By Ryan Meehan
On Sunday the Giants dropped to 0-5 after they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 36-21, at home no less. David Wilson left the game around the midway point and would not return. Eli’s numbers were far from impressive and/or tolerable, and it was yet another an all-around weak defensive performance when you consider Michael Vick (One of the Eagles’ most athletic player without a doubt) also left the game early.
My father told me about an article on Sports Illustrated’s subscriber feed that cited the 15 biggest disappointments in the NFL. The Giants held three of them. Hakeem Nicks was one, and the Giants offensive line was another.
The other was Eli Manning. (Actually, he was number one overall) Although Eli has had his share of unlucky moments in this first third of the season, eventually when it’s not working it doesn’t matter who’s fault it is.
Regardless of how good you may have thought Eli Manning was before this year, you still have to admit that you didn’t foresee a winless start to their season through five weeks. I don’t even know who this guy is anymore. Questionable decisions have given way to unquestionably poor decisions, indecisive throws have given way to exceptionally poor throws, but most important of all – winning has given way to losing. The team that they are putting on the field now look nothing like the team they fielded in either of their recent Super Bowl wins.
When Eli entered the league, I wasn’t ever certain that things were going to work in our favor as Giants fans. I thought he needed to gain about ten to fifteen pounds, and that for the most part he was riding on the success of his last name. Whatever it was, I certainly didn’t think it was going to work.
But then a funny thing happened: He did gain the necessary weight, worked on a lot of the mechanical problems he had his first year and developed himself into a respectable NFL quarterback.
And then a really funny thing happened – he got his first Super Bowl win by beating a seemingly unstoppable New England Patriots team that at the time was previously undefeated. It was so unbelievable that it didn’t even seem real.
And then, another really funny thing happened – Just four short years later they faced the Patriots again in Super Bowl 46, again they were huge underdogs, and again the Giants won. And not only did they win, once again it was Eli who led them on the game winning drive. With almost laser sharp accuracy, Manning carved up the Patriots defense and eventually would end up with yet another Super Bowl ring. It was so unbelievable that it didn’t seem real, but this time it was just weird. How could this David of a football player manage to not simply slay Goliath once – but twice? It seemed almost as if Eli Manning had sold his sold to the devil for his own double slice of NFL glory. (Think of the legend of blues guitar player Robert Johnson and hold that thought for the next couple of paragraphs)
Last year, things weren’t great but they weren’t awful. It came down to the last couple weeks of the season, and the Giants just simply weren’t meant to make the playoffs when it was all said and done.
Then came this year. To say that the New York Giants have been inept is a bit of an understatement. There’s been some of it that you can blame on the offensive line for not giving Eli the necessary time to do what he does so well, but in the end nobody wants to place blame on OL guys because let’s face it – they can’t name a lot of them. It’s easier to blame it on a position player, especially one of that high profile in such a grandiose market. And some of it has been the receivers too – being out of sync with Manning or just plain running the wrong goddamned routes. This failure to communicate has been the cause of a lot of “tip drill style picks” that aren’t really Eli’s fault.
But then there is the monster that is Manning himself. To say that he’s been “off” would also be a grave understatement, and that’s no lie. His inability to respond to his own level of frustration has left even the most die-hard Giants fan puzzled as to why that’s suddenly the case.
So for the sake of this example, let’s just say that Eli did make some bizarre deal with the great horned one and traded his Super Bowl rings for his eternal soul. He still might be safe here. And the reason why I say that is, Satan himself might not even realize that Eli is in line waiting to pay his part of the deal. If he looks anything like the Eli Manning that we’ve seen so far this season, even the devil wouldn’t recognize him. If he hadn’t shaven, he’d probably be able to sneak out of line and at least hitch a ride back to limbo before Beezlebub himself had any idea what was taking place right under the smoke shooting out of his nostrils.
And such has been the case of Eli Manning’s season. Even against a team that is falling apart at the seams, even with a chance at 0-4 to get back into the hunt in the worst division in all of professional sports – Eli and the rest of his offense looked (and continue to look) virtually unrecognizable and faceless. It’s almost as if they are existing in a completely different solar system, where turnovers are currency and incompetency is commonplace. It’s enough to make even the most universal symbols of evil overlook one of the most previously recognizable sports figures of the last decade. And it’s not easy to understand why – I’m a fan and even I can’t tell you what in the hell is going on here.