Any player who delivers two Championships to this city will be fondly remembered by his fan base, and deservedly so. Eli Manning has done just that. With his second Super Bowl victory, and Super Bowl MVP, in hand, most people, fans and media-types alike, were proclaiming that Manning was a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. I was one of those people. However, Eli’s performance these past 2 seasons have lead me to believe they, and I, spoke way too soon.
Over the past two seasons, Eli has seen his production dip from the previous year in touchdown passes, yardage, completion percentage and passer rating, while throwing more interceptions each year. That is not what is supposed to happen to quarterbacks who are 32 years old — at that age you are supposed to still be in the prime of your career, the time where your production should be at its very best.
This year, by any measurable statistic, Manning has been awful. He is on pace to throw less than 20 touchdowns for the first time since his rookie year, when he only started 7 games, while having already tied the franchise record for most interceptions in a season by throwing 25 this year. He has also had his passing yardage dip drastically since the 2011 championship campaign. In that year Eli threw for a career high 4,933 yards (the third consecutive time he threw for 4,000+ yards). In the two years since Manning has failed to reach 4,000 yards and this year he is not on pace eclipse that benchmark. At his current rate he is projected to total 3,897 passing yards, obviously a pair of big passing performances in these meaningless remaining games could put him over that mark. All of this adds up to an alarmingly bad 69.7 passer rating (I generally do not like the passer rating statistic, but a number that low is worth noting), that will be his lowest rating since his rookie year.
Then there is the most important statistic of them all: wins.
Manning will suffer his first losing season as the full time starting quarterback this year, coming off the heels of a season in which the Giants failed to reach the postseason.
All of this, to me, adds up to Eli Manning playing his way out of Canton. You can’t expect a player to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame when he’s having seasons like Eli’s past two in the prime of his career. They don’t sculpt bronze busts for guys with sub 70 passer ratings.
His career is far from over, and I wouldn’t dare say he won’t be enshrined one day, but he’s going to have to play much better in the coming years to earn his place amongst the legends of the NFL.
(all stats via pro-football-reference.com)