The debate to end all debates: Eli Manning, Big Ben, Philip Rivers….. who is the best?
By Louis Gorini
Feb 5, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning during the Walter Payton man of the year press conference at Moscone Center in advance of Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Never has a NFL draft changed the landscape of three franchises quiet like the one in 2004. Philip Rivers. Eli Manning. Ben Roethlisberger. Forever these three quarterbacks will be linked together because of the history they share.
We have all heard the stories before. If San Diego would have held onto Eli Manning, the Giants would have selected Ben Roethlisberger while the Steelers would have drafted Phillip Rivers. And if that did happen, we would probably be having a different narrative than the one I intend to embark upon now.
Let me set the record straight before I intend to unbiasedly rank these 3 elite quarterbacks. I am a San Diego Chargers fan than that lives on the east coast. So I have plenty experience of having intense exchanges with my good friends that are Giants and Steelers fans about who is the best among the three. One thing must not be misconstrued. This is not an article for me to declare which quarterback I would rather want leading my team. If it was, I would choose Philip Rivers 6 days a week, and twice on Sundays. I love his leadership; his fiery and infectious temperament; his passion; his competitiveness; his heart; and his love for his teammates. What he did in the 2007 AFC playoffs; playing on a torn ACL on the road against the New England Patriots, will never be forgotten. These are the intangible qualities that you will not see on the stats sheets that I would want my quarterback to display. Instead, this is an article that will take a look at each quarterback and determine which signal caller is the best.
Nov 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) makes a pass during the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Giants 52-49. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
REGULAR SEASON STATS
THE CASE FOR ELI MANNING
Eli Manning has been under tremendous scrutiny ever since he put on his football cleats. Throughout his whole career, he has been constantly compared to his older brother, Peyton, who is arguably one of the best quarterbacks of all time. If being compared to his bigger brother wasn’t enough pressure, Eli happened to end up in a city where even the mightiest of men have been chewed up and spit out, New York City. New York is a town where if you win, you become an instant legend; but if you lose, you are automatically vilified and massacred.
Eli has had his fair shares of ups and downs, but you cannot take away that he is a winner. Throughout his career during the regular season, the 4 time Pro Bowler has lead his team to 33 game winning drives. What is even more impressive is his performance when the Giants are in the playoffs. Eli seems to thrive in the playoffs. During postseason play, Eli’s completion percentage is nearly 2% higher than his regular season while his interception percentage is 1 % lower. These are reasons why his Quarterback Rating is nearly 4 % higher in the post season and has a career 73% winning percentage in the playoffs. In 2007 and 2011, Eli Manning took on Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. And in both games, Manning defeated perhaps one of the best NFL dynasties while earning Super Bowl MVPs in both contest.
HOW HE COMPARES AGAINST THE OTHERS
- 4 TIME PRO BOWLER
- 2 TIME SUPERBOWL MVP
- WINNER: Best playoff winning percentage among the three
- IRONMAN: 183 consecutive starts, the most by any active quarterback
- COMEBACK KING: Holds the NFL record for most 4th quarter touchdown passes in a season and has 5 game winning playoff drives, the most among any of the three
THE CASE AGAINST ELI MANNING
Ask any Giants’ fan, as brilliant as Eli Manning can be in the playoffs, he can be equally as frustrating during the regular season. Eli has proven to be highly erratic with the ball during the regular season. His career completion percentage is a pedestrian 59.3%. To put that into perspective, Andy Dalton, Jay Cutler, John Kitna, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Kyle Orton all have higher career completion percentages than Eli Manning. It doesn’t just stop at incompletions with
Nov 29, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) on the field before the game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Manning. Eli has thrown for an outlandish 199 interceptions throughout his 12 year career. It is no secret that Eli’s ordinary regular season performance has been a major contributor to the New York Giants mediocre record of 97-86 in the last 12 years. That is the downfall of the quarterback position. If you want to give Eli the credit for the New York Giants playoff success; then you have to give him the blame for the regular season failures. And if Giant fans disagree with that thinking, then let’s take a look at the 2 Super Bowl victories by the Giants. Yes, Eli was efficient in both match ups against the Patriots. In 2007, he was 19 out of 34, for 255 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, and 2 fumbles. Manning received the MVP of the game mainly because of the immaculate throw to David Tyree. But the real MVP of that game was the NY Giants defensive line which harassed Tom Brady all game, causing 5 sacks and 1 fumble. The Giants offense could have not kept up with the dynamic Patriots offense if it wasn’t for the implementation of the racecar formation (where the Giants placed all of their pass rushing defensive ends on the field at once to pressure Brady all game). Now Eli did play better in Super Bowl XLVI with a stat line of 30 for 40, 296 yards, and a touchdown but once again the story of the game was Tom Brady being unable to get comfortable in the pocket. The Giants defense caused 2 sacks and an interception, while holding Brady and the Patriots to 17 points. As for the Giants offense, they were only able to muster up 21 points.
HOW HE COMPARES AGAINST THE OTHERS
- REGULAR SEASON DISAPPEARING ACT: Worst regular season winning percentage among the three
- INACCURATE: Worst completion percentage among the three
- JUST ENOUGH: Lowest yards per game among the three
- TURNOVER PRONE: Finished in the top 10 in passes intercepted 9 times and has the most interceptions and highest interception rate among the three
- CO-MVP? The NY Giants defense was the real MVP of the 2 Super Bowl victories