Sports Outside the Beltway

Eli Manning Better Than You Think?

Rick Gosselin argues that Eli Manning is a whole lot better than most fans think.

Eli just doesn’t stack up with Peyton.

At least not the 2007 Peyton.

But let me take you back to Peyton’s first three seasons. He won only 21 of his first 39 career starts with 50 interceptions and an 0-1 record in the playoffs. Eli has won 20 of his first 39 starts with 44 interceptions to go with his 0-2 playoff record.

“I hope it doesn’t take Eli six years to win his first playoff game like it took me,” Peyton said.

Heh. But, by this point in his third season, Peyton was a superstar playing on a team with an awful defense. Eli shows flashes of brilliance and then has huge mental breakdowns.

Goose breaks down some stats, noting that only three QBs led his team to more wins over the last two seasons:

Quarterback Team Starts Wins
Peyton Manning Indianapolis 32 26
Tom Brady New England 32 22
Matt Hasselbeck Seattle 28 20
Drew Brees San Diego/New Orleans 32 19
Eli Manning NY Giants 32 19
Carson Palmer Cincinnati 32 19
Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh 27 18

Eli’s TD pass numbers compare favorably, too:

Quarterback Team TDs ’06 ’05
Carson Palmer Cincinnati 60 28 32
Peyton Manning Indianapolis 59 31 28
Tom Brady New England 50 24 26
Drew Brees New Orleans/San Diego 50 26 24
Eli Manning NY Giants 48 24 24
Matt Hasselbeck Seattle 42 18 24
Jake Delhomme Carolina 41 17 24

Are our perceptions of these two QBs that far off? Or are those statistics telling a lie?

Certainly, “wins” is an even more over-rated stat for a QB than for a starting pitcher in baseball. A defense can win a lot of games for you if the quarterback is even halfway decent. Just ask Rex Grossman.

Touchdown passes can be a misleading stat if a team is playing from behind a lot or lacks a running game. Neither of those things were true of the Giants, though.

There’s no reason to declare Eli a bust at this point, by any means, but he’s not yet an elite quarterback. Any GM in that game would likely take Phillip Rivers, for whom he was traded in a very lopsided deal, over him. Some might even take Tony Romo.

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