What is behind New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s recent struggles?
Manning’s numbers the last three games are far from what they were in the early part of the season when the Giants were rolling.
Manning says he doesn’t have a tired arm, but there are some indicators that indicate that as a reasonable question to ask.
Let’s take a closer look.
Manning Throws Of 10+ Yards
Manning went 4-for-11 for 52 yards and an intereception on throws longer than 10 yards down the field on Sunday.
That’s continued a trend in which his numbers have sharply declined on throws of that nature.
The chart on the right shows the rather drastic difference.
In that span, Manning is 2-for-11 targeting Victor Cruz on those 10-plus yard passes for 44 yards and no touchdowns in the last three games. In the first seven games, Cruz caught 13 of the 22 throws on which he was targeted for 335 yards and three touchdowns.
Manning’s average pass traveled only 7.4 yards downfield, his lowest average throwing distance this season.
Manning has now gone three straight games without throwing a touchdown pass. The only other time he’s previously done that was in the third, fourth, and fifth games in his career, during the 2004 season.
Manning has really struggled to move the chains in his last three games, completing just 12-of-29 passes with 2 interceptions on third down.
He has also been sacked three times on third down in the last three games, after being sacked just once in the first seven games.
Manning was sacked four times in Sunday’s loss, matching the total number of times he’d been sacked in the three previous games combined. The Giants had not allowed four sacks in a game since Week 1 against the Washington Redskins last season.
He entered the day sacked at a lower rate than any other quarterback, averaging one sack ever 41 dropbacks (11 dropbacks better than the next-best quarterback—his brother, Peyton Manning, once every 30 dropbacks).
That one may be a credit to the Bengals defense, which entered Sunday averaging a sack every 13 dropbacks, the second-best in the NFL.
This is only the second time in the last five seasons that Manning has had consecutive games with a Total QBR below 20. It also happened in Weeks 15 and 16 last season.
Manning bounced back from that poor stretch to win his second Super Bowl. He’ll have a week off to ponder how best to bounce back this time.