Thursday, December 8, 2011

Giants: the QB

I am tired of hearing that Eli is a QB that needs the great tools and weapons around him, that he doesn't make the players around him better. Just take a look at the players he has on this team this year. For one thing, the running game, so often the friend of a QB and a tool that can lift up the quality of his play by keeping the defense off balance has been very weak for the Giants this year. They are among the worst in the league in total yards rushing and yards per carry. Then look at Eli's receivers. Jake Ballard was not drafted coming out of college because of his lack of credentials and ridiculously low time at the NFL combine - he ran a flat 5.0 for the 40 and has not increased his time since. And it's not like he escaped the view of scouts because he went to a small, out of the way school like some of the other NFL players. He went to Ohio State. He was on the practice squad for the Giants and would not have played much this year if he was not pressed into emergency service because of the departure of Boss. He doesn't beat anybody with his speed, he doesn't shake and bake or dazzle them with his moves. He runs decent routes, catches the ball most of the time when it is thrown to him, and relies on a great QB who gets him the ball right on time and with perfect ball placement so he can use his big hands and his body to shield the defender and snare the ball. With an average QB, he would be nowhere.

Now let's consider Victor Cruz who is having a wonderful breakout season. He is the leading receiver on the Giants in yards, receptions and TDs. He also has come along slowly, had to develop his moves and develop a chemistry with the QB. He does not run past anyone with his speed; he is fairly elusive, runs good routes and his speed is just good enough to allow him to make plays when it is combined with his quick feet and sharp cuts. As a pure athlete he is not a star; there are probably dozens of WRs in the NFL that are far more gifted than Cruz and he too would be an also ran on another team and with another QB. However, on the Giants, because of the reads Eli makes and the decisions and throws he makes, Cruz, in case you haven't noticed is  fourth in the league in total receiving yards. He is up there right behind Wes Welker, Calvin Megatron Johnson, multiple all-pro Steve Smith and right in front of rookie TE sensation Jimmy Graham. Unbelievable. What is the diminutive Cruz doing in that company? Maybe the QB that is throwing him the ball has something to do with it.

Eli had a very good year throwing the ball last year, but it was seriously marred by all the INTs. Of course, that's all anyone focused on - that Eli threw 25 INTs last year. Anybody notice that all world Drew Brees threw 23 picks last year? But when you brought that up, everyone excused it saying that he didn't have a running game and the Saints were just an average team so they had to rely on Brees' passing game, which led to him taking too many chances. How's that compare to Eli this year?

Eli is averaging 308 yads per game for the entire season; that is just a remarkable number. I suspect his average will drop off over the last 4 games, because the weather turns cold in the northeast and the last three games of the year are being played in Met Life Stadium. Still, where Eli has taken this team this year is spectacular and I am happy that he is QB of the team I root for.

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