Eli Manning's struggles against Vikings continue
For some reason, Eli Manning just can’t perform against the Minnesota Vikings. Monday night was the latest example in a career that now features eight games against the NFC North team, with Manning yet to record 300 yards or multiple touchdowns in a single meeting, and only one game in which has he managed to top a 60 percent completion rate or 80.0 passer rating.
Monday night saw the Vikings yet again come out on top against Manning, who is now 2-6 against them for his career and 97-81 against all other teams (105-84 including playoffs).
The Vikings have managed to stifle Manning a variety of different ways over his career, which is only natural given that they have featured several different coaching staffs, schemes, and groups of playing personnel. On Monday night, he was only pressured on 22.2 percent of his dropbacks—one of the better figures in the league this week, from the QB’s perspective, albeit a slight uptick on the 19.5 percent he had experienced heading into this game.
On those 10 snaps under pressure, he had a passer rating of 0.0, and completed just three passes for 13 yards, throwing his interception on one such play. What’s notable is that even when kept clean, he wasn’t performing well, either. When the Vikings didn’t pressure him, his passer rating was just 84.0, and when they didn’t blitz, it was 81.2. Manning couldn’t deal with the variety of looks the Vikings showed, and when he was blitzed or pressured, he couldn’t find anywhere to go with the football.
Manning has always been an inconsistent QB. Even in his best season of 2011—a performance that ultimately led to his second Super Bowl victory—he had ugly, off games during the regular season. Against Seattle that year, he threw three interceptions and posted an overall game grade of 41.2, in stark contrast to his season grade of 90.9 that year.
Throughout his career, Manning’s games against Minnesota have always tended to be ugly. In 2013, he had his lone half-decent performance. In Week 7 of that season, he completed 23 of 39 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, avoiding an interception and posting a passer rating of 81.1, the highest of his career against Minnesota. That’s about 10 points lower than the average passer rating of all QBs in the NFL this season, and it represents Manning’s high-water mark against the Vikings. The best he has managed against that franchise over the past decade plus has been a below-average day.
Against the Vikings, Eli has two games with overall grades in the 30.0s, two more in the 40.0s, three in the 50.0s, and then the lone 81.3 from that 2013 game. He has averaged just 202 passing yards, and one more interception per game than touchdowns, of which he has thrown only five in eight games. His average completion percentage is just 56.0, and he has 15 total interceptions.
One of his eight encounters with Minnesota came back in 2005, a season that PFF has yet to grade, but that game saw him throw four picks, complete less than 50 percent of his passes, and end with a passer rating of 39.5, so it’s unlikely to pick his grade up too much.
The idea of a team that always has your number seems like something akin to superstition, with no real logical explanation for it once you begin to move beyond specific schemes or personnel that swing the matchup in one direction, but Eli Manning has clearly struggled against the Vikings far more than other teams, and that shows no sign of changing given the current situations both teams are in.
The Giants are now 2-2, 1.5 games back from the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, while the Vikings move to 4-0, and sit as one of only three undefeated teams.
The good news for Manning is that the Giants, outside of Monday night’s game, have looked vastly improved this season, and Philadelphia will likely suffer a regression at some point during the year. The prospect of a playoff berth this season, therefore, is still there to be chased. The bad news is that the Vikings have a 1.5-game lead in their own division with a victory over the Green Bay Packers already this season, so there is a chance that any playoff run may feature a second encounter with Minnesota.
If that does indeed come to pass, the Giants will need to sort out Manning’s funk against the Vikings and find a way for him to perform, because so far he has struggled against the men in purple.