Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and future Hall of Famer, but the Giants need to formulate a succession plan right quick or risk wasting the prime of superstar wideout Odell Beckham Jr.
Manning (18 of 35, 199 yards, 1 touchdown) was once again dreadful on Sunday night against the Packers in a 23-16 loss, his entire evening perfectly encapsulated by back-to-back plays late in the first half.
First, he overthrew a wide open Will Tye on a potential touchdown pass down the seam, a catch Tye might have made if he were an athletic tight end like Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. Then, on the ensuing play, Manning fumbled and the Packers recovered, setting them up for a late field goal to take a 17-6 lead into the half.
For their part, the Giants had to settle for field goals three times. Two interceptions by cornerback Janoris Jenkins were wasted because Manning and the offense couldn’t put the ball in the end zone. Granted, the offensive line –- particularly left tackle Ereck “Flagged Again” Flowers –- wasn't terrific in protecting Manning, who was sacked four times. And the running game was basically non-existent with Orleans Darkwa (7 carries for 11 yards) and Bobby Rainey (5 carries for 22 yards).
But Manning was indecisive and inaccurate all night, his lone touchdown coming late in the fourth quarter when Beckham saved him at the back of the end zone with a balletic toe tap.
Few wide receivers in the NFL could have come up with that play, underscoring Beckham’s importance to a team that is taking on water –- a three-game losing streak that leaves them two games behind the Cowboys in the NFC East.
Was Manning the only person at fault for the Giants’ woes against Green Bay? Not by a long shot. The defensive line ran into a superior Packers’ offensive line and got no pass rush all night. According to Pro Football Focus, Aaron Rodgers had the longest average time to throw of any quarterback in the league this week, at 3.28 seconds.
It’s amazing Rodgers (23 of 45, 259 yards) didn’t throw for more yards and deep passes given his ability to sit in a lawn chair and smoke Cubans as the Giants’ pass rush floundered around him. Meanwhile, the Giants’ secondary played pretty brilliantly given its responsibility of maintaining coverage for that long.
New York’s running game remains awful. And Beckham still makes it all about him, celebrating his late touchdown –- with the team still losing –- by hugging and kissing a kicking net, making light of last week’s tantrum when he punched one of the net’s relatives.
But a lot of this has to land at the feet of Manning. He’s now ranked 31st among NFL quarterbacks (47.5) according to PFF -– coming in behind basically everyone not named Ryan Fitzpatrick (42.2).
Manning’s streakiness has always been part of his makeup. But against a Packers’ secondary that was missing Sam Shields, he was 0 for 5 on pass attempts of 20-plus yards. He needs to get better if the Giants are going to salvage the 2016 season.
Regardless of how he plays down the stretch, general manager Jerry Reese needs to focus on finding Manning’s successor –- either via the draft or via trade. Ryan Nassib doesn’t look to be the answer. And despite the Giants’ best efforts to get Beckham involved anyway the team can –- he got knocked out of bounds on an attempted end-around pass -– it’s probably best if he’s not the team’s quarterback of the future.