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Point/Counterpoint: Is Eli Manning an elite quarterback?

Senior Staff Writer and Campus Correspondent

Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

Danny: An elite quarterback can be measured in a variety of ways but Eli Manning has proven himself this season and it can be clearly seen through the numbers he has tallied. Eli ranks in the top-five of the NFL in passing yards, yards per attempt, and passing yards per game. Not to mention being just outside the top-five in touchdown passes with 29 and a passer rating of 92.9.

Andrew: Glad we agree that elite can be defined as top-five material, but that's where it ends. Yards are a terribly skewed measure of quarterback play, see Phillip Rivers this year, as is passer rating. Why no mention of turnovers? Eli gave the ball away 22 times! And how can you say he's elite when against pass defenses average or above (1st-16th), he threw 11 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and completed 56 percent of his throws? That's not even average, let alone elite.

Danny: Agreed Eli has turned the ball over a few too many times. But you cannot say passing yards is a skewed stat. Eli came within 70 yards this season of becoming the third quarterback ever to throw for 5,000 yards. If not for the record-breaking seasons of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, Eli would have been a favorite for league MVP. One cannot deny the resilience of Manning, playing in every game since 2005 and leading the Giants to the playoffs five of the last seven seasons.

Andrew: If interpreting passing yardage as a complete measure of play isn't skewed then two years ago seven different quarterbacks had better seasons than the eventual and unanimous MVP Tom Brady. And just to be clear four quarterbacks have thrown for 5,000 yards: Marino, Brees, Brady and Stafford. The last three, along with Rodgers and Tony Romo each had more touchdowns, fewer interceptions and better completion percentages than Eli. That keeps him out of the elite club and MVP race. God forbid Peyton Manning, Mike Vick or Matt Schaub stayed healthy.

Danny: Yes, but my point was that Eli would have been first in passing yardage in almost any other year. Not to mention Eli's record tying 15 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter this season. But enough on the regular season, Eli has the ring. Manning led the Giants down the field in the final minutes of Super Bowl XLII, throwing the game winning touchdown and upsetting a heavily favored New England squad. The list of quarterbacks Manning has defeated in the postseason includes Romo, Favre, Brady, Ryan, and Rodgers. Eli has come through in the clutch and has proven to be a winner.

Andrew: But he wasn't first, just like this isn't 2007. The question posed asks whether Eli Manning is an elite quarterback. He's not playing as one of the game's best and there's yet to be a season where he has. It's that simple– he's not elite. And teams win football games, not one player. Quarterbacks don't play against other quarterbacks–they face defenses. Riddle me this: how can anyone in any sport be considered the best when he or she commits that game's cardinal sin (turnovers) more than any other player (53 in the last two years)?

Danny: Yes, I already said turnovers are an issue but he does make it up in other statistical categories and by winning. The top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL right now are Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger then Eli. Name one other quarterback that has put up the numbers and won the way Manning has. Riddle me this- Eli Manning's season is not over, are you trying to tell me the Giants' success down the stretch and in the postseason has nothing to do with the Manning's playing?

Andrew: Listen, he doesn't win- the Giants do as a team. Wins are not a quarterback stat- that's even worse than yards! Vince Young has a 62% career win mark. Does that make him better than Brees, Marino and Kurt Warner? No. But OK, let's try Matt Stafford. The Lions had more wins. Also, he threw more touchdowns, and had a better completion percentage. Same with Romo. And the success comment is just silly.Danny: I completely disagree; wins are everything to a quarterback. Romo and Stafford have combined for one playoff win, Manning has six. Not to mention Eli has an NFL best; six game winning drives this season. Some may not like Eli for his last name or his style of play, but any football fan has to give credit where credit is due. Eli has put up the numbers and has delivered under immense pressure situation and has proven to be a top 5 quarterback. Eli Manning is elite.

Andrew: Why? Back to our friend Vince Young. When he was in Tennessee, he's the one winning while Chris Johnson just puts up rushing and all-purpose team records, is that right? Or what about another quarterback playing now– Joe Flacco? Is he elite with now five post-season wins that are almost all thanks to that great defense behind him? Eli is a good quarterback, but he's not among the best of the best. By looking at valid statistical measures, and his poor performances against decent competition, one can see this. Other quarterbacks are just better.  

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