Jaws: Eli now locked in as top-five quarterback

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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.”

69 responses to “Jaws: Eli now locked in as top-five quarterback

  1. I really can’t disagree with Eli being a top 5 QB.

    I think any guy who wins 2 Superbowls in that time span should be considered top five.

  2. I’m starting to wonder if Eli’s team is really the one who makes him look bad. I don’t see a lot of greatness, but he has EARNED two superbowl rings. So is he just ho-hum (great 2011 season) til it counts or does his team just let him down so much, when they finally turn it on he gets to look amazing?

  3. Eli put an end to the discount double check. That alone should put him in the top 5.

  4. No kidding? All it takes to become a top 5 qb is 2 SB MVP’S? WOW! who woulda thunk it? Its a pretty big group. There”s, Umm, Brady…..and……. well, you get the picture. HOF to come.

  5. Um, really Manningham was not open either – Thats why it took such an amazing throw.

  6. Eli is OVERRATED! He is the QB of the BEST team in Football. They have elite Defense, running game and recievers. Any legit NFL QB would dominate behind that O-Line!

  7. How far he’s come. I can still remember despising Eli in those early years as I watched all his flailing duck passes wobble for incompletions.

    He’s overcome media doubt, fan doubt, idiot, jerk teammates, changes to his O-line, changes to his receiving corps and has led his professional life and all that surrounds it with so much consistency and class.

    I couldn’t be more proud of the guy.

    Hope he plays another ten years in New York.

    Let’s Go Giants!

  8. No. No he’s not.

    Eli is a fringe top 10 quarterback with two superbowl rings which guarantee that people will overrate him for the rest of his career.

  9. One of the few times Jaws has been spot on.

    Eli is one of the smartest QB’s in the NFL & he getting better & better at ball placement & progression.

    Cant wait until he gets his 3rd ring!

  10. eli is only good when he has receivers. his numbers without plexico, nicks and cruz, if you break it down, are not that great. he is not one of those qbs like peyton who can make average receivers good. eli’s receivers essentially carry him.

  11. At the beginning of last year, I would have said Rodgers was the best NFL QB. But now I’d say Eli is. Two SB rings in five years. Plus Eli far outplayed Rodgers in the playoff game.

  12. Jaws is so high! No way anybody sane would rank eli in front of big ben! Hes off his meds again!

  13. Eli is an above average QB that becomes great in clutch situations. SB victories do not mean a QB is great; his play does. Manning has some mediocre games and he has had some pretty good ones. Lists like this are so subjective and even the individual’s criteria shifts from player to player. There are a few guys that stand out and the rest of the top 10 guys are easily interchangeable. Personal opinions vary and that’s how this stuff begets controversy. That said, how is Stafford middle of the road after a season like last year? Jaws ranks him at 14. I would put him in the top 10 and an argument can be made for top 5 status. Eli is a capable QB and I wouldn’t be upset if he were the guy on my team but if I had to choose a guy, it would be Stafford

  14. Big Ben is a Product of a ferocious Steeler Defense and Smash mouth Power Running. I remeber Big Ben against Seattle where he has the NFL record for lowest QB Rating for a starting SB QB, I remeber Randle El throwin the only TD Pass and winning MVP, I remeber James Harrison running back a InT 100 Yards to bail out Big Ben against the Cardinals and Santonio Holmes took MVP honors, I remeber Big Ben throwing 3 INT’s in 1st half against the Packers just 2 Yrs ago. I mean if U look at Big Ben SB Performances and Eli’s there is no comparison that Eli is way better than Big Ben. Ask Tim Tebow!!!!! LOL

  15. If you think that Matthew Stafford is better than Eli Manning at this point, you’re either biased or don’t know anything about football.

    To say that the team carried Manning last year is laughable. As players went down all around him and on the defense, he continued to have the best year of his career.

    He’s only good when he has receivers? What does that even mean? Without receivers, you have no one to pass to. He has great receivers, but he makes them better, and they say as much.

    You can easily argue that Manning is better than Roethlisberger. Both have two rings, but Manning hasn’t missed a start in years while Roethlisberger can’t stay healthy.

  16. I am not a giants fan at all and was never much of an eli fan either. The point of the NFL season for each and every team in the league is to win the SB. He has done it twice (i love that it was against the pats both times!) and he is clutch. I definitely believe he has to be in the conversation about the top 5 QBs at this point. The giants were not this great team that everyone who does not like eli loves to tell us they were. They had a lot of injuries and they struggled often. Eli is far from the only reason they won their two superbowls but he was a huge part of it. When the pressure was on he stepped up and made great plays. I really don’t get how so many people try to deny that. Give credit where credit is due.

  17. Matthew Stafford is better than Eli Manning?

    Stafford has the most dominant receiver in the game, hands down. Throw it up, TOUCHDOWN.

    Eli lost Burress and Toomer (both dbags now), and still brought his team back to the Superbowl, and won.

    All of you losers cry now – Eli can win 5 rings, and all of you will still bitch and moan like females.

    Jealousy is a female traight – get over it.

  18. mightyleemoon says:
    Jul 6, 2012 12:56 PM


    Top Ten? Sure.


    Stafford isn’t even better than Cutler, which makes him the 3rd best in his own division. You take away that beast he has at WR, and he is a NOBODY.

    Compare that with Eli.. You all knew Victor Cruz and Super Mario were great before the start of last year? REALLY now?

  19. Eli has his 2 Super Bowl rings, that is a great accomplishment…that being said both Super Bowls were won because of 2 outstanding catches by players that aren’t even on the team anymore, and both Super Bowl years were mediocre regular seasons by the Giants. In order for me to consider Eli a TRUE elite I need to see him dominate all season long in the stat column and the win column while finishing with a Super Bowl victory.

  20. For the record, that Manningham play was the best SB throw/reception in SB history hands down. WRs have practiced toe touch, outstretch, sideline catches like the one Holmes made since they were in pop warner. Those catches are nice but rather ho-hum.

    That Manningham play was sublime. Eli reading the defense in nanoseconds and then throwing a 50 yard dart into an eye of a needle was beyond sick. The over-the-shoulder catch in double coverage, feet down, taking the big hit and holding on….equally beyond sick. The NFL should require that play be in the beginning of all SB promos, videos, top ten countdowns, whatever for now through the end of time.

  21. Let’s just make some factual corrections:

    “Eli is OVERRATED! He is the QB of the BEST team in Football. They have elite Defense, running game and recievers. Any legit NFL QB would dominate behind that O-Line!”

    – Actually, the Giants had one of the worst running games in the NFL last year. And as far as elite receivers go, Cruz was an undrafted nobody coming into last year, as were all 3 TE’s were unexperienced no-names. AND the Giants reshuffled the O-line more than twice during the season.

    “eli is only good when he has receivers. his numbers without plexico, nicks and cruz, if you break it down, are not that great. he is not one of those qbs like peyton who can make average receivers good. eli’s receivers essentially carry him.”

    -based on the facts presented above, you would actually have to conclude that Eli does make average receivers better. Where is 100-catch Steve Smith these days? Kevin Boss? Where were Plaxico’s big numbers? Surely, if it was the receivers making Eli better, Sanchez would have been a Pro Bowler last year.

    “Imagine if Tony Romo didn’t overthrow Miles Austin on that third down pass in Week 14.”

    -making clutch throws on 3rd down is what separates the greats from the Romo’s. Eli was the best 3rd down passer in the NFL last year.

  22. Would we be talking about Eli being top 5 had Welker caught that pass?? No. Eli is not elite. His last name is Manning, he plays in NY and he has 2 rings now (thanks to outstanding defensive play). That all guarantees that he will be overrated forever. He won 2 superbowls where he led his offense to an average of 19 points. The defense won those games. Oh wait, people only use that argument against Tebow.

    I am a Bengals fan, and it pains me to say this, but Ben Roethlisberger is better. Better stats, more superbowls, more playoff appearences and also has 2 rings. Eli has absolutely nothing on Big Ben. Yet you hear nothing about him. Imagine if he played in NY and his last name was Manning though…

  23. I have no problem saying Eli is top 5 going into this year. He won the Super Bowl he was instrumental. He certainly doesn’t have the historical stats to say he’s been top 5 in the past, but I think you can make the argument going forward. So my question now is, who are the top 5? I would say Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Peyton and Eli, giving Peyton the benefit of the doubt related to his injury. That leaves out Rothlisberger which is a pretty tough call. There are a few up and coming guys getting ready to move into these spots in a few years too.

  24. Eli is not top 5. He is too inconsistant. A top 5 QB needs to be consistantly great. This was his first very good year. Top ten yes. He plays like a top ten QB constantly. So top five is too high for a guy who threw a left handed int and led the nfl in ints just a year ago.

  25. Eli is better where it counts SB wins cant deny that. But everyother aspect stafford is better. You dont do what he did if your not upper tier qb and all the “throw it up to CJ” is way out played. If calvin johnson wasnt a lion you could insert a different receiver with half of his production stafford wouldve threw 4k+ and 30+ td’s. Give stafford morecredit he is a stud who finally finally completed a full season and lit it up. Go Leo’s

  26. I have heard 3 times now that eli has 2 rings he will forever be overrated. Well when has Brady won with the 25 worst scoring defense and no running game? Does that mean Brady is overrated as well? How about big Ben. When has he won a superbowl with a defense outside the top 7? Get over oh and if lee Evans makes a catch much easier then the welker drop or the ravens kicker makes a 25 yard field goal then Brady isn’t even in the superbowl. Haters are the kost ignorant idiots in the world. They will say something stupid like if this guy didn’t do this then that wouldn’t have happened. The pats were more lucky then the giants to be in the superbowl. Oh and one more thing. The falcons fans complained about dropped passes, the packers the same, the cowboys fans similar. Isn’t it funny how all these teams had dropped passes against the giants? Maybe just maybe the giants defense got in the receivers heads? Maybe it wasn’t luck at all.

  27. i hate to agree, as i am NOT a giants fan, but give credit where it is due, this guy is money when it counts, unlike that dude in bigD . hard to recall anyone who makes bigger turnovers at the most inopportune times than romo. boys will never win SB with him under center.as a raiders fan, i hope we get barkley or jones next year

  28. He beat arguably the best qb/coach combination of all time not once but twice on the games biggest stage. He is Eli-t-e in my eyes, I bet Brady and Belechick think he’s pretty good.

  29. No one is as calm, cool, and collected as Eli when the game is on the line. Call me crazy, I’ll take him over any QB in the league to run my 2-minute drill. Dude is clutch as they come.

    Also want to point out how tough he is. Eli gets up after EVERY hit. He was getting DESTROYED in the NFC championship game, I couldn’t believe he kept getting up.

  30. he makes plays when it counts. fact.

    like al davis said forty years ago, “great
    players make great plays in big games.” fact.

    give credit. stop hating.

    fyi – 32nd rated running game in 11. there
    are only 32 teams in the league, and the
    D was atrocious for much of the season.
    Only champ to ever allow 400+ points
    and be outscored.

  31. You dont do what he did if your not upper tier qb and all the “throw it up to CJ” is way out played. If calvin johnson wasnt a lion you could insert a different receiver with half of his production stafford wouldve threw 4k+ and 30+ td’s.
    Total nonsense…..
    You take Megatron out of that offense and then you dont have ANY open receivers… The entire offense, including Stafford, would be completely different and straight garbage.

  32. Brett Favre threw turnovers at more inoppurtine times than Romo does. Manning is certainly Top 5, from a 49ers fan. Anybody who doesn’t think so, watch the NFC Championship. We obviously killed ourselves with Special Teams plays, but a lesser QB does not win that game. It was a slugfest and the Giants, to their credit, won and Eli was a HUGE reason for it.

  33. Manning has NOTHING on Roethlisberger? Wow. You can make the argument either way, but to say he has nothing on him is just ridiculous.

    And mikebrownistheworstownerinprosports, you really think that Manning only won that Super Bowl because of defensive play? The biggest play of the game was the throw to Manningham, one of the best throws in football history. You hate Manning and you’re letting it affect your judgement.

    Stop hating. Please.

  34. Well I’ve come to realize over the past few seasons, tha Eli is an elite QB, & at first I didn’t think so. But its more fun when you are a football fan, not just a fan of 1 team. I actually like the Broncos, & I often ask myself which player I would like to have on my favorite team to make them better. Well at QB, I’m pretty sure I’d take Eli within my 1st five picks among active QB’s. One thing that I can’t help but noticing, is Eli is definitely improving a little each year, & his next few seasons I definitely expect to see the Giants in the NFC championship game again. People should try to be less bias when talking football, it makes better conversations with your friends. While I’m a die hard Denver fan, there are many talented players on many other teams, & Eli is a tough, dependable, clutch QB! I’d be glad to have him in Orange & Blue!

  35. I do not understand
    What great running game last year?
    Watched every game missed all that great running

    Everyone now talks as if Cruz was a first round draft pick he was a walk on why is he great 2 reason he works at his craft and he listens to his QB

    Eli does not have elite WR’s he has made a few WR’s elite.

    You can all hate and say what you say but Giants Fans know Eli is #1

  36. When I think “Top 5 QBs” I think about the five QBs I would most want to have on my team THIS year. Eli is too inconsistent to make that list.

  37. agreed. the niners pounded eli relentlessly.
    his helmet was twisted; he had clumps of grass
    stuck in his face mask. eli is a tough, rugged
    warrior. and he is classy, dignified, respectful.
    he doesn’t trash talk and is a role model and
    family man. he also told tiki and shockey and
    plax to stick it in subtle humorous ways after
    they took potshots at him. dislike the giants?
    fine, but give proper credit. show respect and
    be gracious when you lose. how easy it is to
    hide anonymously behind a keyboard and
    think you’re clever.

  38. I currently have Eli at number one. Anyone you rank higher he can outperform. Repeat!!!

  39. @devintheman: Eli’s INT number may have been high in ’10, but somewhere between one-third to one-half of those were off of tipped balls. A LOT of balls right on receivers’ hands, or right on the numbers. Great example of how receivers will only get you so far — their individual numbers might be fine, because they won’t reflect mistakes (aside from fumbles). But if they miss a catch or tip it, and that gets picked, it’s all on the QB as far as the numbers are concerned.

  40. How can so many people dislike @mikejune’s post? He only made factual corrections! I guess haters’ goin’ hate, but come on — y’all can’t troll on Eli by trying to point to the Giants’ running game and defense as reasons for their ’11 SB win, and then get upset when the facts don’t support the claim.

  41. Now thats nonsense. Agreed there wouldnt be constant 2x teams and safeties bracketing another reciever but we would have a different #1 reciever like a julio jones roddy white type and you also discredit the rest of the team and receiving core not just stafford.

  42. Not only do I not think Eli is top 5, I think his brother might not be anymore. We shall see. Would take Big Ben over both – and Brees as well

  43. good QB? yeah…but I refuse to for a guy who stomped and cried like a girl when he got drafted by a team he didn’t want to play for. And I’ll never respect his big bro for backing him on that embarrassing display.

  44. I think even a critical assessment of Eli lands him at number 7. He spent the first half of last year watching his receivers drop passes…

    Also, it really is year by year… Peyton didn’t play last year and Roethlisberger played very poorly after he got hurt. Counting Stafford as a “top 5” quarterback is premature generally, but he did have that kind of year. So the question is, are we talking about a year’s performance or the average performance of a quarterback over the last say 3 years?

    I have a feeling that the questions about Eli will be largely answered in 2012 as he enters the very prime of his career and Brady and Peyton enter the sunset of theirs.

  45. Ben is better. If we are looking at super bowl stats alot of quarterbacks wouldn’t be as good as others who obviously aren’t. Btw here’s a stat for you : steeler went 15-1 Ben Rookie year. 2-1 in super bowl. Also, the all time stat no one can say. 6 rings .

  46. They’re both excellent QBs…… but he and his brother are two of the biggest Billy-Bob Goobers to ever splash their way out of the Louisiana swamps.

  47. I definitely agree with Jaws here. Eli has gradually been improving and last year all of that came into together. He routinely makes the Giants look better than they are.

  48. Big Ben is better at having young girls in the bathroom stall and hiring off duty cops to keep their friends out the bathroom. But on the Gridiron Eli is way better than that guy. Steelers would have 9 rings with Eli. I mean He beat Brady twice and Rodgers, so that’s 3 Rings for steelers right there. Ben just got smoked last yr by Rodgers U heard James Harrison……Run the ball, ur last name not Manning. Sounds to me James kno who’s a better QB.

  49. So tired of super bowl rings meaning you’re a top 5 or hog qb . Manning played for.the same.coach same.system and has a goof team . Insert rivers for the trade bet they have 2 or maybe 3 . His brother only.has one ring doesnt make him a better qb . The top 5 are p.manning Brady Rodgers brees and rivers . Rivers is so underrated because he doesnt have a ring his teams just aren’t as good as elis. Remember Eli was considered a bust after all his picks and inability to get better he recently has gotten better .

  50. So tired of super bowl rings meaning you’re a top 5 or hof qb . Manning played for thesame.coach same.system and has a goof team . Insert rivers for the trade bet they have 2 or maybe 3 . His brother only.has one ring doesnt make him a better qb . The top 5 are p.manning Brady Rodgers brees and rivers . Rivers is so underrated because he doesnt have a ring his teams just aren’t as good as elis. Remember Eli was considered a bust after all his picks and inability to get better he recently has gotten better .

  51. Eli is a top 5 QB. I have Brady, Rodgers, and Brees ranked ahead of him. Thats about it. The guy gets it done when it counts. He wins. He doesnt get rattled under any sort of pressure and his team will always be in the game because of him. He makes his share of bonehead plays, but so did Brett Favre when he was racking up those MVP awards in the 90’s.

    I dont care what the regular season numbers look like. Tony Romo puts up better regular season numbers. Its not fantasy football out there. I cant name 5 other people id rather have as my QB when the playoffs started. Big Ben is definitely comparable but id take Eli

  52. The thing is that if you threw out “the entire body of work” and had to choose 1 QB you’d want with the game on the line and all you had was the stats from 2011, you couldn’t pick anyone other than Eli Manning with a straight face. Nobody was better in the 4th quarter with the game on the line than he was last year. It’s about winning football games not about incredible stats.

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