Eli Manning's High Interception Totals are Overrated

July 11, 2017

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

To the average NFL fan, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a rich man's version of Jay Cutler, with a couple of (lucky, defensive-led) championships to his name.

While that's certainly an unfair assessment, the ghost of interceptions past is what has haunted Manning's legacy for years - even with his playoff pedigree.

But is the interception really as bad of a statistic as we make it out to be?

Sure, giving the ball away to the opponent isn't ideal, but the source of an interception is one based on the risk of taking a chance at making a big play (almost all of the time).

Interceptions don't come when a team runs a screen, a play that is all about being conservative and taking little risk as possible.

Interceptions come when a quarterback is trying to stretch the field and make something happen.

Typical "game managers" include players like Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, and Tyrod Taylor - all three limiting mistakes in order to keep their team "in the game".

But the interesting trend among "game managers" is the fact that playoff success isn't there, because a quarterback is most likely going to need to make a big throw at some point in a big game.

In the two biggest games of Manning's career, Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI, passes to David Tyree and Mario Manningham are what changed the outcome of both games.

Not only would we not expect a player like Smith or Dalton to complete those passes, but I think we could say with certainty that they probably wouldn't even attempt those throws.

Interestingly enough during the 2011 season for Manning, a year in which Pro Football Focus deemed the greatest quarterbacked postseason they have ever registered, Manning averaged the highest yards per attempt of his career (8.38).

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

This just so happened to be the same season Victor Cruz tricked us all into believing he was one of the game's biggest threats - that opinion lasted about three minutes.

That season, Manning threw more interceptions than he would throw in three of the next four seasons of his career, yet, he had his most success because he was taking chances.

Let's also realize that Manning isn't the only accomplished quarterback who has thrown a ton of career interceptions.

Players like John Elway, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Drew Brees find their names among the top 20 career leaders in intercepted passes.

Those five also find themselves among the top six all-time in career yards passing.

Getting rid of the ball quicker also limits the chance of taking hits and sustaining injury.

And for anyone who has watched a player like (Eli) Manning throughout his career, whenever he feels pressure, he leans on his back foot and lets it fly, either alluding a hit or preparing himself for one.

In baseball, the equivalent to an interception would probably be a strikeout.

These days, hitters have no shame in committing a strikeout because of the risk they are taking to hit more home runs.

At the moment, baseball is on pace for more home runs than they've ever had in a single season, according to the New York Times.

While at the same time, starring at 10 hitters who already have 100 strikeouts at the All-Star break.

Could we soon see a league where interceptions are viewed similarly as a strikeout?

Well, with the potential that lies with throwing the ball downfield and making plays, taking more risks should start to be considered.

And look no further than Eli Manning, a player who is top 10 all-time in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completions to prove that theory legitimate.

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