The NFC East as a whole has produced some of the best quarterbacks of the Super Bowl Era. Donovan McNabb, Joe Theismann, Troy Aikman, and Phil Simms are only a few of the greats to come out of this division. The greatest quarterback to come out of this division during the Super Bowl era is none other than New York Giants signal caller Eli Manning. I will first present the greatest quarterback from each team in the division (from Super Bowl era) and then compare them to Eli Manning at the end.
Eli Manning: Greatest NFC East Quarterback in the Super Bowl Era
Eagles fans were very happy having signal caller Donovan McNabb under center for ten seasons. During this time, he led them to one Super Bowl appearance and was a six-time Pro Bowler. He was as dangerous throwing the ball as he was on his feet, amassing an incredible 3,459 yards rushing for his career. He has a career completion percentage of 59 percent, 37,276 passing yards, 234 passing touchdowns, 91 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 85.6. Although these are good numbers, McNabb had never surpassed 4,000 passing yards in a single season or 30 passing touchdowns.
In the post-season, McNabb is not as good as in the regular season. He has played 16 post-season games amassing a 9-7 record. McNabb completed 59.1 percent of his passes with 3,752 yards, 24 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 80.0. The playoffs are what define a quarterback’s legacy, and McNabb was an average quarterback in the playoffs. Donovan McNabb may be one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best, in the Philadelphia Eagles history, but he is not the best to exit the NFC East.
Unlike the Eagles, the Redskins have not had their fair share of great quarterbacks in the Super Bowl Era. Kirk Cousins may be their best quarterback of this era and he has only played two full seasons. However, most Redskins fans would agree that Joe Theismann is their best quarterback in the Super Bowl Era. After starting his Redskins career as a punt returner, he converted to their full-time quarterback and never looked back. He held a career completion percentage of 56.7 percent, 25,206 passing yards, 160 touchdowns, 138 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 77.4. He only had over 3,000 passing yards three times in his entire career. Although he had one MVP season, he only had two Pro Bowl appearances. He had some great seasons as a signal caller, but he never was a dominant one for a prolonged period of time.
Troy Aikman vs. Roger Staubach
It was a tough decision deciding which Cowboys quarterback is their best one, but I gave the nod to Aikman. I know not every Cowboy fan will like this decision. Aikman led the Cowboys to three Super Bowls and was a six-time Pro Bowler. Roger Staubach was a great quarterback, but he was more of a back end top ten quarterback in his era. He did have two seasons when he was in the top five for passing yards and passing touchdowns, but most of the time he was in the eight or nine range. Although Aikman was similar to Staubach in that sense, he was more dominant in the postseason. This, in my opinion, gives him the nod over Staubach.
Troy Aikman was a very good quarterback in the NFL, however, he was never as dominant of a passer as some other greats he played with. For example, John Elway, Dan Marino, and Warren Moon all passed for 4,000 yards at least once in their NFL career. However, Aikman in his best season only threw for 3,445 yards. This shows that although he was an above average quarterback, he never put up similar stats to the best during his time. Aikman also only threw for over 20 touchdowns in a single season one time. His career stats were 32,942 yards, 165 touchdowns, 141 interceptions, a completion percentage of 61.5 and a QB rating of 81.6. He, similarly to Eli Manning, was just a proven winner. He is 3-0 in the Super Bowl and has a quarterback rating of 111.9. This shows that he would perform when it mattered the most.
Aikman also had the best running back of his generation for the majority of his career. Emmitt Smith was the best running back in the league during Aikman’s playing days. This alleviated a lot of the pressure off of Aikman and allowed him to throw to one of the best receivers during his time Michael Irvin. Even with all of this help around him, his statistics do not show a player who dominated on the field week in and week out.
Now this will make even some of the older Giants fans upset. Phil Simms is a two-time Super Bowl champion (one time as starting quarterback) and two-time Pro Bowler. Simms had a very successful career, passing for 33,462 yards, 199 touchdowns, and 157 interceptions with a career quarterback rating of 78.5. He had a stretch of three seasons when he was at his best (1984-1986) and had a few other seasons in which he played well. However, Simms was never dominant for a prolonged period of time.
Simms was always a good quarterback who was able to produce on the field, but was never as important to the team as other quarterbacks. This was proven in the 1990 Super Bowl. The Giants were able to win this Super Bowl with their backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler. To win a Super Bowl is a hard enough feat, but to do it without your starting quarterback shows just how good your defense and the rest of the team is. This shows that although Simms was valuable, he was not the most important player on this team.
Now onto the two-time Super Bowl MVP and champion Eli Manning. He came into the league with high expectations, something he has easily surpassed. After a few solid seasons, he led the Giants to a Super Bowl victory against the undefeated New England Patriots. This was when the world first saw how cool and calm under center Manning really is. After this Super Bowl victory, he had a stretch of four of his best seasons, one in which he eclipsed 4,900 passing yards. Although after his second Super Bowl victory, he had found some late career resurgence. For his career, he has 48,214 passing yards, 320 touchdowns, 215 interceptions, a completion percentage of 59.7 (should go over 60% before his career ends) and a quarterback rating of 83.7.
Eli Manning in the postseason is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time. What he has done is nothing short of magical. He led the New York Giants on two Super Bowl runs, which include over 2,000 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and only two interceptions. These two Super Bowls are important to the legacy of Eli Manning. They show how successful he can play in the most pressured situations. He has the clutch gene that many quarterbacks are missing, winning as the underdog in most of his playoff games. Manning has shown how critical he is to the Giants success. He has cycled through many different receivers and has always produced regardless of who was catching his passes.
Eli Manning has been a top quarterback this generation. When compared to the greatest quarterbacks from the NFC East during the Super Bowl era, he shows that he is the top of the group. When his career is over, he will be remembered as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play football. Eli Manning has had his fair share of bad decisions. However, he has proved he is one of the better quarterbacks to play the game.