(CBS New York)- The New York Giants 35-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 saw starting quarterback Eli Manning throw for over 300 yards and a touchdown against a strong Cowboys defense.
However, after the game, the focus was less on Eli’s good plays than on the ones that he wasn’t able to make. Specifically, people zeroed in on a play in the third quarter where, with the Giants trailing by eight and the ball inside the 10-yard line, Shurmur called a bootleg for Manning that ended disastrously.
Eli Manning looking like Michael Vick out there! What a move pic.twitter.com/3AakWbjn79
— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) September 8, 2019
Now, most people were questioning the call itself more than Eli’s athleticism. With a star running back in Saquon Barkley, the team called a play for the fullback on third down followed by the Manning boot. Not the most efficient use of resources. But, still, for as long as rookie Daniel Jones sits waiting in the wings, the debate of when to pull the plug on Manning and go to the top pick will rage. NFL on CBS analyst Dan Fouts cautions that going to Jones ignores one important factor for a team that is looking to win.
“The thing you have to remember is that Eli has a ton of experience and Jones has none. You can’t replace that experience,” said Fouts. “If he is physically up to it, he should keep operating that offense, because he has seen everything. He knows how to adjust to situations. He performed very well on the road against a good defense last week.”
To Fouts’ point, Manning did not appear to be the problem in the Giants loss. The team allowed Dak Prescott to top 400 yards and get four touchdowns through the air while averaging 12.7 yards per pass. They did slow down Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys running game, allowing just three yards per rush, but the defense put the offense in a hole that the unit could not dig out of.
However, for those looking for a stat to point to for why Manning should be replaced, there are those too. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Manning’s completion percentage of 68.2 was 1.9 percentage points below expected based on the throws he made in the game. Another stat to look at is air yards to the sticks, which is Next Gen Stats’ way of quantifying if a passer is throwing past the first-down marker on average or relying instead on his receivers to get past the marker after the catch. Manning ranked 24th in the league there, averaging throws coming up 2.7 yards short of the sticks.
As the Giants head into Week 2, another tough task looms, with the Buffalo Bills defense that shut down the Jets coming to town. You can catch the Giants on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on CBS. Greg Gumbel, Trent Green and Melanie Collins will be on the broadcast for the network.