Stop the presses: Eli Manning is at it again.
After a solid performance against the Houston Texans last Sunday, Manning followed it up with an even better one Thursday night in Washington, completing 28 of his 39 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Eli even ran for a score, you know, for good measure.
With the 45-14 win over Washington, the Giants have won their past two games by a combined score of 75-31. Manning has thrown for over 500 yards in those two victories, as well as six touchdowns and just one interception. Against Houston and Washington Manning completed just over 73 percent of his passes, brining his season completion percentage to 66.9.
Watching Manning play tells you even more of the story. For the first time in a long time, he looks cool in the pocket, unflustered by the chaos around and in front of him. A lot of that has to do with his offensive line, which after a dismal opening performance in Detroit and a mediocre showing against Arizona has been flat-out dominant in Big Blue’s two wins. According to the New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano, after taking nine hits in the Giants season opener against the Lions, Manning has been hit just four times since, and only twice in the past two games.
There’s no doubt the offensive line has showed significant improvement in these few weeks, and Ben McAdoo’s quick-release offense has helped immensely. Manning was 20-of-27 on passes of 10 yards or less, including each of his four touchdown passes, according to ESPN Stats & Info. That seemed to be what Manning struggled with most during the preseason, but it appears as his offensive line has gained a rhythm and allowed him to get the ball out faster to quick developing routes. He’s also thrown just one interception over the last two games—and even pick, which looked like a touchdown to Rueben Randle before being knocked loose, was borderline at best—compared to four in his first two.
Establishing the run has also been a key factor in opening up the pass for Manning and his receivers. Rashad Jennings hardly repeated his 176-yard performance, but looked solid with 66 yards on 15 carries for a 4.4 yards-per-carry average. Rookie Andre Williams even got in on the act, spelling Jennings with 55 yards on 13 carries of his own. This rushing attack shows just how much the offensive line has improved since Week 1 and forced both Houston and Washington to stack the box against it.
All of this means, after two games, that Eli Manning’s various critics have been silenced, at least for now. He proved in Week 2 against Arizona that he was up to the task, but the men surrounding him weren’t. Following two consecutive dominating victories, it’s clear the Giants are more than most expected them to be, and Manning’s at the head of the resurgence.