The eyes of a diehard New York Giants fan don’t lie. Quarterback Eli Manning is just about where he should be. Most forget he’s human and does err. Abhorrence, jealousy and fear cloud others true analysis of him. It doesn’t seem to affect the veteran who is in his 9th season and that, perhaps, is one of his strongest qualities.
In January of this year, during the NFC Championship game, the captain of the Giants’ offense was attacked in every possible way by the San Francisco 49ers defense that sacked him six times and hit him relentlessly. The game was no doubt the definition of a throwback slobber-knocker.
''That was a tremendous football game for those that really enjoy football at its very basic element,'' said coach Tom Coughlin. ''Just a classic football game that just seemed like no one was going to put themselves into position to win it. Fortunately, we were able to do that.''
Despite the beating he took during that contest, Eli was 32/58 for 316 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. It was a game that not only propelled Big Blue to the Super Bowl, but showed the world how tough Easy E truly is. His laid back demeanor, however, is about everything except football.
"I try to be a smart quarterback. I'm not the fastest or the best athlete, but if I can know what the defense is doing and stick to my job and what needs to be done I can make the plays needed to move the ball and score," he said.
He also downplays his part in comebacks of the recent past. #10 is all about team. His pre and post-game interviews rarely focus on what he did – unless it was poor play, and then he owns it. Even as his stats are still improving incredibly, Eli sees much room for improvement. Who wouldn’t want him as their quarterback?
Going into week six of the 2012 NFL season, there is much chatter coming from the west coast as the team that the New York Football Giants are about to face (again) have a large chip on their shoulders (and so does their head coach). San Francisco is talking about payback (yes, during the regular season) and have supposed home field advantage and some former blue players on their side. The 49ers also have the edge on the line (by 5) and most of those awesome prognosticators picking them. This makes for another hard-fought game with implications for the future, but the G-Men still have Eli Manning behind their offensive line of scrimmage.
Apparently, #10 is still their main focus. Former Giants wideout Mario Manningham has characteristically (attempted to) call out his former rock-thrower and company, showing that he has been “educating” his current teammates on the tendencies of his former ones:
”I’ve talked to my teammates and given them some heads up on what’s going to happen," said Manningham. “I know what’s going on and I shared it with them."
While others out west choose to pay compliments to him.
“He's a magician. That's what he is," 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh said. "And he's a football player."
And then some defensive players chimed in:
"Definitely, just watch the film," S Dashon Goldson said. "He's moving back there — he's not staying in one spot. He can pull a rabbit out of a hat at any time."
Including Patrick Willis…
“[Manning] made it look almost easy," San Fran LB Patrick Willis said referring to Ole Miss days. "I didn't see adverse times that much. Also, back then I didn't know what to look for, I was just happy to be winning."
These 49ers know of Eli Manning's inclination for “magic” and the big play/comeback capability once the ball is in his hands. With game tape readily available, who doesn’t? Currently, Easy ranks second in the NFL in passing yards (with 1,579) and despite early season o-line woes, has been sacked only four times. Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride knows more about E and his surrounding parts than anyone:
"So it really doesn’t matter what you do. If we’re doing it well enough, we’re going to have a chance to get open. Now it still comes down, are you good enough to beat a defender and are you good enough up front to provide sufficient time for the quarterback to make those decisions, to sit and see who’s open," Gilbride said. "It maybe wouldn’t be quite as much of a concern for us as it is for some more conventional offenses."
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