Eli Manning is under duress this year but it is not just from opposing defensive lines that are cutting up his protection. He also is under pressure from his own fans and the media for the slow start of the offense.
And yet, Manning is on track to have a pretty decent year. If only his offensive line could step up and actually get in someone’s way then maybe he wouldn’t be getting this unrelenting pressure on and off the field.
The Giants are 0-2 for the fourth time in the past five years. It is another ho-hum start for the offense and the entire team as the offense looks to develop after an offseason of rebuilding.
“It’s just doing our job. We got to find a way to get into a rhythm early. We hadn’t done a very good job at that and get some first downs, stay on the field,” Manning said on Wednesday.
“We were close a few times on sustaining drives. We were half a yard away on some things, on some third downs so I think we’re close on a few of those things and then there will be some opportunities to take some shots, we got to do that, but it’s also being patient, waiting for it.”
The initial return on Manning this season, though, is far from the popular narrative out there that he should be benched.
Although two games is admittedly a small sample size, Manning is on track to throw for 4,024 yards this year, just three passing yards off the pace from 2016 when he led the Giants back to the playoffs.
That is far from doom and gloom.
His completion percentage (69.1 percent), is almost 10 percentage points higher than his career average. And his 6.21 yards per pass, though down from his career average, is better than last year. His passer rating is also slightly higher than his career average.
All of which points to the fact that while Manning isn’t perfect this year, he isn’t getting help from his line. That unit remains the weak point of not just the offense but the entire team.
The failure to pass protect or even open things up for the running game has Manning throwing under duress. If he could get some time, maybe those pretty decent numbers from the season’s first two games would be higher.
“When it clicks and those almost-plays or those plays where people say, ‘that was blocked well’, ‘that was a good throw’, ‘that was a good catch’ – when those plays start to hit, then that’s when the confidence starts to build,” head coach Pat Shurmur said. “The good news is we’ve got a lot of high-quality guys in our locker room that they understand it, they’ve all been through the ups and downs of a season and we’re embarking on our third game. It’s important that we continue to get better. I know I said that quite a bit yesterday, but I think that’s really where it’s at.”