Giants quarterback Eli Manning took his game to another level in 2011, setting career highs in passing yards and yards per pass attempt while leading New York’s NFC team to its second Super Bowl title in five years. ESPN’s Ron Jaworski is breaking down the NFL’s top-30 quarterbacks on SportsCenter, and he explained Manning’s improvement while ranking Eli as the fifth best signal caller in football today.
“You know where I saw significant improvement in Manning last season? Progression reading,” Jaworski said.
Jaws pointed specifically to Manning’s fourth-quarter Super Bowl completion to Mario Manningham, which came versus a Cover Two defense. Manning’s first two reads were covered, so he hit third read Manningham on a fade route for the game-changing 38-yard gain, putting the throw on his receiver’s outside shoulder with two defenders in the area.
“Pre-snap recognition,” said Jaws. “Progression reading. Subtle pocket movement. Willingness to pull the trigger. Precise ball location. You saw many of the attributes demanded to play at an elite level.”
Jaworski singled out another playoff throw, from the Giants’ wild-card win over the Falcons. Manningham was again Eli’s third read, but Manning recognized that Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz weren’t open. “Then he came to Manningham on the post,” Jaws observed. “That’s great pocket command.” Manning connected with Manningham for a 27-yard touchdown.
“There was another element to Manning’s game in which he showed considerable improvement in 2011,” Jaworski added. “The ability to extend plays outside the pocket. Manning made some big throws when forced to move.”
“When you watch every play, you really get a good feel for a player,” Jaworski said. “Manning is one of the smartest, most aware quarterbacks in the NFL. His development over the last three or four years has been steady and consistent. He is now one of the top-five quarterbacks in the NFL.”