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ELI for MVP?


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Celizic: Eli for MVP? It’s not as crazy as it sounds

Giants quarterback has kept his team in contention with little support

OPINION

By Mike Celizic

updated 11:16 p.m. PT, Sun., Dec . 20, 2009

There’s still a shot for the Giants to make the playoffs, and if they beat Washington, Carolina and Minnesota to do it, let me be the first to start the campaign.

 

Eli Manning for MVP.

 

Go ahead and say that suggesting Manning the Younger could be a more deserving MVP candidate than his big brother, grizzled old Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers or Donovan McNabb is like taking the rice cakes over the aged prime rib. I’ll understand, because when the idea was first suggested to me, I thought the same thing.

 

But if you look at what the Giants have to work with, you have to admit there’s merit to the idea. In a year in which the Giants’ defense has played worse in each succeeding week, Eli Manning has without any fanfare been putting together the best season of his six-year career. Despite a month-long losing streak, the 7-6 Giants still have a shot at the postseason, and it’s all because of Eli Manning.

 

I’m not suggesting he’s the best quarterback in the league. Even I’m not that foolish. But we’re talking most valuable here, not best. And the reality is that the only way the Giants are getting into the playoffs is if Eli puts them on his shoulders and drags them there.

 

I’m not going to say that automatically makes him more valuable than Favre, Brees, Rivers, McNabb, Brady and Peyton have been to their teams. But it sure puts him in the discussion. The guy is that good.

 

Before you guffaw at that, picture him in a Dallas uniform for the past six years. If you don’t think the Cowboys would have won some playoff games, you’re not being honest.

 

Eli isn’t leading the league in anything, but he’s among the leaders in most categories. With 23 touchdown passes, he’s one behind his career high, and he has thrown just 11 interceptions. His yards per attempt are at a career high of 8, 1.2 yards better than he’s ever done before. His 60.4 completion percentage is also a career high, as is his 93.0 quarterback rating.

 

Quarterback ratings are probably the most abused and least telling stat ever concocted by the numbers wonks. If you go strictly by ratings, Aaron Rodgers is the fourth-best quarterback in the league and Matt Schaub is the seventh-best, ahead of Tony Romo, Brady, McNabb, Eli and Kurt Warner.

 

In Eli’s case, the rating is only an indication of the improvement he’s shown. His previous best number was last year’s 86.4, and to jump to 93.0 is a considerable increase. It reflects his improved completion percentage and his higher yardage per attempt.

 

Before the season started, the Giants laid a $97.5-million contract extension on Eli. With his 2009 salary, it gave him a seven-year package worth $106.9 million. That’s more than his big brother is making. When he signed it, it was more than anybody was making.

 

In New York, eyebrows were raised higher than the Empire State Building at that contract. If he was going to get that kind of money, shouldn’t he at least be the best quarterback in the league?

 

But that’s the wrong question. Better is to ask how valuable he is to the Giants. The numbers the team threw at him show that the Giants believe he’s the one player they cannot live without. They say he’s the best quarterback the Giants have ever had.

 

With all due respect to Charlie Conerly, the Giants called it right. This kid has already won them a Super Bowl. He could yet get them into the playoffs this year.

 

He’ll never be viewed as being as good as Peyton. But there shouldn’t be any more shame to that than there is to being judged not quite as good an artist as Michelangelo or not as incisive a thinker as Stephen Hawking.

 

Even so, Eli won 47 of his first 80 games while Peyton won 42 of his first 80. Also, Eli is 4-3 lifetime in the playoffs while Peyton is 7-8. Each has one ring.

 

But all four of Eli’s postseason wins came in the team’s 2007 Super Bowl run. Other than that, he’s 0-3, which isn’t anything to brag about.

 

That record keeps him from getting the recognition his brother gets, and nothing will change the perception. The big stats are on Peyton’s side of the board, and they’re going to stay there. Eli may be destined to be the best Giants quarterback ever, but Peyton will be the NFL’s best ever.

 

Eli seems to understand that, and if there’s anyone who can handle playing second fiddle, it’s him. There seems to be no sibling rivalry with his big brother, no neurotic compulsion to somehow outshine the sun itself. If Peyton is Mozart, Eli’s no Solieri, brooding about seeing his own genius eclipsed.

 

This is part of what makes Eli so valuable. He’s comfortable in his own skin and worries only about the things he can control. If other quarterbacks get more acclaim, let them.

 

He’s also incredibly even-tempered. This is a good thing to be in New York, where the gentle attentions of the media can be overwhelming. As the quarterback of the city’s flagship franchise, Eli has taken his share of abuse. Even winning the Super Bowl two years ago hasn’t given him the lifetime exemption from second-guessing that other quarterbacks have gotten in other towns. At times this year, it’s been open season on him.

 

It’s probably not fair. For all the records Peyton Manning is likely to retire with, so far he has exactly as many rings as Eli — one. That’s also the same number that Brett Favre has after 19 years in the saddle. So as great as those two have been over the years, they haven’t brought home any more trophies than has Eli.

 

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

 

 

 

© 2009 NBC Sports.com Reprints

URL: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/34506406/ns/sports-nfl/

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Decent article but a bit of a stretch. The reason the Colts and Saints are where they are is because of their QBs who are also invaluable to them. And in that scenario - the record dictates. Eli is supremely valuable to this team, but stats and record unfortunately skew the MVP race.

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I think the author realizes he has no shot but by attaching the word MVP to the article he is trying to point out how Eli really has had a breakout season. And happens to be carrying this team right now.

 

If at the beginning of the season someone told you the defense would leak like a sieve, the running game would be doing nothing, and the reason this team is winning is because of Eli's arm you and I both would laugh that off. Before this season Eli was always viewed as more of a game manager than a game winner. Sure he was clutch late in the 4th but he didn't WIN the whole damn game. He's done that countless times this year.

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I think the author realizes he has no shot but by attaching the word MVP to the article he is trying to point out how Eli really has had a breakout season. And happens to be carrying this team right now.

 

If at the beginning of the season someone told you the defense would leak like a sieve, the running game would be doing nothing, and the reason this team is winning is because of Eli's arm you and I both would laugh that off. Before this season Eli was always viewed as more of a game manager than a game winner. Sure he was clutch late in the 4th but he didn't WIN the whole damn game. He's done that countless times this year.

 

 

I see your point regarding the defense and run game, but if you go back and read some posts from yours truly prior to this season I indicated that Eli actually had a breakout year LAST year in terms of efficiency. Interceptions were way down in 2008 as opposed to his previous years and his QB rating took a huge jump. This actually started during the playoff run of 2007 when Eli started to put it all together. I wrote before this season that I expected Eli to take a similar jump this year as he continues to refine his craft. I predicted that Eli would have his first 4000 yard season and he is very close right now to doing that. All this stuff about Eli being a big surprise is not a surprise to me. He is simply progressing the way a great quarterback does over his career. He is right now approaching his peak and should play at this level or even a little better for the next 8 or 9 years.

 

People often make the mistake of labeling a player too soon... Eli took his time making the jump that maybe a small percentage make a year or two sooner, but it takes time learning to become a great QB in the NFL.

 

Eli really starting putting it together in the playoff run of his 3rd full season (the Super Bowl season) and has now reached the point where he is one of the best QB's in the NFL. It's a credit to his hard work. Many fans and critics look at his rating and interceptions and some of the poor decision making he displayed in his first 3 seasons and wrongly assumed that was all he was ever going to be. Eli didn't get the benefit of sitting for a couple of seasons like Phillip Rivers, for example. He learned on the job, worked hard, and has parlayed that hard work into being the not only the unquestioned, unchallenged leader of this team, but also a great QB that we are going to enjoy for a long time.

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I don't care much for MVP.... Eli is having a great season. His throws this year are far different... hardly any wobble... he flicks his wrist and his accuracy is vastly improved.

His accuracy is down from last year IMO. He's missed about half a dozen sure TD passes, mainly around the time the foot was bothering him though.

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mvp of the team maybe, but the dog doesn't think that is saying much. The reality is, this team lacks heart and leadership, and he brings little to the table in that regard. he may be a better than average QB, but as far as being a guy the team can turn to to elevate their play when the chips are down, well that was answered today. people want to compare him to elway and say their careers mirror eachother...not at all. elway's teammates loved him as a person, but on the field said he was an a-hole that pushed them to win at all costs...not so with manning.

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His accuracy is down from last year IMO. He's missed about half a dozen sure TD passes, mainly around the time the foot was bothering him though.

he's had to change from throwing it "in the vicinity" of guys like plax and toomer to more timing patterns and pinpointed slant patterns where there is little margin for error. for him to do this much with those receivers is remarkable and this is by far his best year.

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