By Josh Katzowitz
Eli Manning caught all kinds of flak last August when he compared himself favorably to the one and only Tom Brady.
"I consider myself in that class," Manning said. "And Tom Brady is a great quarterback, he's a great player and what you've seen with him is he's gotten better every year. He started off winning championships and I think he's a better quarterback now than what he was, in all honesty, when he was winning those championships.
"I think now he's grown up and gotten better every year and that's what I'm trying to do. I kind of hope these next seven years of my quarterback days are my best."
I applauded Manning for it, because he showed some confidence and some fire that’s a bit unusual for him in the interview room. But you know what? He has played like an elite quarterback this year. He’s completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,705 yards, 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 96.0. According to Football Outsiders, Manning is basically a top-five quarterback this year.
But you don’t have to tell that to Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. He already knows, and considering Ryan doesn’t mind talking trash about his opponents (ahem, Calvin Johnson and, um, the Eagles – both of whom beat Dallas after Ryan opened his mouth), the fact he’s praising Manning is highly complimentary.*
*Unless this is some kind of crazy double jinx Ryan is trying to pull off here and saying positive things in the hopes that he’ll fail. Which would be awesome.
“If you watch the tape the last two weeks, you don’t want to watch it,” Ryan said, via ESPN Dallas. “Eli Manning threw 22 straight completions against the Saints, hung up 35 points against the world champion defense supposedly [Green Bay]. We’re up for a big challenge here, but our guys are ready to go. We’re anxious about this game. We’ve done our preparation and we can’t wait until it gets here.”
So, elite or not elite?
“The guy’s playing excellent,” Ryan said. “He does a great job. He’s got an unbelievable touch. He will stand in there in the face of a damn hurricane and throw the ball. He’s really tough. We’re looking forward to this challenge. We’ve played some great quarterbacks during the year and this guy is no exception. He’s really playing well. He’s in that elite group for sure.”
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