By Steve Silverman
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With most quarterbacks, the true test of their talent comes from their performance in the postseason.
No matter how good a quarterback has been in the regular season, it won’t help his overall rating unless he has won a Super Bowl or two. That’s why Dan Marino is not regularly thought of as the best quarterback in the game’s history.
Marino may have had the strongest arm, and put more miles per hour on his fastball than any other quarterback in the game’s history. He put prolific numbers together throughout his career and he is a dominant Hall of Famer.
However, he played in only one Super Bowl, and when he got to Super Bowl XIX against the San Francisco 49ers, he was outplayed by Joe Montana.
While that’s no disgrace, it pretty much eliminates Marino from the discussion of “best ever” because he never won the big one.
Eli Manning has won the big one. He has won two of the big ones and he has been at his best in the fourth quarter of both of those Super Bowl victories over the New England Patriots.
That’s impressive, and the fact that he had to lead his team from behind against a favored opponent on two occasions speaks volumes about his ability and his intangible assets.
But with Manning, there are questions about his consistency at the start of the 2013 season. He has never been a dominant regular-season quarterback, and while he has been voted to three Pro Bowls in his career, his production has been underwhelming the last few years.
In 2009, Manning had a passer rating of 93.1 and that represents the best mark of his career. He was quite good that season, completing 317-of-509 passes for 4,021 yards with 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Many thought that would be a jumping-off point and he should have been able to build off that in the 2010 season. His numbers basically stayed the same that season in all categories, except for interceptions. They went up dramatically to 25 as a result of errant throws, many of which were in crucial games that year. The Giants failed to make the playoffs that year.
His numbers came back up in 2011 when the Giants won their second Super Bowl. Manning cut down on his interceptions as that number fell to 16. Manning did a nice job of keeping plays alive and letting the ball go with accuracy at the last minute. The Giants had virtually no running game during the 2011 regular season, and they needed Manning to carry them and he did.
The Giants added a ground game in the postseason and that helped Eli and Tom Coughlin earn their second Super Bowl.
But then there was last year. There were many problems for the Giants and Manning was one of them. Check out his 59.9 completion percentage. It ranked 17th in the league. His 15 interceptions ranked 24th.
The modern passing game depends on accuracy, and while Manning was far better in that area than he had been 2010, he was not good enough to rank with the best quarterbacks in the business.
That’s just where the Giants need him to be. Manning should not have to take a back seat to Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Relative newcomers like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III should not have better numbers.
The Giants need a lot of things to go right in order to reclaim elite status in the NFL. Having their quarterback return to his best form is one of them.
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