The vastly underrated Eli Manning
The Giants' playcaller draws plenty of criticism, but fans aren't looking close enough
- Rob Carr/Getty ImagesEli Manning has cut down on his turnovers this season for the New York Giants.
Across the back pages and radio dials in New York this week, Eli Manning ranks about ninth on the list of New York Giants heroes since Big Blue wrecked the Eagles on Sunday, someplace between rookie LB Jacquian Williams and Lawrence Taylor. (Although LT hasn't played in 18 years, he is on the top-10 list anytime anything good happens to the Giants.) But it's time to give credit where credit is due: With 254 yards on just 29 attempts, four touchdowns and no turnovers, Manning posted the third-best performance in the NFL last weekend (QBR of 81.2). And as surprising as it may seem, he continues to demonstrate value in ways that conventional statistics don't capture.
This season, 59.1 percent of NFL plays have been passes, up from 56.9 percent last year and 54.9 percent five years ago. And as passing continues to increase, there's a premium on what we call "ball discipline" -- avoiding sacks, fumbles and penalties. To see how each of these aspects of quarterback performance translates into value for teams, let's start with a specific comparison from last year: Eli versus Philip Rivers, the player he was traded for during the 2004 draft.
When Total QBR debuted, Manning's rating was a shocker. While he ranked just 17th in the NFL in passer rating in 2010, Eli had a QBR of 64.3, seventh-best in the league. Meanwhile, Rivers -- who threw for 708 more yards than Manning and had half as many interceptions led the NFL in yards per attempt and had a passer rating of 101.8 -- was just ninth in the league, with a QBR of 63.2.
But Manning's 2010 was better and Rivers' considerably worse than the raw numbers show. Rivers had a whopping 4,710 passing yards, but many of them came when the game was already decided. Last year, the Chargers outscored their opponents by an average of 20 points in their wins and won six games by three touchdowns or more, both by far the highest figures among all teams that won eight to 10 games.
In high-leverage situations (plays with clutch value above 1.0), Rivers was just slightly above average, with a QBR of 56, whereas his QBR was 80 in blowout conditions. Manning, on the other hand, was more efficient. QBR estimates that Manning's completions added 107.0 points to the Giants last year, or 2.67 points per 100 passing yards; Rivers' completions added 108.5 points, or 2.30 per 100 yards.
To read more about Eli Manning's true value -- plus why Michael Vick's running is huring the Ealges -- you must be an ESPN Insider.
We see that you are not an ESPN Insider. Upgrade today and gain access to our exclusive coverage.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Jets release Holmes, create more cap space
- Staying in the nest: Seahawks retain Bennett
- Sources: Panthers attempt to deal WR Smith
- Source: Steelers will release OLB Woodley
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
NFL WEEK 4 PREVIEW
WEEK 4 PICKS
HOT READ: Andrew Luck
HOT BUTTON: 0-3 teams
MNF: Colts at Buccaneers, 8:30 ET
- NFL Home
- AFC East
- Buffalo Bills
- Miami Dolphins
- NE Patriots
- New York Jets
- AFC West
- Denver Broncos
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Oakland Raiders
- San Diego Chargers
- AFC North
- Baltimore Ravens
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- AFC South
- Houston Texans
- Indianapolis Colts
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Tennessee Titans
- NFL Nation
- Free-Agent Tracker