In 2013, New York Giants fans witnessed something that had not emerged in nearly a decade. The Giants posted a below five-hundred winning percentage to wrap up their 2013 season. It was something that veteran quarterback, Eli Manning, was not accustom to over his ten year span in the NFL. Not only did the Giants have one of the worst seasons in franchise history, but Manning himself – had his worst season of his illustrious NFL career.
You can’t blame Manning for the overall results of the 2004 season. He was a rookie. Manning would only start seven games his rookie season. The results came with his worst NFL season performance of his career and he didn’t even play the entire season (the only time in his career). The very next season, Manning received his first full season at starting quarterback and sent the Giants to the postseason for the first time since 2002. So what if was a shutout loss to the Carolina Panthers, they made it to the postseason, didn’t they?.
Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl Champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP, and three-time Pro Bowler. His performance in 2011 is still looked at in ah. I mean come on, nearly five thousand passing yards, that is insane, and that was just in the regular season. The postseason resulted in the best of his career. A Super Bowl win, 1,219 total passing yards, 9 touchdowns, 1 interception, and quarterback rating 103.3 in the postseason put Eli Manning on top of the NFL mountain. It was a better performance than any of the postseason performances of old brother and future NFL Hall-of-Famer, Peyton Manning. Yes, it was. Peyton’s one Super Bowl win came from a postseason where Manning posted a 3:7 (TD:INT) ratio. So yeah, you can’t argue with that.
But, what is not up for debate is that the 2013 season was the worst of Eli Manning’s career. Manning finished the regular season with 3,818 passing yards, 18 touchdown passes (the worst of his career), and threw a career-high 27 interceptions. That last stat alone is enough to make you hurl. That season was so bad that when older brother Peyton was heading for the greatest season of his career, but fell short in the Super Bowl, some of us actually thought it was Eli disguised as him in the game against the Seattle Seahawks. How else could you explain a 5,477 passing yard (an NFL record) and a 55 touchdown (another NFL record) regular season and then wrap that up with one the worst performances in NFL Super Bowl history?
You can’t. It had to be Eli playing in that game.
How can Eli improve in 2014?
After the 2014 NFL Draft, Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN graded the Giants draft a “B”. The first player the Giants went after was
someone Eli could throw to at wide receiver, someone “good” Eli could throw to at wide receiver. The Giants picked up one of the best receivers in the SEC, former LSU Tiger Odell Beckham Jr., and selected him as the 12th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. Beckham finished his 2013 season at LSU with 1,152 receiving yards (ranked 4th in the SEC) and 8 touchdowns. His talent and amazing ability to cause mismatches down field maybe something Manning has not seen since Victor Cruz broke onto the scene in the 2011 season.
The next player the Giants went after was someone “good” that could protect Eli Manning. In the 2nd round and with the 43rd overall pick, the Giants selected Colorado State center Weston Richburg. Richburg was a four-year collegiate starter. What makes Richburg so special is that he can adapt to any position on the offensive line. I mean if you’re coming from Colorado State, he may have even had to run the ball a few times. He has to be good, right? Richburg will be a valuable asset to the Giants offensive line wherever they choose to play him.
The Giants would go out to get more talent on defense to keep Manning off the field longer. But, we will continue with the new offensive talent that could make Manning more successful in the upcoming season. In the fourth round and 113th overall pick, the Giants selected the 2013 ACC leading rusher and Heisman Trophy Finalist, Andre Williams. Williams is a powerful-stout running back, who has amazing agility and explosiveness. He adds to the Giants’ running back roster that is already injury-prone. Williams could see some serious playing time in upcoming season and help Manning get back to where he needs to be.
Now we look at who is already been on the Giants current roster. In recently developing news, Giants’ running back David Wilson, has been cleared to start full-contact practices, after suffering a season ending neck injury last year. Giants fans will be tickled to death hearing this recent news. They know what Wilson can do. This is a guy who in his rookie season, set the New York Giants team record for all-purpose yards in a single game when he accumulated 327 all-purpose yards in a win over the New Orleans Saints. With Wilson to full-health, Eli and the Giants could get back to that contending status.
Next, we need to see more salsa dances by Victor Cruz in the endzone. We were only able to witness that four times in 2013, and I don’t think you can even really consider that dancing. Cruz finished his 2013 season with 73 receptions for 998 total receiving yards, and only four touchdowns, which was more than half less than the previous season.
In the end, it all comes down to Eli Manning. Manning can have all the guns around him, but he is the one who pulls the trigger. He is the leader of the Giants’ offense. Only Eli Manning can control less interceptions and a more stable approach when looking for that touchdown pass. Better decision-making will determine the success of Eli Manning in the 2014 season.