Eli Manning. (Photo: Getty Images)

Even as he enters year No. 14 in the NFL, there is no doubt that this is Eli Manning’s team. And the moves this offseason by general manager Dave Gettleman clearly were made with the intention of extending their quarterback’s career. A healthy Manning and a balanced offense could mean a playoff team for the Giants this year.

 

Despite a down year in 2017 — not a shock given the state of the offensive line and the health of the Giants wide receivers — Manning is still the best chance for this team to return to the playoffs. He is still a four-time Pro Bowl selection, twice a Super Bowl winner and twice a Super Bowl MVP. While Davis Webb might be this team’s future, Manning is the present. This team needs to win now and it looks like the franchise is being built around a final push with Manning under center.

 

 

Moves by Gettleman this offseason to keep Manning upright by bringing on board left tackle Nate Solder and guards Patrick Omameh and Will Hernandez. Even the move of signing free-agent running back Jonathan Stewart and drafting Saquon Barkley in the first round was designed to lessen the pressure and amount of hits Manning takes this upcoming season. A pass-heavy offense the past three years will now be a group that can and should be able to run the ball.

 

While developing Webb in his second year in the league is important — and he should see some snaps this year in preseason as well as in garbage time — Manning gives the Giants a chance to win now.

 

His numbers, such as touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio and completion percentage were on par with his career average, pointing to the fact that Manning still has plenty left in the tank. That he has been a present during offseason workouts and minicamps is a positive sign for the Giants that their quarterback is plugged in.

 

If the Giants are to return to the playoffs, they will need Manning to be ready and good to go this year. There is a tight window here over the next two seasons (Manning becomes a free agent in 2020) where the Giants can maximize their star quarterback’s ability to lead the team.

Behind an improved offensive line and with what looks like it could be a good group of running backs and wide receivers, the Giants offense should not only be improved but balanced. Good news for a team whose quarterback just turned 37 years old this past January and who remains the biggest piece in their pursuit of a return trip to the Super Bowl.

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