Eagles team that boasts a formidable defensive line which would like nothing more than to hand the giants their third straight loss to start the season and their second loss in the division.