Here is an excerpt from today’s “Ask Vic” column on Packers.com. It sounds like many critics out there felt that Eli Manning would never turn into something special because of the flaws he showed in his first few years in the NFL – pocket presence, throwing off the back foot, “chuck and duck”….sound familiar? Will Blaine Gabbert ever develop into a quarterback of Manning’s present caliber? Who knows, but this should at least encourage us to show him some patience because it turns out, players do have the ability to improve on their rookie season…
Jim from Winterville, NC
A few years ago, you had reservations about the younger Manning. Mainly, I think it was about his pocket awareness, throwing off the back foot and his propensity to chuck and duck. What changed this, coaching, maturity or a better line?
You hit on some, you miss on others, and I missed on Eli Manning. I covered him on a Monday night in 2006 when he was absolutely horrible. He was extremely skittish that night; he refused to step up in the pocket. If ever a quarterback looked like a deer in the headlights, Manning did that night. He looked scared. I thought he was a bust, and so did a lot of other people. Then came his championship season in 2007, when he caught fire at the end of the season and stayed hot through the playoffs. It resurrected his career, but he failed to match it until this season. This is the season Manning became a legitimate star quarterback. What changed him? First, I think he has to get credit for dedicating himself to being a better player and overcoming criticism in a place where criticism can be most extreme. I think Tom Coughlin gets credit, too, for maintaining his belief in Manning. What I’m seeing now is that Eli is the polar opposite of his brother. Eli tends not to knock your socks off until crunch time; that’s when he comes to life and I love that about him because that’s the quality in quarterbacks I admire the most. I was wrong about this Manning. He’s not a bust. He’s a star.