Ravens can empathize in Giants' rookie passer

The Ravens take on the New York Giants this weekend in a battle of two fighting teams; Baltimore fighting for a playoff spot and the Giants fighting for a shred of respectability.<br><br> Fans of the Ravens will likely empathize with those who cheer the Big Blue and what they are presently enduring with their rookie passer.

It was barely a year ago that the Baltimore franchise experienced the growing pains of rookie Kyle Boller. To a much larger degree the New York Giants and their fans are doing the same this year.

The Giants made no attempt to hide their affection for Eli Manning, the senior quarterback from Mississippi and final signal caller from a very famous family.

New York liked Manning so much they made a rare player swap on draft day to acquire his services, trading away Philip Rivers as well as their first round draft choice in 2005. The team then made a long-term commitment to Manning signing him to a six year, $54 million deal, which included a record $20 million signing bonus.

So how has it worked out thus far? As one would expect, after three miserable starts the jury is still out.

After success early in the season New York pulled free agent acquisition Kurt Warner out of the starting line-up and inserted Manning. Since then, the quarterback that will lead the franchise into the future has had more then his fair share of growing pains.

Thus far, Manning has completed a paltry 41% of his throws, tossing four picks with just a single scoring pass. His quarterback rating of 44.2 is one of the leagues worst. The number one rating? Eli's older brother, Peyton, with almost three times that number at 126.3

Manning has been rushing and forcing the action, releasing the ball well before pass catchers are ready to make the grab all in the hopes of avoiding sacks. His defensive reads have been poor and decision making not much better.

Terribly inaccurate in his three starts, Manning rarely seems on the same page as his receivers. In fact the Giants wide outs have combined for just a single touchdown reception this season, a woeful stat.

Compounding the problem is the lack of talent surrounding Manning. His offensive line is characterized by free agent/late round picks playing out of position. Except for Jeremy Shockey most of the skill players at his disposal are showing their age.

So what is the future for Manning? More growing pains, especially this weekend.

After struggling against Carson Palmer in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to the Bengals, look for the Ravens defense to take a measure of revenge against the Giants young passer. The opportunistic Ed Reed could have a field day against Manning while Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas will feast on New York's porous offensive line.

And of the long-term prognosis for the Giants quarterback of the future? It could be a long haul for Manning as he must wait for the organization to literally overhaul the entire offense, providing him necessary weapons a more importantly, the needed protection to make the offense work.

Tony Pauline - Scout.com


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