Believing Eli Manning has more good football left in him, while also insisting the Giants address the near-future of the quarterback position are not mutually exclusive thoughts. And, as far as looking at the immobile Manning and seeing a dinosaur that cannot survive in today’s high-octane NFL, well, the most recent data simply does not support that theory.
Case in point: Take a look at the quarterbacks that made it all the way to Super Bowl LIII.
“That’s a new breed of quarterback?’’ Osi Umenyiora, the former Giants defensive end, told The Post. “You got Jared Goff, you got Tom Brady, they aren’t the most mobile quarterbacks. So for all the hype about all the mobile quarterbacks, how many of them are actually winning championships? You don’t really see that. So there’s still something to be said for the guy who sits in the pocket and makes plays. I still think [Manning] can get it done, for sure.’’
Former Giants players owning one or two championship rings, thanks in large part to Manning’s two Super Bowl performances, understandably have a hard time letting go. Umenyiora, who works in broadcasting for the BBC in London, admitted if he saw Manning as broken down or simply too old he would not come out and say it. Too much respect and history together for that.
“I would be like ‘Eli, c’mon, it’s got to come to an end for everybody,’ ’’ Umenyiora said. “I would say it to him, for sure. But publicly I would never come out and say something like that.’’
If Manning was not selected as the MVP of Super Bowl XLII, Justin Tuck should have been for the way he led the pass rush that harassed Brady. Tuck knows all about striking fear into quarterbacks and does not see any of that with Manning.
“Let’s be truly honest with it, Eli has had a great career, I think he’s had a Hall of Fame career,’’ Tuck told The Post. “I think he has more left in the tank, but I think that’s predicated on them shoring up their offensive line, giving him the time he needs. Eli’s never been a mobile quarterback, he’s always been adequate in moving around the pocket but mobile, no, that’s not his M.O. Can he still throw the ball? Sure he can. Can he still lead his team? Sure he can. But he needs the pieces around him to be successful.’’
The Tuck plan moving forward would be to fortify the team around Manning, while also looking for his successor, if possible.
“I would love for them to go out and get some more help on the O-line, maybe a draft pick, but his time is coming, so if they are thinking about going quarterback in the first round this year,’’ said Tuck, who attended the Super Bowl in Atlanta on behalf of DraftKings. “I would love to see Eli have the opportunity for one more year with the Giants and play up until the point they think he’s effective and then turn the reins over to the up-and-coming gunslinger.’’
Umenyiora sees some decline in Manning, but not enough to send him packing. Manning on Super Bowl Sunday became a father for the fourth time, as he and his wife, Abby, welcomed their first son, Charles Elisha Manning.
“I feel like he can still play,’’ he said. “What is he 37, 38 years old now? It’s gonna be a difficult thing to throw the football the way you were when you were 25, but he’s still making good reads, still got good arm strength, I think he can still play, for sure.
“You got a good nucleus. You got good players. Odell [Beckham] is still there, Saquon Barkley, outstanding, Evan Engram, the offensive line started to play pretty well. The defense played OK, need obviously more pass rushers. I think [Olivier Vernon] came on late, he was coming off an injury. I think he played pretty well towards the end of the season. They got a good nucleus of players, you don’t want to go draft a new quarterback right now. It’s a difficult thing to do, not everybody’s going to be a Baker Mayfield coming out. I think you stick with Eli for another year or two and see what happens.’’