Up until now, I hadn’t touched the whole “Eli Manning has a tired arm” thing. It wasn’t something I had noticed on my own on film, and I never went back to look and see if his passes were missing velocity, and/or depth.
On NFL Network this morning, they showed Eli’s post-game press conference, in which he addressed the tired arm:
“I never thought my arm was tired… After a week off and coming back to practice it felt good. It felt live. The ball seemed to be coming out with a little extra pop on it. So that’s always good. I think that’s kind of natural after a week off of not throwing much… It definitely needed a little rest.”
I suppose that quote can be interpreted a number of different ways, but to me, it reads like an acknowledgement that there was indeed something to the whole”tired arm” thing, which originated from NFL Film’s Greg Cosell and Ron Jaworski (via Evan Silva of PFT):
“Ron Jaworski and I were having this conversation this week,” Cosell said. “I looked at Eli on Monday; Jaws looked at Eli on Wednesday. And he made a very interesting comment. It really struck me, and I would defer to Jaws on this because I’ve never taken snaps in the NFL. … It looks to him like Eli’s arm is a little tired. And that he’s not driving the ball at the intermediate and deeper levels the way we’ve come to expect. Because Eli has a strong arm.
“And we even got that sort of confirmed by someone who’s a lot closer to the situation. His arm’s a little bit tired right now. He’s missed some throws that he would normally make.”
Personally, like Cosell, I can’t comment on what “tired arm” feels like. I was never a QB, a starting pitcher in baseball, or anything like that. However, in watching Sunday night’s Giants-Packers game, some of Eli’s throws showed a lack of arm strength, that again, in being in agreement with Cosell and Jaworski, we’re used to seeing Eli make.
The most glaring one was a deep ball to Hakeem Nicks with 13:35 left in the 2nd quarter. The Giants ran play action out of the shotgun, and Eli had a perfectly clean pocket. Note the depth of Eli’s drop. He plants his back foot at the 30:
He had the opportunity to really step into this throw (note where Eli is when he releases this pass in comparison to where he planted on his drop):
Nicks was open deep, but this pass was an ugly, wounded duck that Eli underthrew by a good 5 yards. Nicks was forced to slow up (which you can’t really see in the below still shot), and the Packers’ defensive backs were able to make the play:
A perfect ball here would have led Nicks to about the 20 yard line. Eli left it about 5 yards short at the 25.
Here’s another one. This pass was actually more of a short-intermediate throw, but because of the tight window he’s trying to fit it into, Eli tries to put a little extra on it. Again, clean pocket, and Eli has the chance to step into the throw:
It’s so inaccurate that he not only throws behind Nicks, but he also throws it behind the trailing DB. If the pass were actually a little more on target, this could have been picked:
It wasn’t all terrible though. There was one pass that he couldn’t step into, and was all arm. BJ Raji pushes the guard back into Eli:
But Eli is able to deliver an on-target pass that traveled 20+ yards that has enough zip to get to Nicks:
The Giants absolutely dismantled the Packers last night, and Eli’s numbers were good: 16 of 30, 249 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT. I can almost guarantee that after a quick google search, you’ll be able to find at least a dozen articles this morning that say, “So much for that whole ‘Eli’s arm is tired’ nonsense.” Chances are those articles will not site any specific throws Eli made last night to squash that notion.
He really only had to make 3 throws all night that required “+ arm strength,” and he missed two of them… badly. Eli Manning will be fine, and I think his struggles over the the last three weeks were a little overblown. However, I wouldn’t exactly say that last night’s performance was some sort of indication that his right arm suddenly morphed back into a cannon.