Welcome to Bad Quarterback Performance Of The Week, a recurring feature in which we celebrate the worst quarterback play the NFL has to offer.
People have always had a lot of opinions about Eli Manning. Those who think he sucks can point to those three 20-plus interception seasons and make a pretty good case. Those who think he is good can point to the two Super Bowl victories and make an equally compelling argument. An accurate assessment of Eli Manning probably ends up somewhere right in between, in mediocrity’s upper-middle class.
But there was always some sizzle to that mediocrity. Even in his worst seasons, Manning was a compelling figure in the NFL because of his all-or-nothing style of play. Manning’s droopy-dog demeanor suggests a kid who’s put out because he woke up too late for Saturday morning cartoons, but his on-field work has always been stupendously ballsy. That manifests itself in good ways as often as bad ones, but both results could be entertaining in their own way.
Manning’s having a perfectly mediocre statistical season so far, with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions through seven games. Things are going to get much worse now that he’s left with a receiving corps made up of anonymous nobodies, and Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks was a good indication of what’s still in store for Manning and the Giants. He completed just 18 of his 39 pass attempts for 134 yards and one touchdown. Worse than the paltry numbers and the 24-7 loss is the fact that Manning went about losing the game in such boring fashion. Those lame numbers somehow don’t capture how lame it all was.
There were not hilariously ill-advised balls thrown into triple coverage, and there certainly weren’t any deep touchdown passes at the end of desperate scrambles. There was just Eli Manning, 37 years old and without any talent around him, stumbling around in the mud.
Manning spent the game throwing short, hopeless passes into the flats and over the middle, hoping for ... I don’t know what exactly. It was depressing to watch, particularly because the game was right there for the taking. The Giants led 7-3 into the third quarter, and if Odell Beckham Jr. had been on the field it’s easy to imagine the two connecting on a deep touchdown pass or two that might have put the game away. Instead, Eli was stuck doing shit like this:
There is no cool or dynamic way to zip a pass at a running back’s upper thigh from four feet away, really, but man did Eli look old as hell while doing all this. Here he is trying to execute a naked bootleg to buy his receivers time and abruptly discovering how hard it is to execute a naked bootleg when you are no longer a young man:
If someone wanted to be rude and not all that charitable, that person could point out that Manning looked a bit rattled throughout the game. It’s hard to blame him, given the paucity of functional receivers around him, but there were a few moments when his feet took up a nervous shuffle and he seemed to be bracing for inevitable doom:
And then there was the play that really turned the game. Down 10-7 in the fourth quarter, Manning dropped back from his own 41 and had pressure right in his face. He got strip-sacked, and the Seahawks put the game away with an ensuing touchdown. Would you like to see what true helplessness looks like?
The Giants are 1-6.