Eli Manning is off to an outstanding start for the NY Giants. The veteran, now in his 12th season, has thrown for 764 yards and four touchdowns in three games. Manning has not thrown an interception to date and he's completing 64.8 percent of his passes. New York is entering Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills with a 1-2 record, but Manning doesn't deserve much, or any, of the blame.
Despite all of the positives to his play early in 2015, it's possible that Manning hits a brick wall on Sunday. Why?
Blitzes. Plenty of Bills blitzes.
Seems like a pretty vague statement, right? It's not if you look at the blitzes, or lackthereof, that Manning has faced in 2015.
Through three games and 114 drop-backs, Manning has been blitzed 15 times according to Pro Football Focus. The Giants quarterback has only been blitzed on 7.6 percent of his drop-backs against the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins. It's unknown why Manning's first three opponents haven't blitzed much, but the limited number of blitzes have paid off for the opposing teams.
During the 15 drop-backs in which Manning was blitzed, he only completed eight of 14 passes (57.1%) for 54 yards. That breaks down to 3.9 yards per attempt and a quarterback rating of 65.8. One blitz resulted in a Manning run.
Manning's stats, unsurprisingly, are much better when the quarterback did not face a blitz. In the 99 drop-backs where the quarterback wasn't blitzed, Manning has completed 62-of-94 (66.0%) passes for 707 yards and four touchdowns. His non-blitzed yards per attempt average (7.5) is almost double the total of his blitzed yards per attempt average and his QB rating skyrockets to 102.6. The other five non-blitz drop-backs have resulted in Manning being sacked three times and running with the ball twice.
There's no doubt that Buffalo knows these stats and there's no doubt that Rex Ryan is going to dial up plenty of blitzes early against Manning and the Giants on Sunday. If the veteran quarterback struggles, Ryan will continue to send additional blitzers throughout the game. Buffalo has a legitimate chance to move to 3-1 on the season on Sunday, and their best chance of doing so is to send an additional player or two to force Manning into making some poor decisions.