Every Giants fan appreciates what Eli Manning has delivered to the franchise: two shiny Super Bowl trophies in the lobby of the team’s headquarters near MetLife Stadium.
And every Giants fan has had moments when Manning simply is maddening.
For guidance on what to make of Eli as he approaches his 35th birthday, let us turn to Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts, who will work Sunday’s Jets-Giants showdown as an analyst for CBS alongside play-by-play man Ian Eagle.
“All you need to do is look at that fourth quarter [against the Redskins Sunday],” Fouts said from his home in Oregon. “Down by 20 and you see there’s no quit in him. You see a lot of fight, smart throws, going back to [Rueben] Randle after Randle had had a rough day, then putting the ball in spots where only [Odell] Beckham can get to it.
“As far as what I see in him? I see a guy that is a great quarterback.”
With Manning’s older brother Peyton now at or near the end of his career, there has been much discussion of his legacy. Fouts said it is beside the point to think such thoughts about Eli at this stage.
“I think the last thing a quarterback is worried about is his legacy,” Fouts said. “I mean, the thing that’s right in front of you is the tree. You’re not looking at the forest here. You get that talk a lot and it makes for good conversation, but at this point in the season and this point in his career it’s a fight. It’s a fight every week.
“There’s a lot of quarterbacks out there you don’t want to be in that position with. With Eli you feel comfortable in that position.”
Manning has about two years of age in addition to the two Lombardi Trophies on his counterpart Sunday, the Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fouts did not use the word “great” when discussing Fitzpatrick, but he has been impressed with him.
“Last week with the pressure building on him he executed a game plan that was simple and yet he didn’t mess it up,” Fouts said. “You saw that [Brandon] Marshall had single coverage on [the Dolphins’] Brent Grimes and he fed him the ball a bunch of times and it all worked out.
“He’s smart. He knows his limitations. He’s gutty almost to a fault as far as [not] sliding and that concerns me a little bit, but I talked to him about it and he said it’s an old habit and it’s hard to break. He’s a fighter – all these positive qualities that are important to the position.”
Overall, Fouts said, he considers the game “a tossup because of the difficulties both these teams have had. That’s what kind of levels things out – the fact you really don’t know which of the two teams are going to show up.
“The thing that concerns me most about the matchup is the offensive line of the Giants against this front seven of the Jets that likes to blitz a lot. You’ve got inexperience and guys in different positions.”
This will be Fouts’ first Jets-Giants game. What does he expect?
“Well, from what my advance scouts say the Giants crowd is always a little bit more boisterous than the Jets crowd,” he said.
Um, really? That is not what many New York sports fans would say.
“Maybe it’s inside foof,” Fouts said. “I’m anxious to feel the vibe.”