As is the case for many QBs, Manning is and always has been a player whose success depends upon his surroundings. That’s the only reason a 28-year-old Manning in 2009 could not complete the pass a 37-year-old Manning completed with ease in 2018. Gettleman referenced this point, too.”Take a look at what happened last year once we got that O-line fixed,” the GM said. “We’re going to continue working on that.”The Giants’ personnel issues are too plentiful for so much blame to be falling on a QB who statistically has not regressed. Gettleman referenced the offensive line. He also is working to rebuild a defense that ranked 23rd in points allowed per game this season, and the trade of Odell Beckham Jr. leaves an obvious playmaking void.NFL MOCK DRAFT 2019:Giants begin rebuild without new QBBut if you think Manning is the culprit now, ask yourself this: Did you think that was the case in 2013, when he posted career-worst figures in QBR (39.3) and INTs (27) following consecutive Pro Bowl seasons, and the Giants went 7-9? MORE: What Gettleman has done right, wrongThis is the problem with the idea that Manning, now 38 and entering his 16th NFL season, is suddenly washed up, and that the Giants are making a mistake in retaining him as their starting QB in 2019.There is no evidence to support the notion that Manning is any worse now than he was one, two, five or 10 years ago, or in either of the two seasons that ended with a Super Bowl ring on his finger.Or ever.The plays referenced above are just a couple visual examples. The first is from the Giants-Cowboys game in New York in December of 2009. The second is from the Giants-Cowboys game in New York in December of last year.The only differing factor in the two plays, which occurred nine years apart and ended with opposite results, is the presence of pressure from the defense. Certainly not Manning’s age or ability to throw a football. Manning a decade ago was prone to the same kind of frustrating plays that have Giants fans clamoring for a new QB today. At the same time, he is still capable of producing the kind of plays that have some of the same people believing he is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.Manning in 2019 is the exact same player he has been for the entirety of his career. One’s opinion of him now, after the Giants’ second consecutive losing season, should be no different than it was after, say, the team’s 2016 run to the playoffs.Or ever.IYER: A plan for Giants’ rebuild process”This narrative that Eli is overpaid and can’t play is a crock,” Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said this week when asked how he can justify employing Manning in 2019, the final year of the QB’s contract, with a cap hit of $23.2 million. “If you turn around and take a look at what he’s making right now, and look around the league and see what quarterbacks are making, if you were in my shoes, you would say, you know what … there really wasn’t a decision to make.”Criticism of Gettleman’s words regarding Manning’s pay compared to other NFL QBs is fair. Manning’s cap hit in 2019 is tied for the seventh biggest in the league. Yet last season he ranked 21st in QB rating and, among 38 qualifying QBs, 35th in Pro Football Focus’ overall rating. The bang for the buck is not great.But criticism of Gettleman’s words regarding Manning’s play is unjust. The QB’s numbers last season were actually better than his career standards in almost every statistical category.Manning completed 66 percent of his passes last season, a new career high. His career average is 60.3 percent.He threw for 4,299 passing yards. He has thrown for more yards in a season just three times in his career. His average is 3,732 yards per season.He threw 21 touchdown passes, slightly below his career average of 24 per year, but he only threw 11 interceptions, a new career low for a full season. His INT percentage also dropped to a career-best 1.9. His average percentage is 3.0.His yards per attempt figure reached 7.5, the second best of his career and well above his average of 7.0.He averaged 268.7 passing yards per game. He has thrown for more yards per game in just three seasons. His career average is 241.3 yards per game.His QB rating for the season was 92.4, the fourth best mark of his career and easily above his average of 84.1.And, yes, he took 47 sacks last season, easily the most of his career. Which brings us back to the game tape. Did you consider him a bad QB in 2007, when the Giants made their upset Super Bowl run even though Manning’s numbers that year were largely inferior to the figures he just posted in 2018?If you think Manning is hurting the Giants today, how can you figure the role he played in two championships entitles him to Hall of Fame candidacy?His play — for better or for worse — has been the one constant in New York for 15 years. There is no reason opinions of Manning’s abilities in 2019 should not match opinions of his entire NFL career. Consider this play: With the Giants near the red zone and looking to score against the Cowboys, Eli Manning drops back to pass. He feels a little pressure but notices man coverage on a go route down the left sideline. He uncorks the ball, but it’s an underthrow, and the covering corner intercepts his pass in the end zone. Touchback.Now consider this play: With the Giants near the red zone and looking to score against the Cowboys, Manning drops back to pass. He immediately notices man coverage on a go route down the left sideline and uncorks the ball. A perfect pass lands in the left arm of the receiver, just out of reach of the covering corner and in a pocket of the end zone the deep safety can’t reach in time. Touchdown.