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BY D’MITRI CHIN
For the sixth time in seven years, the New York Giants are watching instead of participating when it comes to the NFL playoffs. If they want to change that pattern, they have a plethora of decisions to make, especially after suffering another horrendous season that ended with a last-place finish in the NFC East after a 5-11 record, and Eli Manning should be the first out the door.
No question, the Giants have many issues: A terrible offensive line, a pedestrian ground game . . .
Their biggest is a declining quarterback, but it hasn't mattered.
Somehow, Manning has managed to avoid losing his job despite contributing the most to the Giants’ turmoil. When he was benched two years ago for Geno Smith to snap his streak of 210 consecutive starts, former head coach Ben McAdoo got fired at the end of the season, but Manning remained.
Worse, Peyton’s little brother continued to start.
As a die-hard fan of the organization since 1999, I refuse to support general manager Dave Gettleman's logic that Manning has 'still got it' for many reasons.
Numbers don't lie
Since Manning grabbed his second Super Bowl title in 2011, his 15-season career has steadily declined, but let's focus on his statistics from the last three years. His biggest flaw always has been his decision making, leading the NFL in interceptions twice in his career (2010, 2013). From 2016 through last season, he had 54 picks.
Another glaring issue for Manning is his inability to escape the pocket. He never was good at putting defenders on skates, but he had his stretches. Even so, he has lost his magic from Super Bowl XLVI, when he dodged several New England Patriots defenders to find David Tyree for what is famously known as The Helmet Catch -- my most memorable moment as a Giants fan. Since then, Manning has been sacked 240 times, according to profootballreference.com.
The modern-day speed of the NFL is overwhelming for Manning, especially since the Giants’ offensive line is not up to par. That’s an awful combination, but the line can be enhanced by management with a few tweaks here and there. Manning, not so much. He’s 38 years old, and he’s the least athletic quarterback in the league.
A waste of great talent
Here’s another thing. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and running back Saquon Barkley are two of the NFL's brightest young stars. How long that will last is contingent on the Giants’ plan at the quarterback position.
Beckham heavily relies on Manning to become the explosive wideout that he is, but he can’t do so when the other guy is so wildly inconsistent with throws. In 12 games last season, Manning connected with Beckham on just three passes over 40 yards. That statistic was the result of Manning often giving up on a play when he senses the least bit of pressure from something like a 300-pound defensive lineman who runs a faster 40-yard dash than the quarterback himself.
Then there is Barkley, whom many have compared to Barry Sanders because of his ability to break tackles effortlessly. Running backs have a short shelf life, and Manning is adding more mileage than necessary on Barkley by causing him to overexert himself in the passing game. Barkley broke the NFL record for most receptions (91) by a rookie running back this season, and it was largely due to Manning simply checking down when he was considered to be in trouble. Forcing the ball to Barkley unnecessarily is bound to backfire at some point.
That said, the Giants need a quarterback who can extend plays and utilize his playmakers to their advantage.
The future quarterback lies in this year's draft
Ohio State sensation Dwayne Haskins has declared for the NFL Draft, and the Giants must act on the opportunity to draft him. He would excite the fan base. In fact, he already has flirted with the idea of playing in the Meadowlands for an NFC team with a picture of himself in a Giants jersey on his Instagram story. The caption said, "Don’t let me go back to the crib." Haskins was born and raised in Highland Park, New Jersey, just 37 minutes from MetLife Stadium -- home of the Giants and Jets.
If the Giants drafted Haskins, it would bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to an organization that desperately needs to get back to its winning ways. Imagine Haskins, Beckham and Barkley in an offensive huddle. Add dynamic tight end Evan Engram and solid wide receiver Sterling Shepard to the equation, and New York is suddenly a prolific football team again. But it all starts with Haskins, because he already has proven with the Buckeyes that he is capable of making plays by completing 70 percent of his passes (415/590) for 5,396 yards and 54 touchdowns. Even more impressive is that he only threw nine interceptions in his two years at Ohio State.
So you know what I want as part of the Giants Nation.
D’Mitri Chin is a junior majoring in journalism with a minor in speech communication at Georgia State University. He is the former associate sports editor for The Signal, and he is currently a freelance sports reporter. He is also a contributor to The Douglas County Sentinel. In his spare time, D’Mitri enjoys lifting weights and playing basketball. You can follow D’Mitri on Twitter @1DMitriChin.