After spending the first 10 seasons of his career in a vertically-oriented passing game, Eli Manning’s transition to Ben McAdoo’s offensive scheme was supposed to take some time. McAdoo’s offense eliminated the long developing option routes and introduced quick-breaking routes designed to get the ball out of Manning’s hand fast. After struggling in Week 1, Manning finished 2014 with a career high in completion percentage (63.1) to go along with 4,410 passing yards and a 30:14 touchdown to interception ratio. A recent study by Steve Palazollo of Pro Football Focus shows that Manning dominated in the intermediate area of the field—defined as the 11-20 yard range—and he made sure to do what he does best quite often.
According to Pro Football Focus, Manning targeted the intermediate range on 27.5 percent of his passes in 2014. Only three other passers targeted that range on a higher percentage, and two of them were spot starters Charlie Whitehurst and Drew Stanton. Only four other quarterbacks earned a higher Pro Football Focus grade than Manning on passes targeted in the intermediate range.
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Manning has always showed exceptional zip on passes in the intermediate and between the intermediate and deep range. However, McAdoo’s offensive scheme has allowed him to diagnose and deliver of quick-breaking routes that take advantage of Manning’s best tool.
Last season, Manning admitted that he did not feel comfortable in McAdoo’s offense until the final month of the season. Over the final four games of the 2014 season, Manning racked up 1,330 passing yards and an 8:2 touchdown to interception ratio. With a retooled offensive line, the addition of a true receiving threat at running back in Shane Vereen, the looming return of Victor Cruz and the potential progression of the team’s talented young wide receivers, Manning could be looking at a career year at age 34.