Eli Manning proves that NFL teams can win with a league average quarterback.

The New York football Giants finished with a 6-10 record in the weak NFC East in 2015 and have not reached the playoffs since 2011. What, did you expect Eli Manning to lead them there? After all, he has been merely a league-average quarterback throughout his entire regular season career despite having his best statistical season in 2015.

This is kind of my point here, though, that you can have a great season by an individual and still not succeed as a team. The Giants’ defense was atrocious last season, allowing over 6500 yards from scrimmage. Sure, Eli and the O-line held their own last season, but this is not a team that can rely on Eli to get them over the hump, even if he was slightly above-average for the season.

I know, I know. Eli Manning could punch me in the face, even if that is Justin Tuck’s job, and it would leave two Super Bowl ring impressions on my forehead. Good for him. Eli Manning has had great teams surrounding him and, more importantly, great offensive lines that have protected him from making even more mistakes and, likely from being a below league-average quarterback. I said it!

Eli Manning has led the NFL interceptions thrown three times, each time throwing at least 20. He has totaled 199 interceptions thrown in his career and he has fumbled 98 additional times, and he has had one of the best offensive lines in the game throughout his career, posting a sack rate that has been 12% than the league-average for his career.

Eli Manning apologists are likely yelling at me through their computer screens saying “he throws picks because he has to throw so many times, moron!” While Eli Manning does throw the ball a lot, it’s not just his raw interception total that is alarming, it’s his interception percentage which is 5% worse than the league average for his career!

It’s not the just Eli Manning’s ability to throw the ball to the other team that proves he is a merely a league-average quarterback but it’s the fact that he has a hard time getting the ball into his receiver’s hands. Eli Manning owns a career 59.3% completion percentage, which, at first glance, looks decent. Heck, it’s better than some Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks. But, we have to remember, this is a different game. That 59.3% completion percentage during Eli Manning’s tenure in the NFL is 6% worse than the league average! And Eli Manning owns a career quarterback rating that is 1% below the league average.

The only statistic that keeps me from labeling Eli Manning as a truly below-average quarterback is his touchdown percentage which is 6% above the league average for his career. Yes, some of his risk-taking does produce positive outcomes. Just do a YouTube search of “David Tyree catchor “Odell Beckham Jr.to see proof of it. Take a look at Eli Manning vs the League Average during his career:

Eli vs His Peers

There is one more bright spot for Eli Manning but it might actually support that his supporting cast has been the star of the team, not him. Eli Manning has been sacked 12% less than the league average since he has been in the NFL. In fact, 2013 was the only year in his career he has been sacked more than the league average and you see what his numbers were like that year, right?

Here are his year-by-year stats using “+” stats that compare numbers to the league average (100 is league average and every figure above and below is the percentage above and below league average the stat is):

Year

Cmp%+

TD%+

Int%+

Sack%+

Rate+

63

88

76

103

68

77

103

102

112

93

91

107

95

112

95

84

104

88

108

89

2008*

97

103

113

105

104

105

115

103

103

112

107

117

77

125

102

2011*

101

107

102

114

111

2012*

97

106

99

125

102

84

87

60

98

77

103

106

104

115

105

2015*

99

113

103

115

106

Career

94

106

94

112

99

The proof is in the numbers. Eli Manning is merely a league-average quarterback and I might not argue if you were to say he was slightly below that. Hey, being league-average is nothing to sneeze at. After all, it’s the best league in the world and, with a good run game, o-line, and good defense, a league-average quarterback can sport two Super Bowl rings.

The Giants are not dumb. They know the formula. It is why they spent a kabillion dollars to bring in Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harrison, and Keenan Robinson rather than throwing more money at “weapons” for the offense.

A good defense that shortens the field for your offense goes a long way. Just ask the 2015 Carolina Panthers and any team that faced the New York Giants during Eli Manning’s career.

With an improved defense, a great o-line, the addition of Sterling Shepard, a league-average quarterback, and a weak NFC East, the Giants have a legitimate shot at a playoff birth for the first time since 2011.

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