Brett Favre feels Eli Manning can still play and just needs better protection from his offensive line, but Favre also remembers the trying latter stages of an NFL career and how self-doubt crept in for even the Hall of Fame QB.
Favre, in the weekly show he co-hosts with Bruce Murray on SiriusXM NFL Radio, said Wednesday that “the way (Eli) plays the game has not changed. You have to protect him.”
“He’s not going to win with his feet,” Favre said. “Every once in a while he may scramble, but he is who he is. And when you can protect him he’s really good. And I think his demeanor and his personality and his physical attributes really haven’t changed and so I think it is up to the team and the organization to provide him – and I know that they’ve tried their best – to provide him with adequate protection. You gotta figure out a way to protect the guy.”
Favre obviously is neglecting to mention the plays on which Manning has had adequate-to-great protection and still has missed opportunities to make throws and big plays. But it’s understandable he’d stick up for a fellow Super Bowl champion and QB, and it’s noteworthy because Favre remembers trying times toward the end, too.
“I think a guy like Eli, and I don’t know this for certain, but I think guys that are really, really true competitors and have played a long time … have a tendency when things go … bad(ly) … you try to do too much,” Favre said. “And I consider that a good quality. You try to offset maybe what your team lacks with your ability. And, yes, that gets you in trouble and then more criticism falls upon you.
“And I’m not saying Eli is doing that,” Favre added. “I think he’s battling his butt off. And I think given good protection I think you see an Eli that we have known to be there at the end. I think that that’s still there. I don’t see skills diminishing, I see an offensive line struggling to protect him right now. And if they figure that out I think you’ll see that the Eli that we’ve known for so long will be there again.”
Again, the Giants’ offensive line played better against the Saints, but Manning missed several key throws or big-play opportunities. And on Monday, Manning definitely seemed more uneasy than usual. Favre said it’s natural for doubt to creep in for a veteran when times are tough.
“Does self-doubt ever creep in?” Murray asked. “Maybe in your last year in Minnesota did you ever say, ‘I don’t know that I can do this anymore?’ Will that happen to Eli if he looks around and sees everything getting better and things not getting better from his perspective?”
“I can’t say for certain that any other player thinks the way I did, and vice versa, but, for me, absolutely,” Favre said. “You start questioning, ‘Do I still have it? Do people still believe in me? Is it my fault? What else can I do? What else should I do?’ All those thoughts crossed my mind, and that was a different phase.
“If you play long enough the tides will turn and you will question,” Favre added. “Now, you may not give the impression to anyone else that there is this doubt that has been created in your mind, but I would think that every player who has played a really long time — as long as Eli, maybe longer … has been around long enough and has had some adversity — questions whether or not they still have it.”