New York Giants: Eli Manning will put up career numbers in 2017

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Eli Manning
LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Eli Manning /

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning recorded less than stellar numbers last season, but could put up career best marks with his new weapons in 2017.

Eli Manning’s numbers from the 2016 season left a lot to be desired. Coming off two consecutive seasons with 30+ touchdowns and an average passer rating of 93, Manning’s drop in production was not an easy pill to swallow for New York Giants fans. It was a cause for concern even, worrying that the 2013 interception machine behind the line may be back. After looking at the bigger picture, though, it was clear to see that Manning was not the problem.

Sure, he made some bad throws here and there that left everyone scratching their heads. However, if his offensive line actually did its job and if he had more blocking help at the tight end position, Manning would have had much more time to make better choices.

As a quarterback in the NFL, age is becoming less relevant and Manning will prove that in the 2017 season. Just look at Tom Brady’s stats last year as a 39-year old: 28 touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 112.2. The two aren’t in the same class, but the Giants signal-caller is a healthy 36-year old with a nasty receiving corps, improved blocking and a dynamic tight end group.

Which is why Eli Manning will put up career numbers in 2017. He will surpass the 35 touchdowns he tossed in 2015 and, for the first time in his career, break a quarterback rating of 94.

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One of the Giants biggest issues last season (in addition to many others) was their lack of talented and trustworthy receivers. With the number of passes dropped, one would have thought they all churned butter before each game and polished off each batch by dipping their gloves in it. As the season progressed, it was clear that Manning needed another big playmaker to line up opposite of Odell Beckham Jr.

In comes Brandon Marshall.

Marshall is going to have a huge impact on the offense. He will serve as a large, dangerous target down the field for Manning, free Beckham of the double teams he often sees in coverage and open up more space across the field for studs like Sterling Shepherd and Evan Engram. Engram is not the only tight end who poses a threat either. There are a slew of well-qualified athletes competing for the position this summer, including Jerell Adams, who quickly became one of Manning’s favorite targets late last year.

Naturally, the more open receivers he has, the more passes he will be able to comfortably complete. Defenses will be forced to pay attention to what is going on downfield, rather than a flustered Manning searching for an open target before getting leveled. Granted, this won’t eliminate the possibility of an opposing blitz. However, it makes it less likely and easier to handle.

Plus, as mentioned earlier, Marshall’s size and reliability will cause defenses to abandon double coverage on Beckham, which in turn eases the burden on Manning. It’s not easy for a quarterback to constantly try to fit the ball into double coverage while rushing, due to his lack of protection.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 06: Ereck Flowers #74 of the New York Giants in action against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 6, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 06: Ereck Flowers #74 of the New York Giants in action against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 6, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

In 2016, “protection” appeared to be a foreign concept to the Giants offensive line. On almost every play, Manning found himself flustered and rushed into poor pass choices, quality of passes (as Giants fans cringed every time the ball wobbled in the air) and play-ending tosses into the ground in front of him.

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Based on the picture being painted this offseason, both Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart are aware of how much rides on both of their shoulders this year and supposedly have shown improvement. Of course, no fan will know how much truth there is to this until they line up against the Cowboys defensive line on Sept. 10. However, if this is true, this is great news for Manning.

An improved offensive line, plus the blocking ability of the tight ends will free up additional time for the signal-caller to see the field and get the throw off to an open man. The Giants run game will also be able to get going for the first time in years, further threatening defenses and taking more pressure off of Manning to singlehandedly carry the team on his shoulders.

More receiving targets on the field in addition to improved blocking up front is any quarterbacks dream. In the Giants’ case, these ideal conditions are playing out for a two-time Super Bowl champion. I guarantee his numbers will be new career best in this situation.

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This may be a bit optimistic, but look for Eli to have right around 38 touchdowns this year and close to 5,000 passing yards. You could almost increase the projected touchdown total, but the running game will get going again this year and do some serious damage on their end as well. And if that happens, anyone who’s projected the Giants as a .500 team in 2017 will look quite foolish.