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Was Trading for Eli Manning Worth It to the Giants?

Eli Manning/Philip Rivers (Image from nj.com)

Winning a Super Bowl MVP award, being selected to play in the Pro Bowl, and ranking fifth for most consecutive starts by an NFL quarterback in the history of the league may seem like impressive credentials, but yet, Eli Manning has faced adversity in his career, with many analysts and writers questioning whether or not he should ever have been made a member of the New York Giants.

Many dare to claim that the quarterback Manning was traded for, Philip Rivers, on draft day 2004, is a better quarterback. Many articles and analysts state the Giants would be better off with Rivers, rather than Manning, and although some make interesting points alluding to Rivers’ qualifications, the Giants are without a doubt, better off with their decision to draft Manning.  Manning has been painted as the poster child for overrated NFL players, however, in this writer’s opinion, those doubting Manning’s abilities could not be more misled.

The Case For Manning

Let’s start with some simple facts. Although Rivers does have a better overall career record (55-25, including playoffs) than Manning (64-46, including playoffs), Manning does have a better playoff record (4-3 vs. 3-4). Rivers has the advantage of being supported by a more talented cast than Manning has had. The proof is in the amount of Pro Bowl selections each have had surrounding them in their careers. Since 2006, when Rivers became a full-time starter, Rivers’ teammates have 50% more Pro Bowl selections than Manning’s teammates (24-16); and this includes those Pro-Bowlers during the 2007 season when the Giants won the Super Bowl. Manning had one teammate make the Pro Bowl that year. Yes, one. That player, Osi Umenyiora, was not a starter on the Pro Bowl team…he was a reserve.

By contrast, how many players did Rivers have surrounding him to make the Pro Bowl that year? The answer is nine. Rivers had nine Pro Bowl players on his team in 2007, and did less with them than Manning did with his one Pro Bowl reserve player. Considering that there are only eleven players allowed on the field at any given time, having nine Pro Bowl players on one team seems to be quite impressive. Taking this into consideration, Manning was able to be far more successful, once again highlighting the quality of the Giants’ acquisition.

2007 Playoffs

By coincidence, 2007 was the year that both quarterbacks went furthest into the playoffs in their careers. In the final game of the year for each, both against the New England Patriots, the quarterbacks had very differing statistics. In the AFC championship game against the Patriots, Rivers had zero touchdowns. Yes, in the biggest game of Rivers’ career, he was not able to get his team into the end zone. Not even once. He did however throw two interceptions to Patriot defenders. Critics may point out that Ladainian Tomlinson was injured for most of the game and had only two carries. The Chargers had Michael Turner play for him instead. Michael Turner maybe was the better option for that game anyway. The next year, Turner went to the Falcons and ran for 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns. Tomlinson’s next year had him running for only 1,110 yards and 11 touchdowns. Both running backs were healthy and played in all their respective teams’ games in ’08, so Turner was arguably the better option.

Manning’s final game in 2007 was also the biggest game of his career. What did he do in this important game? All he did was win the Super Bowl and was named the game’s MVP. Manning did not get much help from his running backs, who were unable to amass 100 total yards rushing for the game or score a touchdown, whereas Rivers’ running backs in the AFC Title game were able to rush for over a hundred yards in support of Rivers. As a result, the offensive production was cast upon Manning’s shoulders. The Giants overcame the previously undefeated New England Patriots in a game in which they were heavily regarded as the underdogs. If this does not show Manning can play well under pressure, what will?

Clutch-ness

And now for a final thought on this subject. Manning has the fourth best ‘come from behind wins’ percentage of any active player in their respective careers. That is, when a player enters the game with the ball in the 4th quarter down by eight points or less how many times does he bring his team back to victory. Manning does this almost 50% of the time. That is even a higher percentage than his brother, Peyton Manning. And, by the way, it is also higher than Rivers, who brings his team back to victory when down by eight points or less in the fourth quarter and the ball in his hands barely 35% of the time.

The Verdict

In closing, Manning is scheduled to make less money this year than some very notable quarterbacks who have never won a Super Bowl, including Rivers, Tony Romo, Carson Palmer and Michael Vick. It appears that Manning’s current contract is actually a bargain and not a ‘rip off’ as some critics say. Manning’s career is one of quiet confidence, where he leads his team to victory, oftentimes carrying the offensive production solely on his shoulders. It is believed that those who are criticized are considered to be the best in their field, and in this case, Manning is no exception. The Giants option to trade for Manning and support his career has proven to be beneficial to the entire organization, and although we cannot go back in time to examine what may have been if Rivers was a member of Big Blue, this writer firmly believes that based on both of their careers, Manning has proven himself time and again to be a fantastic asset, superior in countless ways to Rivers.

About Saltzy

Stats:Age: 34 Sex: Male Favorite sports: Baseball, Football, Basketball Favorite Players: Jose Reyes, Eli Manning, Amare' Other hobbies: Poker, Fantasy Sports Title: Contributor Contact: saltz@sportsofnewyork.com I am a New York native who grew up watching the Mets, Giants and Knicks. I was too young to fully appreciate the championships the Mets won in 1986 and the Giants won in 1990, but was fully appreciative of the Giants 2007 Super Bowl win. I count 2-3-08 as one of the best days of my life. I moved to Boston with a few coworkers of mine that I hardly knew and took a big chance of moving to a city I barely knew anything about. I got along well with my roommates and my new city and decided to make it my permanent home, despite having difficulties following my favorite teams, due to living so far away from New York. I am extremely passionate about sports and will discuss the Giants Super Bowl win over the Patriots anytime, anyplace and with anybody. I am a social worker in the day and sports writer by night. I enjoy slaving over my laptop writing about sports. My ultimate dream would be to become a professional Texas Hold'em player. If you have any questions, or you want to privately comment on any of my posts, please feel free to email me: saltz@sportsofnewyork.com.

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