A friend of mine recently mentioned to me that he was excited at the prospect for the Giants to have such a high pick. I figured that made sense. Any team with a top 10 pick has a chance to grab an impact player. But my friend stopped me and pointed out that the last top 10 pick the Giants had turned into Eli Manning. That shocked me a bit. Manning was selected a decade ago which meant that the Giants had avoided finishing in the NFL cellar for quite some time now. Eli turned out to be the best pick the Giants have made likely over that decade as well (maybe Odell Beckham Jr. will prove that wrong but for now it’s Eli). Yet, with their team’s recent struggles, Giants fans are beginning to call for drastic changes, including moving on from Manning.
I will say this bluntly: are you kidding me? You want to replace the Ole Miss product that won the Giants two Super Bowls? That just baffles me. Sure, you can’t rest on your laurels too long but honestly, I don’t think Eli is the problem. Jettisoning the best quarterback in franchise history is not a good idea. And yes, Manning is absolutely the best quarterback to ever don a Giants uniform. It may be hard to see sometimes but it is definitely true. I am also considering quarterbacks who played the majority of their career in New York, which rules out Fran Tarkenton and Y.A. Tittle. That leaves Eli’s biggest competition to be Giants legend Phil Simms.
Many Giants fans fondly remember Simms playing days of the 80s and 90s but he comes up short compared to Manning. The two have actually played a nearly identical number of games in the NFL (Eli has played one more), even though Simms played 14 seasons and Manning has only played 10. This is mostly due to Simms’ inability to stay healthy over the course of his career. Manning on the other hand has never missed a start since taking over the starting job as a rookie. That's definitely a win for Eli over Phil.
Looking at pure passing stats in the regular season, Manning has a better completion percentage (58.8 to 55.4), more passing yards (over 5,000 more) and a better quarterback rating (81.9 to 78.5). Breaking down some of the stats to analyze a little deeper, Manning has a better touchdown-to-interception ratio (1.31) than Simms does (1.26).
Simms does have a better yards per attempt average than Manning does and was sacked nearly twice as much as Eli, which could explain the injuries. Simms also provided a bit more mobility than Manning does now, as Simms rushed for about three times as many yards as Manning has. Simms also has a better record through as the starting quarterback.
Both quarterbacks led their respective Giants teams to the playoffs in five different seasons. Both were equally as inconsistent as well. Outside of their Super Bowl runs, Simms amassed two touchdowns to six interceptions over seven games. Manning has the same numbers but in only three games. On the flip side, Simms won one Super Bowl in 1986 and Eli has two rings with wins in both 2007 and 2011. He is also great when put in clutch situations engineering 31 game winning drives (not including 5 in the playoffs which ranks as the third best mark in NFL history) while Simms only managed 17.
Both quarterbacks were great in their own right but the edge has to go to Eli. Eli has had more success even though Simms clearly had a better supporting cast. The Giants won the Super Bowl in 1990 while Simms was injured. If Simms had been that important to the team’s success there is no way that they could have accomplished that feat without him. Simms was even replaced the following season when backup Jim Hostetler outplayed him for the starting job in training camp.
It is time to give this Manning brother some credit and take him out of the shadow of his older brother. Eli has beaten Tom Brady twice in the Super Bowl while his Peyton has struggled to conquer Brady throughout his career. Eli has Lombardi trophies, two Super Bowl MVP awards and just about every meaningful passing record in Giants history. So don’t go calling to replace him quite yet. This Giants legend-in-the-makings means more to New York than Simms ever did.