Eli Manning had the worst year of his career in 2013. As we wrote earlier this offseason, this doesn’t necessarily imply his imminent decline. Eli has always been a streaky quarterback who makes some great throws as well as some really questionable ones. Without a great defense or even a decent running game in 2013 (he also had atrocious pass protection) his flaws as a passer were brought to the forefront. However, a new style of offense should get Eli back on track in 2014.
For pretty much his entire career, Eli Manning has been in an offense that pushes the ball downfield regularly. This is one reason why Manning has a career completion percentage of 58.5 despite being a pretty accurate passer. The downfield and riskier throws generally lead to more incompletions and turnovers. With new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo bringing his west-coast-style offense over from Green Bay, Manning’s completion percentage should increase and the turnovers should occur less frequently. The new offense will also provide Manning with more control.
For most of Eli’s career, the Giants’ passing game has had a heavy dose of option routes. These are where the receivers are reading the defense and adjusting their routes based on the type of coverage being played. This can lead to lots of explosive plays through the air, but it can also lead to a lot of negative plays if the quarterback and his receivers aren’t always on the same page. This is one element of what went wrong for the Giants in 2013.
There aren’t as many option routes in Ben McAdoo’s offense. This means the success of the play will be based more on Eli’s ability to read the coverage than before. If a receiver’s route doesn’t look good against the coverage, the route won’t change, but rather, Eli will look elsewhere or change the play at the line. This will lead to Manning more often throwing the ball into the soft spots of the defense regardless of who the receiver is instead of forcing it to whoever his best matchup is personnel-wise.
While Eli’s play last season certainly wasn’t stellar by any means, he was not the main problem. The main questions in 2014 should be centered around the new offense, new pieces, and how they’ll mesh with Manning. His ability as a quarterback really shouldn’t be a concern, though.