John Mara: 'We expect to see the championship-level Eli' in 2014

Eli Manning has John Mara's full support. (USATSI)
Eli Manning has John Mara's full support. (USATSI)

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Despite throwing a career-high 27 interceptions last season and ranking as one of the NFL's worst quarterbacks, Eli Manning has the full support of Giants co-owner John Mara, who still thinks the 33-year-old, two-time Super Bowl winner can play at a high level.

“I don’t think he all of a sudden forgot how to play quarterback,” Mara said, via the New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano. “We expect to see the championship-level Eli play for us this year. He hopefully will have more support than he had last year, and I think you’ll see him playing back to his form.”

Of course, critics would argue that Manning has been the beneficiary of some really good defenses and a lot of luck during those two runs to titles. But as we wrote last month, Manning wasn't the only reason the 2013 Giants limped to an 0-6 start (before finishing 7-9) and featured a 31st-ranked offense that was just inept on the ground as it was through the air. The offensive line was a mess, the running game was nonexistent, and the pass catchers struggled to make plays.

Still, an ESPN report suggested that some in the Giants front office wondered if Manning was a player in decline. Mara, apparently, wasn't one of those voices.

“I think you almost feel like this is an opportunity to re-invent yourself,” Mara said. “And to come back and to change what occurred last year and some of the difficulties, and bounce back and kind of have a clean slate to kind of prove yourself again, and get back to playing at a high level. ...

“We still believe he’s got a lot of years left in him,” the owner continued. “And we’re not talking like Eli Manning only has one or two more years left. We think he’s got quite a few more left.”

So get comfortable, Giants fans, because it sounds like Manning's not going anywhere. Although we'll get a sense for just how committed Mara is when (if?) the team extends Manning's contract, which is set to expire after the 2015 season.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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