When Does Eli Manning Get Criticism in this Market?

Leslie MonteiroSenior Analyst INovember 22, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 21:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 21, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

In a Sports Illustrated poll, football players voted Eli Manning this year's most overrated quarterback. This makes sense. What has Manning done to earn respect from his peers?

Giants fans love him, and so do the Giants beat writers. The Giants players seem to have his back. Why?

Outside of one fluky postseason in 2008, he has not accomplished much here. Let's be realistic. He orchestrated two collapses in the last two years. In 2009, the Giants lost in the first round, and the Giants did not qualify for the playoffs last season.

If he does not get it together, the Giants could miss the playoffs or lose in the first round again.

Last night's game raised doubts. The Giants defense confused Michael Vick all night long. The Giants would have won the game had Manning thrown a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it didn't happen.

Instead, it was Vick who played the hero. On a fourth down, Vick tossed it to LeSean McCoy, who ran for the 50-yard, game-winning touchdown. 

There's no question Philly's defense was great, but great quarterbacks find a way to get it done. Vick did it; Manning did not.

If anything, Manning handed the Eagles the victory. A great quarterback would have put it away late. One wonders if the Giants quarterback has the killer instinct to finish off a team.

Also, there are questions about his arm. He is not throwing deep like he used to. In the Eagles game, all he did was throw short passes. That doesn't do anything for the Giants.

He is getting picked off often. Asante Samuel knew where the ball was going when Manning threw, and it wasn't a coincidence he caught interceptions.

Now, the struggling quarterback is fumbling and failing to slide. That's what happened late in the game when the Giants needed to score in the final play.

Five turnovers altogether, and Manning committed three of them. This is not what the Giants are paying him to do.

When then-Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi gave up a ransom to get Peyton's brother, the idea was Eli would be a franchise quarterback. He would win games by himself. He would give the Giants a chance to win every game.

Manning fulfilled that vision in the 2008 postseason. He orchestrated the Giants' four postseason wins, especially the two-minute drill in the Super Bowl against the Patriots. It was a thing of beauty back then.

The Giants thought that performance would be a springboard to future success. When the Giants had that great start in the 2008 regular season, it looked like he was on his way. Then, Plaxico Burress made a stupid decision by taking a gun to the Latin Quarter, and then he was suspended the rest of the season.

Manning and Big Blue struggled, and there would be no repeat. Manning had a rough game against the Eagles at home in the 2009 playoff game. He hasn't recovered since.

Who knows what's wrong with Manning? The Giants can't be in denial anymore. Not after last night. Give Tom Coughlin credit for calling Manning out after the game. He is letting his star know that his play is not acceptable.

He wants his quarterback to figure it out fast or else the team may not make the playoffs. That's the problem. The Giants don't know what's wrong with him, and neither does he. That’s not a good sign heading to the final stretch.

When Manning struggles, he doubts himself. That results in him being skittish. There were signs of that late in the game, and then his body language takes the life out of the team.

There is also the issue of him playing in the wind at home games. Just because the Giants are playing in a new stadium, it doesn't mean things are going to change. At last check, the stadium is still outdoors, and the weather is cold in December and January.

The Giants did not fork up all that money and give up all those draft picks just for that one Super Bowl Championship. They expect him to win multiple championships, and they certainly expect him to lead the Giants in the postseason every year.

There's no guarantee the Giants are making the playoffs. Figure the Saints will be the Wild Card. This means the Giants are contending with the Eagles for the NFC East and they are contending with the Bears, Packers and the Buccaneers for the final Wild Card spot.

A long losing streak will likely end their playoff hopes. That's why Coughlin snapped in last night's press conference. He knows the deal. If his quarterback keeps playing like that, the head coach will be out of a job.

It would be nice if Giants fans admit their quarterback is not good. It's remarkable he never gets criticized if he has a bad game. After getting a Super Bowl Championship, he has been left alone. The writers have not ripped the quarterback, either.

At some point, the free pass has to end. He should be subjected to scrutiny. He is not at the level of Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning. He hasn't showed that in his career. It is amusing Giants fans think of him that way. Folks around the country don't even think of him as an elite quarterback.

The sports radio talkies need to get on Manning's case, too. They defend Mark Sanchez, too, but if he has a bad game, he gets ripped. It doesn't make sense.

Coughlin was the voice of reason, thankfully. Maybe Manning's bobos will follow suit, but don't expect that to happen. He can't do anything wrong from their perspective.

New York is hard on their athletes, but if they win a championship, they are Teflon for life no matter how bad they are for the rest of their tenure.