Blog Entry

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

Posted on: February 2, 2012 1:53 am
Peyton might be congratulating Eli for a few different reasons at some point. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- There's a fun little theory floating around Indy this week: Eli Manning will be better than Peyton Manning if he wins his second Super Bowl. That's ridiculous. Peyton's better, and it's not close. But Eli can be better, and there's a good chance he will when everything's said and done.

This isn't meant to disparage Peyton, because he's the face of this town and arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Quarterback wins -- and Super Bowl wins especially -- are a superficial stat designed to skew reality. Instead, let's focus (somewhat hypocritically?) on the possibility that Eli could catch Peyton in the all-important counting stats like passing yards, touchdowns and, um, wins.

Quick warning: if you're not a fan of hypotheticals, and hate the idea of averaging out quarterback success based on historical performance, go ahead and skip to the comments and call me a jerk.

Here are their stats as it stands today:

Manning Bro
Passing Yards
54,828 399/198 141-67
27,579 185-129 69-50

It's not a contest. Hopefully even non-math majors can figure that out. But Peyton's also four years older than Eli, and spent an additional year in the league as a starter; Eli started just seven games his rookie year (Peyton got all 16).

They combined to win just four of those 23 games, but that's beside the point -- Peyton threw for 3,739 yards in his 16 starts while Eli threw for just 1,043 in his seven. Eli would've compiled just 2,384 yards if he played a full rookie season based on those averages. Peyton set the record for most attempts by a rookie (and had the most attempts in 1998 by any quarterback in the NFL) until Sam Bradford broke it in 2010. He had the record for most passing yards by a rookie until Cam Newton shattered it in 2011.

Espouse the whole "Peyton was more ready" argument you want, but it's silly. Eli didn't start, and Peyton won all of three games. The Colts were dreadful, so it's a pointless argument. Peyton also led the league in interceptions.

Whatever, let's wipe away their rookie season and see what they average over the course of their career, understanding that Eli needs to literally double up his passing yards and wins to catch Peyton and not lead the league in interceptions like he has two times in his career. Peyton did that just once: his rookie season.

Manning Bro
Average Pass Yards
Average TD/INT
Average W-L
4,257 31/14 11.5/4.5
3,791 26/17 9.7/6.3

Peyton in a landslide, right? Yes indeed, in so far as career goes. But things are more interesting than just "Peyton's season numbers crush Eli's." Because they do; that much is obvious with just a glance above.

But what happens if Peyton retires now? This is a very realistic, albeit not technically discussed, scenario. Were that to happen, Eli would need 7.19 years of his "average" (sans his rookie year) play to catch Peyton in total passing yards. In other words, Eli needs to average 3,791 passing yards per season for seven years to catch Peyton. It would take him 8.23 years to catch Peyton in touchdowns. And it would take 7.42 years for him to catch Peyton in wins.

It's not remotely realistic to assume that "Eli's career length = Peyton's career length," but we can at least run with the idea that these two guys, who happen to be brothers, will have similar career paths. Right? Right.

If Eli played the exact length of Peyton's career (right around four-something years), he'd be pretty freaking close in terms of all these statistics. He might -- again, might -- also have two Super Bowls.

Perhaps the most interesting comparison involves the last three years of Eli's play. In that time, he was 28, 29 and 30 years old. Let's get all "Player A and Player B" on you for this one:

Manning Bro
Avg Passing Yards
Manning Bro A
4,319 29/18 9.0/7.0
Manning Bro B
4,190 35/10 12.7/3.3

You probably figured it out from the win totals, I hope, but "Bro A" is Eli and "Bro B" is Peyton. Or maybe it was the interceptions, since Eli honked 25 of them in 2009. But passing yards? That's a stat that matters when people like to make objective arguments, and it's one that Eli's starting to win in his prime.

This is where it gets really fascinating to me. Peyton had, statistically speaking, the second-best year of his career in 2010. He threw for the most passing yards (4,700) in his tenure, and he threw for 33 touchdowns, which ties for the second-most teeters he's thrown, along with 2009 and 2000. (He threw for a stupid 49 in 2004.)

Eli's clearly coming into his own right now, and he's starting to hit his prime. And you realize that Peyton got better after those three years right? A combination of quarterback-friendly rules, high-octane offenses and his own abilities as a quarterback made his lowest passing total since 2006 4,002 yards. Eli laughs at that. Or, at least, Manning Bro A laughs at that.

It's just not that insane to assume that Eli, younger brother of Peyton, will enjoy a similar career arc to his big brother. And from there, the leap to realize that Eli could be better just isn't that big a jump.

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Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: February 2, 2012 8:46 pm

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton



Zero MVPS, zero top 5 finishes in fact

This award eliminates W-L.  It eliminates rule changes that skew statistics.  It eliminates fan voting.

It simply recognizes who was the single best player that season.  4 times Peyton was considered the best player in the NFL.

Eli has yet to finish in the top 5 best players in the NFL in any season.

It is probably the single greatest benchmark of Peyton's career that he won the MVP more than anyone else in history.

Since: Dec 9, 2008
Posted on: February 2, 2012 8:15 pm

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

Don't forget Peyton plays in a dome and for half of his career Eli played in the worst stadium for QBs, old Giants stadium.  The new stadium is much better but still outside in the NE.  Eli is great anyway you slice it!

Since: Jan 29, 2007
Posted on: February 2, 2012 7:59 pm

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

YHater1: That was a perfect analysis. Amen Brother... You sure you don't miss Kerry Collins?

Since: Jan 18, 2012
Posted on: February 2, 2012 5:31 pm

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

I have been a Giant fan since 1964 and have seen them all come and go.  Some I was sad to see go and many who I wished had left sooner.  That
said my top QBs are Francis, Phil and Eli in that order. 

To me Francis was the best of the three because he was able to win games without any useful teammates. He had to throw to guys they got off
the parking lot a Yankee Stadium Donnie Hermann and Clifton McNeil to name a few.  

Phil is next because he had great natural ability but his coach Bill Parcells said three things happen when you threw a football and two
of them were bad so he liked to run it.

Eli has been blessed with a team that has surrounded him with gifted offensive players and a coach who would allow him to throw the
ball. Eli is a gifted QB.

I would take Peyton every day and twice on Sunday over Eli.

Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: February 2, 2012 11:46 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

I agree that right now, there is no comparison, Peyton has been a GREAT QB and can still be great if he is able to come back.  Eli has been terribly frustrating at times (my friends and I refer to him as either Good Eli or Bad Eli - depending on the day).

All that said, I think it is important to mention 1 more thing with regard to these guys.  It is funny to me that this always seems to get overlooked.  Peyton has had consistency at WR, TE RB and OL over his entire career.  He had Marvin Harrison for years who was a great receiver and even had Reggie Wayne play with Marvin.  Now Reggie is the man, and he been there for years with Peyton.  Dallas Clark is a great TE, who has incredible hands and is an amazing possession guy.  So, Peyton has had an incredible run with consistency at WR and TE.  Forget about the great RBs he had (Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai and his rookie year he had Marshall Faulk). 

Eli has had a mixed bag since his career started with Giants and absolutely no consistency at those positions. Eli started with some solid parts (Tiki, Toomer, Burress, Shockey), however, over time those guys (with the exception of Toomer) proved to be heartless.  Eli did built up a rapport with those guys over the 4 years leading up to their Superbowl run in 2007.  Then…Plaxidental Shooting blew that to pieces (pun intended).  If you remember that team, before he shot himself, was 11-1 and was probably going to be a 11-5 or 12-4 team for years if they were able to hang together.  However after that incident, the team fall apart, Eli no longer had that guy he could rely on.  He had to build up a relationship with Steve Smith, and then…gone.  Bottom line, over the last 8 years, Eli has had some great weapons, but he did not have the time to build that rapport the way Peyton did.  If Eli is allowed to have 3, 4 or more years with this group of guys, he could be one of the best to ever play the game.  The talent is there, the preparation is there, will the guys be there?  In my opinion, this is the biggest difference between these brothers…

Since: Jun 16, 2010
Posted on: February 2, 2012 10:15 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

To compare Eli and Peyton is just ridiculous. Peyton will retire as one of the best to ever play the game. Nobody is saying that about Eli at this point. Im a huge Giants fan, but even Im not dumb enough to back these comments. Eli is proving to be a great quarterback in his own right. Maybe with the consistency and toughness (the guy just plays every week) he has shown so far he may eventually be a HOF. But, even if he eventually beats Peyton in total stats I dont think he will be considered better. In baseball they speak alot about compiling. Like Rafael Palmeiro, guys who have played so long that there stats just keep on adding up. Palmeiro would never be considered as the best to play his position. Though, when he retired and before the steroid controversy, there was alot speculation re: whether or not he was hall worthy. Compilng is something definately too consider. just because a player has better total carrer stats than another doesn't mean they were a better player.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: February 2, 2012 7:52 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

I agree fully that Eli is NOT in his brother's league yet.  This is like saying Big Ben is better
than Peyton because of the Super Bowl rings.  Big Ben 2-1, Peyton 1-1 in the big game. 
Look at the defenses that Eli and Big Ben have had.  Sorry but when you can rush four and drop
seven like the Giants you should be winning playoff games.  Peyton and the Colts had a run
in their division that mirrors the Braves in baseball or the Red Wings in hockey.  A decade +
of dominance in a league full of roster turnover and free agency.  Is Eli a great quarterback and
improving, yes but is he as good as his big brother, not so much.  Peyton = 1st ballof HOF, Eli =

Since: Dec 4, 2011
Posted on: February 2, 2012 4:39 am

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

Any comparison between Peyton and Eli is idiotic at best. As a Giants fan, I have to say that Eli is great and I'm proud of his accomplishments this year, but Peyton is outstanding. There's no way both can be compared.

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