This week's rumblings was created by various discussions I heard, especially over the radio regarding Eli Manning. While I do believe Eli has put himself into the category where he may be considered elite, I was surprised to find people debating whether he and his Head Coach, Tom Coughlin, were Hall of Fame candidates.
I will not take anything away from Eli or even Coughlin as they have both enjoyed success with the Giants. Eli has put up some impressive numbers and nearly came up with a 5,000 yard season this year. His 4,933 yards were a career high and he carried the Giants in a year where they struggled to run the football. Eli is deserving of being considered in the upper echelon of QBs based on his play and Super Bowl titles, but what about him makes people think he is a Hall of Fame QB?
Up until the Super Bowl in February 2008, Eli was considered a somewhat disappointing, inconsistent QB. His leadership was questioned and despite having all the tools, he just couldn't consistently put it together. His play would resemble more of a Mark Sanchez than a Drew Brees. Even though he had his usual inconsistent season, Eli helped the Giants earn the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs before the Giants went on a tear, ending their season with a victory over the then 18-0 New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The momentum carried into 2008 when Eli had his first season completing over 60% of his passes as he also cut down on his mistakes. His play continued to thrive to this day and with the exception of a semi-disappointing season in 2009 in which he threw 25 interceptions, he had entrenched himself as a top 10 QB in the NFL. Even now, he's pushing in the top 5 with the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers. Elite? Sure. Hall of Fame? Time to press on that brake pedal.
Beyond the 2 Super Bowl victories, what has made Eli a Hall of Fame level QB? Players like Eddie George, Robert Smith, Corey Dillon, and Fred Taylor were once considere in the top 5 for RBs. QBs like Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper, and Rich Gannon were once considered in the top 5 for QBs. Sorry, but top 5 doesn't get you in the Hall of Fame. For his career, Eli is still a QB who doesn't average a 60% completion percentage and has passed for 27,000 yards. His career QB rating is 82.1. Still closer to Chad Henne than to Drew Brees.
As for Tom Coughlin, this was a coach that was on the hot seat during the season. While he has had only one losing season with the Giants, his team has been known as a team that plays down to the competition and loses games they should win with ease. He helped the Jaguars reach the AFC Championship in their second year, but he struggled to maintain their success and was eventually fired after three consecutive losing seasons. He has had a good career, but he's never been considered one of the best Head Coaches in the NFL. Two Super Bowl victories in 16 years shouldn't be an automatic qualifier for the Hall of Fame.
Going back to elite, what is considered elite anyways? When I ask people to name the elite QBs, some will mention 10 or more QBs. In a league where you have 32 starting QBs, being ranked 10th shouldn't be considered elite. If you're at #10, congratulations on being above average. You're still not elite. At #8, you're warming up. At #6, you're knocking on the door. At #3 or #4, welcome to the club. Eli, welcome to the club.
Just so people aren't confused, I am not saying Eli won't ever be a Hall of Fame QB. I'm just saying he's not there yet. He's only been consistent for half his career and he still has more seasons of play at this level before he can be considered in my book. This post is simply saying Eli isn't a Hall of Fame QB right now. We'll see in four or five years.