When the Giants and Eagles face off in a prime-time matchup Sunday it’ll feature two quarterbacks who are trending in opposite directions lately.
Just a few short weeks ago, Eli Manning was seen as a player on the decline, unable to grasp new offenive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s West Coast concepts, while Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was seen as a rising star who was ably pushing head coach Chip Kelly’s spread attack to the limits. But as both passers get ready for their NFC East tilt, it’s Manning who is having his name creep back into the elite conversation — while Foles has struggled.
“I think we’re all playing better football. We’ve shaken some things up and I think our guys have adjusted well,” said Manning. “The offensive line is playing well [and] the receivers are getting open quickly. … It’s a new system and every year is different regardless [of the new offense].”
Foles has already thrown more than twice as many interceptions (five) as all of last season (two).
“It is a different team, from one year to the next, no different than the Giants are a different team from one year to the next,” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said. “I look at each one individually.”
Manning’s career completion percentage heading into this season was 58.5 percent and his single-season best was 62.9 percent. Through five games this season, he’s 112-of-169 (66.3 percent) for 1,174 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He said his preparation hasn’t changed this year, but thinks he’s quickly processing the nuances of this offense, which allows him to think quicker on his feet.
“Each week you come in and you try and know the game plan, know what the defense is doing,” Manning said. “I come into each week with a plan for myself of where I’m going with the ball, and what my reads are. I feel good about what we’re doing, but we have to keep going. We’ve had some successes so far [but] we all definitely have room for improvement [and] have to get better at some of the little things.”
Manning has been very judicious in spreading the wealth. Two weeks ago, tight end Larry Donnell was thrust into the national spotlight in a win at Washington where he registered three touchdowns in the first half. But then in last week’s win over Atlanta, he was nonexistent as he didn’t record a reception and was only targeted once.
Such an impartial way to dole out receptions is a major concern for Kelly, who noted Manning is doing a stellar job at making opposing defenses defend every inch of the field.
“We don’t look at the Giants as a one-receiver deal. I think part of the offense that Ben brought with him is that they’re going to take what the defense gives,” said Kelly. “It’s not like you say, ‘If we shut down this guy, we’re going to be okay.’ They have too many weapons and Eli is spreading it out well. If you do a good job on Donnell, then you have to worry about [wideout] Victor Cruz, who’s been a very productive receiver in this league. Then there’s Rueben Randle, who has played really well against us and is doing another good job this year. And then you add [rookie wideout Odell] Beckham being back healthy ... so I don’t think you can [focus on one guy]. Eli is so good at what he’s doing right now.”
Big Blue notes …
»Linebacker Spencer Paysinger (hamstring) and running back Rashad Jennings (knee) were unable to practice on Wednesday.
»Also on the preliminary injury report — but able to practice — were linebacker Jon Beason (foot/toe), cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle/hamstring) and punter Steve Weatherford (ankle).
»Manning’s 11 touchdowns through five games ties his career-high through the same pace.
»The quarterback’s current passer rating of 95.6 dwarfs his career rating entering this season of 81.2.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.