Is Eli Frontrunner for the MVP?
You may have missed it, but there was a stimulating back-and-forth on ESPN on whether Eli Manning should be the frontrunner for this year's MVP. The debaters were Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, Rob Parker and Eric Mangini. The main attraction of the show, of course, is usually Stephen A. vs. Bayless, which usually becomes as one-sided as the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals with guess who being the Trotters.
Mostly the debate turned into a discussion of whether Eli was the "clutchest" -- Stephen A's word -- or if he had more "clutchness" -- Skip's expression -- than any other QB in the NFL. Bayless's assertion that Eli, in terms of clutch play, was "the Michael Jordan of football" was not a bad one.
Between the two of them, though, the point was lost: Should Eli be the frontrunner for this year's MVP? Rob Parker's opinion was an adamant No way, no how!: "His numbers just aren't good enough -- 12 touchdowns, 7 picks." An MVP, Parker maintained, should be more consistent. Parker had another good point: "Most of these comebacks have happened against bad teams. He's beaten only one good team this year. It was a very good team, the 49ers, I give you that, but . . ."
Then it was left for Eric Mangini, the show's quiet man, to inject a note of calm common sense. "The reason Eli's in so many of these clutch situations is stuff that happens in the first half . . ." Or stated another way, if Eli wants to win an MVP award, he's got to stop saving games which he put himself in position to lose.
And let me add another point. Manning did not "beat" Robert Griffin III last Sunday. The Giants offense beat the Washington Redskins defense when Eli, late in the game, found Victor Cruz, of all people, wide open on the sideline for a 77-yard TD pass. If you're looking for a really solid MVP candidate, a guy who is doing well not because of his team but in spite of it, look no further than RG3, who, playing on an otherwise mediocre team, is leading the league with a whopping 8.47 yds/throw and has thrown 7 TD passes to 2 Ints. So far he's headed towards the greatest rookie season of any rookie quarterback in NFL history.