Following the Giants' embarrassing loss against the Cowboys on Sunday, many football fans are wondering if Eli Manning's massive contract extension was a mistake. However, despite Manning's poor game-clock management in the first week, there are plenty of reasons to still be excited about the two-time Super-Bowl-winning quarterback.
Before the start of the 2015 regular season, the New York Giants signed Manning to a four-year, $84 million contract deal, making him the fourth highest-paid player in the league.
Although the new deal will reduce his 2015 salary from $17 million to $5.5 million (essentially opening more salary cap space to be carried into 2016), the contract extension includes a $31 million signing bonus.
In 2014, the Giants (under the direction of new Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo) installed a new offense, and Manning prospered.
The Giants' offense finished 10th in the league last year, up 18 spots from 2013. This is, in part, hugely due to Manning's stellar stats, despite a poor W-L record.
McAdoo's training techniques focus heavily on mechanics in the offseason, and this proved to be just what Manning needed. It cut the quarterback's interceptions nearly in half, as compared to the previous season.
In 2014, Manning proved he was worth his elite quarterback salary by throwing 30 touchdown passes for a total of 4,410 yards.
Along with this much-improved TD percentage, Manning's INT percentage was down to only 2.3, the second lowest of his career.
I don't see any reason to suspect Manning's play will be any worse than it was last year. If anything, he'll have more time to complete passes, due to the offensive line being far healthier than it was in 2014.
In the recent past, Manning has made crucial mistakes due to poor decision-making (i.e. throwing deep into double coverage more times than necessary), but this is partially due to heavy pressure and having less time to throw the ball.
I'd argue the Giant's subpar performances in the recent years have little to do with Manning's passing abilities. They have more to do with a severely injured and inadequate offensive line.
If there's one thing Giants fans can be optimistic about after Sunday's dramatic loss, it's the offensive line that finally, after several injury-ridden years, did an excellent job of protecting Manning and giving him time to hit his targets.
Manning completed several key passes and would have had a few more, if it hadn't been for three crucial third-down drops by WR Preston Parker.
I don't see any reason to believe Eli Manning isn't worth the four-year contract extension he signed last Friday.
Yes, he may be on the older end as far as NFL quarterbacks go, but he's with new coaching, which has already proven to be effective in 2014.
He is surrounded by an improved and much healthier offensive line. A receiving duo like Victor Cruz (when healthy) and Odell Beckham, Jr. could be one of the best in football. Due to all these reasons, Manning's chances at success (or at least a winning season) are high.
Right now, there isn't a better option in New York. And, quite frankly, there isn't a team in the NFL that wouldn't give Eli Manning this type of deal.
With better pass protection, smart play-calling and overall game management, the Giants could be looking to have a very good season.