With Window Closing, the Time Is Now for Eli Manning to Capitalize

Eli Manning

With the New York Giants locking up Odell Beckham Jr. to a lucrative contract along with their first-round draft pick Saquon Barkley returning to the practice field, it was a good week for the Giants and their fans.

The person perhaps most excited about all this good news is Giants veteran quarterback Eli Manning.

Considering Manning is back under center with a new and improved offensive line along with all of his weapons healthy and at his disposal, he has just about all that he wants to put last season’s debacle in the rear-view mirror while trying to recapture some old past glory.

After last season’s debacle in which he was benched for Geno Smith—and ending his streak of starting in 210 consecutive games—Manning is approaching this season as one of redemption.

At 37, Manning is showing signs of wear and tear though, and the window is clearly closing in on him. However, the circumstances couldn’t be any better for him to give New York and its fans another title.

In other words, it’s carpe diem for Manning.

There isn’t a better scenario for Manning to go out in a blaze of glory than what has been set up for him right now. Suffice it to say, he’ll have a lot to say in how he wants to be remembered and it won’t be because of a subpar supporting cast.

A lot of Manning’s potential success will be predicated on how the new revamped offensive line comes together. Gone from last season’s team are Justin Pugh, D.J. Fluker, and Weston Richburg and in their place will be vets left tackle Nate Solder, guard Patrick Omameh, as well as second-round draft pick Will Hernandez.

If Manning has time to make his reads and is able to stay upright, he could be a very effective quarterback.

On paper, the line has been significantly upgraded and with the weapons he has at his disposal—namely Beckham and Barkley as well as wide receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram—Manning has to seize the opportunity he has in front of him.

In fact, ex-Steelers’ coach and current CBS NFL analyst Bill Cowher believes Manning has all he needs to have one more fairy-tale run in him.

Cowher recently did a Q and A with the New York Post’s Justin Terranova and had this to say about Manning as he enters his 15th year in the NFL:

Q: Why do you think Manning will be a different quarterback this season?
A: A different quarterback because it’s a different philosophy. When you look at when he went to the Super Bowls, what was the premise of their offense: running the football, play action. Now he is with someone in Pat Shurmur who understands that. I love adding Nate Solder. (Saquon) Barkley can give you big plays any time he touches the ball, Evan Engram can stretch the field, and Odell, you know what he can do when he has the ball in his hands. I love the philosophy they are going to have and the components they are going into the season with. If they can stay healthy on the offensive line, these are all the weapons Eli had when he was winning championships.

That’s some high praise from Cowher, but there is some truth to his statements.

Manning, who has been put through the ringer while being under the harsh spotlight of the New York media, knows how to handle adversity and pressure. He was ever so cool under pressure in delivering the Giants two Super Bowl championships en route to winning two Super Bowl MVP’s.

That said, Manning and the Giants have been a shell of their former selves since they last won the Super Bowl.

Since their last Super Bowl championship, the Giants have had only two winning campaigns in the last six years, while compiling a paltry 42-54 record. After last year’s tumultuous 3-13 campaign, a whole lot of things will have to click for the Giants to be a major player in the NFC this season.

That all being said, the stars are all but all aligning for Manning this season. He couldn’t have asked for a better supporting cast—at least in terms from what he has had to play with while with the Giants.

With a renewed sense of optimism under a new coaching staff led by head coach Pat Shurmur, along with a new and improved offensive line, plus all the weapons any quarterback would dream of, Manning is facing a now-or-never type season to capitalize on his remaining and dwindling chances.

It remains to be seen if that will result in ultimate glory. For now, though, Manning has to be excited with the chance to go out in style and under his terms.

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Dan Stack has been writing and reporting about sports since 2003, but has been dabbling in journalism ever since his days when writing for his college newspaper, The Pioneer (LIU C.W. Post) back in 1995. He comes to Last Word on Sports after having previously worked at FanRag Sports where he was a college basketball analyst, as well as lead recruiting analyst for both college football and basketball. Stack also worked at BleacherReport.com (where he wrote about fantasy football and college basketball, while amassing over one million page views), Fanball.com (he ran a blog for the Pittsburgh Steelers-SteelersMill.com), FantasyPros911.com (wrote about fantasy football and baseball), SNYGiants.com (New York Giants coverage), NYGiantsRush.com, Mets360.com (Mets baseball coverage), CollegeHoopsNet.com, RotoWire.com (fantasy baseball beat writer) and Sportsmedia101.com (where he wrote and blogged at Knicks101.com). He is also a senior writer for WeAreDePaul.com, and has written and reported on the DePaul men's basketball program since 2003. He has covered many Big East games on the east coast and has been a regular at the Big East Tournament for more than a decade. Prior to his online sports writing career, Stack was also the Managing Editor of his county's weekly newspaper, the Rockland County Times, from 2007 to 2009. He has a BA degree from C.W. Post with a major in broadcasting and a minor in journalism. At Post, he not only wrote for the school newspaper, but also was a DJ at the school's radio station (WCWP) and was a crew member for Post TV (the University's TV Station). If want to hear rumblings on college basketball, fantasy sports, New York fandom an other random pop culture musings, be sure to follow him on Twitter @Stacdemon


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