QB Eli Manning
Conference Call, April 11, 2016
Q: First day back…what was the vibe like, the atmosphere, and the feeling?
A: I thought it was a good atmosphere. I think everybody was excited to get back today, get back to work. It’s just been a long break, a long time away from football. It’s good to kind of see all the faces again and see guys excited about this upcoming season. We definitely know we need to get better, we have to play better football, but we believe we can do that. I feel like we are close to being a good football team, we’ve just got to work a little harder and get a little better.
Q: New coach, obviously new weight room, some changes around there. What did you notice that was different in your mind?
A: Well yeah, things are obviously different. New coach, new strength coach—doing different things in the weight room. Coach (Mike) Sullivan is now the offensive coordinator, new quarterbacks coach. I think anytime you change things up, you have new things going on, and can give you that fresh start. There’s an urgency to kind of get things corrected, get things going the right way, make sure you’re on the same page with everybody. So you are feeling some things out, especially with a new quarterbacks coach, new strength coach…kind of getting to know them, getting to know exactly how you’re supposed to be doing it and doing it the right way to see how we can get better.
Q: Last year you talked about a different approach you took to the offseason and things you changed about the way you prepared for the season. Did you do any more of that this year? Anything different this offseason on your own than you’ve done in the past?
A: No, really kind of stayed with that same schedule, same thing I did last year. Felt that that was very helpful just in my arm care, my arm strength, maintaining my arm strength for the entire season. Really kind of kept that same model. Just trying to make my arm stronger, but just got to maintain, keep my mechanics where they need to be so I can continue to make all the throws and throw the ball at a high level.
Q: Are the challenges with a new coaching staff, a new program, any different for you versus for a guy that’s coming in from a new team? If so, how do you help these guys adjust?
A: I’ve never changed teams before, but I would think that would be an adjustment just because you might know a few players on the squad, but for the most part you’re probably walking around looking at a lot of faces you don’t recognize. You might not know who’s who from a player standpoint, from a coach’s standpoint. I called a lot of the guys weeks ago, several of the new guys we had—just introduced myself, see if they need anything in figuring out the New Jersey/New York area. But yeah, trying to reach out to those guys today, got to see most of them; still some guys I did not get to see and catch up with. Just introduce yourself and figure out how you can help them or how they can help this team get better. Get to know them, get to know them on a personal level. I think the closer the team is together as a group, that friendship and that bond, the better off we’ll be.
Q: What about the defensive guys? Obviously the offensive guys worked with Ben McAdoo. The defensive guys know him, but don’t know him as well as you guys do. How do you help them bridge that gap and get to know what to expect or is that something they have to learn on their own?
A: I think that’s something you’ve got to learn about Ben. They’ve got to get used what his meetings will be like. Again, I think it’s good that Coach Spags is back, so there’s a lot of familiarity with him with most of the guys. Obviously the new guys, it’s all going to be new. There is some carry over, it’s not wiped clean and start all over. So let’s build off the things that we were doing well, know our mistakes, and see what we need to improve to get better.
Q: What was the tone of Ben’s address to the team today? Did he talk to the team as a whole on the first day with the troops around him?
A: He spoke to the team as a whole and just talked about what our goals are for the team, what our goals are for each unit, and how football, what the important factors are, about our attitude, about our style of play that we’re going to try to play to win games.
Q: What was it like for you personally…this is the first offseason training program you’re going into where Coach Coughlin isn’t around? Was that an adjustment?
A: I guess it sunk in a little bit just because the last few months I’ve been doing a good bit of training at the Giants facility, so I’ve gotten to know Aaron a little bit, gotten to see Coach McAdoo walking down the halls; just understand that he’s the head coach now and not the offensive coordinator. I think it probably wasn’t as big of a shock, the total difference, to the start of the offseason today as what it could have been.
Q: What was your reaction to that first couple of hours of free agency when Jerry Reese was being so aggressive, even if it was on the defensive side of the ball?
A: I was excited. I was excited that we were signing some good players. I think we became a better team because of what we did in free agency. Excited about the guys that we got. I’ve played against most of them over these past few years, and we had great respect for them. As an offensive player, sometimes you know a little bit more about the defensive players if you played against them and what their talent level is in your preparation for them. All the guys, pretty aware of them and their abilities. Excited about the changes and whatever is best for the team. If they can get our defense better and make them stronger, that’s going to make my job easier and help out the team, and help us win more games.
Q: With all the splash moves made on the defensive side during free agency, do you almost embrace this offense flying under the radar?
A: I’ve felt very good about our offense. I feel like we made strides last year. There’s some things we did better, there’s some things we did not do as well last year. There’s definitely room for improvement in a number of areas, but I feel like we’re on the right track and feel very comfortable in it. I feel like we have some guys that are playing at an extremely high level, doing a lot of great things. We need some other guys to step up in their game, raise the level of play of some other guys. I feel like we have the potential to do some great things and we’ve got to put it all together.
Q: What are your thoughts about opening a season for the first time without your brother in the league?
A: I hadn’t really thought about it from that aspect. I think it’ll be a little different just knowing he’s not in OTA’s, knowing he’s not going through training camp; having that call in training camp where you talk about different things that are going on from a football standpoint or a funny story here or there. Also during the season—preparing for a team or talking about a game that we didn’t get to see each other play or talking about a common opponent that we’re about to play. There will be some adjustment. I guess I kind of had a little bit of a feel for it a few years ago when he had his neck injury and was not playing football. There’ll be some differences in not having that brother who is going through the same things you’re going through, but he definitely has been through a lot of the same situations, so I think we’ll still have a good conversation. He might be calling me a little bit more than normal just to kind of talk football and see what’s going on.
Q: Were you happy with the attendance that was there today? How important is it for you to have as many guys as possible or everybody there even though it’s April 11?
A: Obviously with the attendance, I didn’t see exactly what it was, if we had 100 percent of not. I feel like we had most of the guys there. Today, the first day is kind of different, you kind of have some administrative things going on. I think these next days, we’ll get in a good flow and get to do some things, get together on our own with receivers, and get started. It’s a little different this year with this minicamp in two weeks and not really allowed to have any on-field work. All of a sudden you’re on the field, going live 11 on 11 a little earlier than you typically would. We’ve got to make sure guys are up and running and ready to go.
Q: Besides the obvious of scoring more points, winning more games, what leaps do you feel the offense can make in this coming year?
A: I think we had a lot of opportunities. We got down into the red zone a lot, we’ve got to score more touchdowns down there. We had a lot of opportunities to convert on third down, we’ve got to do better converting on some third downs, staying on the field. I feel like the whole team will be better. I think the defense will be better, get more stops, we’ll be able to run more plays and get more opportunities. I feel like in the third year of this offense, we’ll be able to make strides in the comfort level, but also after two years, what works, what doesn’t work, what are our improvements, what do we need to work on, is there something we don’t do very well that maybe we won’t do, it’s a part of our identity. I think you can really pinpoint exactly what you want to focus on to make those improvements.
Q: How do you feel about your group of receivers right now? You don’t have a ton out there; Victor Cruz is still recovering from injury, you lost Rueben Randle. How do you feel overall about that group?
A: We definitely need some guys to step up in that category. Odell has obviously done great things, but we need him to raise his level as well. There’s things he can work on, and we ask a lot of him. We move him around in a lot of different spots, and he’s required to know a lot of different routes and different techniques, and exactly how to do it. That’s the way he’s going to get a lot of balls and we’re going to put him in position to do a lot of good things. Hopefully get Victor back and out there and healthy. Yeah, there’s some young guys and there’s some guys that have been around a little that we need them to step up and make plays for us.
Q: You sound so upbeat, is part of that your reflection on today and your hope within the organization that things are going to be improved, not only this offseason but obviously going into this season?
A: Starting a new season is another opportunity. For the most part, everybody is healthy, everybody is feeling good; they’re excited. It’s a long break, and I am excited. I think guys sense that we have a good squad, that we have the capability to win a lot of football games, that we did some really good things last year. But we’ve got to turn it up—we’ve got to get better, we’ve got to be more committed, we’ve got to do the little things better. I think there’s that urgency, that intensity right now; we’ve got to make sure we keep that. It’s easy to have it on the first day, but all of a sudden in six weeks of your offseason program or in the fourth week of training camp, you’ve got to have that same intensity… and obviously throughout the whole season, and that urgency and that desire to get better and to make improvements—that’s what we’ve got to keep doing.