Eli Manning was running for his life for the entirety of the Giants vs Eagles matchup Thursday night, but that did not stop Giants fans from throwing their slack jawed quarterback under the bus. After a 34-13 pummeling, criticism of the New York Giants was abundant, and much of it was aimed at Eli Manning.
It’s easy to sympathize with Giants fans after seeing Saquon Barkley avoid tackles like a glitched out Madden game. The Giants seemingly refused to throw the ball downfield, and it’s easy to blame Eli for that. In doing so, one would be ignoring the Eagles efforts on their defensive line. It would be ignoring how poor the Giants defense performed. It would be ignoring how bad the Giants game plan was going into Thursday night. To blame Eli Manning after Thursday nights game is truly losing sight of the forest to focus on the trees.
It was clear during the first quarter of the game that the Giants did not believe in their offensive line against a stout Eagles defense. Throughout the game, Giants fans had to watch Eli Manning throwing check down passes to anyone who was nearby, on what seemed like every other play. Can you blame Eli Manning for making those passes when he was barely getting any time to drop back and survey the field? It doesn’t help that Eli Manning was missing Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, or Russell Shephard, players who could have helped spread the defense, and make plays when Barkley was off the field.
Odell Beckham Jr. has already pointed out that Manning is not the type of quarterback who will run out of the pocket and make plays. Defenses know this, and understand how to collapse the pocket on Manning to make him nervous. When the Giants quickly fell into catch-up mode, the Eagles were given a free pass to rush Eli Manning without having to worry about a traditional run game.
Giants fans are frustrated that the team did not consider replacing the aging quarterback, after seeing the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff light up the league. Giants fans should look at what other aging quarterbacks around the league are doing, and blame Giants ownership for failing to assemble a team that can handle adversity, even though they have some immensely talented players. There’s no reason OBJ should be having meltdowns on the sideline, but when the defense consistently fails to make a stop on third downs, screaming at inanimate objects is almost understandable.
Pat Shurmur succeeded with his play calling style last year with the Vikings and Case Keenum, so it doesn’t make sense that he cannot replicate that success with Eli Manning. He doesn’t have the elite defense the Vikings had last year (the Vikings themselves don’t have the same elite defense they had last year) so he will need to focus on controlling the game, and handing the ball off to Saquon Barkley.
Right now, Shurmur is letting the opposing defense dictate his offense, and is being too reactionary. Give the ball to Saquon Barkley. Let defenses stack eight defenders in the box, and eventually teams will start putting single coverage on OBJ. Shurmur needs to utilize every trick in the book if he wants to see some wins with this team. Barebones coaching, and hoping things improve on their own will be a golden ticket to watching the playoffs from home.