Eli Manning returned to quarterbacking the New York Giants on Monday night and what was immediately apparent is that he's now in the backup phase of his career. Manning has said he wants to keep playing beyond this season. If that's the case, he needs to accept and embrace a reserve role.
Manning was completely average in his return to action. He didn't lose the game for the Giants, but he certainly didn't help his team win it in a 23-17 overtime loss. While there may be some gas left in his tank, it's not enough for him to be a full-time starter at this time in his career.
Against the Eagles, Manning completed 15 of 30 passes for 203 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating for the game was 94.2, but his QBR was a woeful 13.4. After a good start to the game, Manning fell apart in the second half.
After completing 11 of 19 passes for 179 and two touchdowns before the break, he went 4-for-11 for 24 yards in the second half. The Giants failed to score in the second half or overtime.
Manning has been on the downslope for years and that wasn't suddenly going to change because he sat behind Daniel Jones for a few weeks. It's worth remembering this is a guy who was never an elite quarterback -- even in the best of times. He's no longer a starter in the league. But his life as an NFL quarterback doesn't need to end.
There's nothing wrong with being a backup quarterback in the NFL, some very talented guys have made careers out of it. Manning has the experience to be an ideal mentor to a young quarterback and probably has enough juice left to step in and play a few games if there's an injury. That is the best role he can hope for at this point.
Manning will turn 39 in January and he needs to be realistic. If he's serious about continuing to play football, he can either sign up with the XFL or learn to embrace being a No.2 .