Eli Manning got a lot of laughs before the season began when he said he felt he was in the elite class of quarterbacks along with Tom Brady. We pointed out that he was just confidently responding to a question the way he should have, but we disagreed with him, as did most people.
What’s funny is the way people responded as Eli began to play well during the season. Everyone kept saying week after week, “is Eli elite now?” As if they weren’t the ones laughing at him before the season, and now they were trying to point the finger at everyone else for being wrong.
But here’s the thing: Anyone who said Eli wasn’t elite before the season was right. What’s changed things is the way he played this season, particularly in the fourth quarter of big games, and in the playoffs.
Eli had seven winning drives in the fourth quarter of games this year. He was an astounding 106/163 for 1,219 yards with 9 touchdowns and only 1 interception in the playoffs. He outplayed Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, and Tom Brady to win his second Super Bowl ring. He also threw for nearly 5,000 yards in the regular season, and he had the second-best touchdown-to-interception ratio of his career.
Even though Eli has played well, just like all the other quarterbacks in the elite class, he is now without criticism. It’s taken him a long time to develop, he’s been surrounded by excellent offensive weapons, and his defense has carried the team many of these years. Oh yeah, stick him in the Metrodome, and he becomes Kyle Boller.
But after the season Eli put together, he’s now in the class of the NFL’s top quarterbacks along with Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford. I think Tony Romo and Matt Schaub can be in this class, and so can Mike Vick (if he ever played a full schedule).
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