QB Eli Manning
Conference Call, December 19, 2016
Q: Do you feel like when itís a new year the chemistry has to rebuild in an offense even though you have the same faces?
A: Definitely. Youíre always going to have new guys also. You have Sterling Shepard; Victor Cruz is back. Itís how all those guys mix and mingle with the other guys. Offensive linemen and different guys playing throughout the course of the year. It seems like the better teams are always close-nit teams. Itís like a family and you have the ability to enjoy being around each other. Have fun times during the down parts of practice or traveling on the road, but also being able to turn that switch on and get focused and serious. Be able to depend and count on each other. Have each otherís backs during the games no matter what is going on after good and bad performances.
Q: Whatís it like in the fourth quarter when you look around the huddle and you have a bunch of rookies in there?
A: I have great confidence in all the guys. Whether itís Sterling Shepard or (Paul) Perkins or Roger Lewis. All the offensive linemen, I have great confidence in. All these guys work extremely hard. We prepare for these situations and theyíll step up and make plays when we need them to.
Q: How do you think thatís gone? Having a lot of veteran guys but still being able to work in guys like Perkins, Adams and Roger Lewis?
A: I think thatís been great. I think thatís what you have to do. When you get into the second half of the season you need those rookies to step up and have a greater role. Theyíre not really rookies anymore. You canít have the mistakes. They know what theyíre doing and they have to play well. I think weíve done a great job slowly working them in and getting them some opportunities. Now, all of them are having a bigger role in the game plan and in the game.
Q: There has been improvements in the running game. If you agree, what in your perspective has been the biggest factor in the running game?
A: I think weíre getting a lot of reps. Defenses are giving us good looks to run the ball and weíre taking advantage of that. The offensive line is doing a good job creating some holes. Running backs are also making some guys miss tackles. Thatís usually how you get some big runs. Those running backs are going to have to make a safety or some of those big guys miss. The offensive line has to do their job in getting past the first and second line of defense. After that, thatís on the running back to make a guy miss and get that big play.
Q: Snacks said that you guys talk about the Super Bowl being a goal and that it comes up in meetings. How would you describe how that works and how people talk about it?
A: Thatís always the goal of every team. Each year the goal is to win a championship. That does not change. Thatís kind of the far goal. Each week you have kind of a near-sighted goal. Something on the game in performance, making improvements in your own play and the offense and defensive play. Itís ultimately to give yourself an opportunity to win a championship.
Q: Is it something that is talked about more or less than recent years?
A: I canít recall if itís talked about more or less. It doesnít change. Thatís the goal every year.
Q: Do you think that you guys have the best defense in the NFL?
A: I donít know. I havenít seen every defense or played against every defense. I havenít played against our defense aside from practice. I think our defense is playing extremely well. Theyíre holding teams to six, seven points the last two weeks. Getting turnovers and have been strong all year long. Theyíre playing good football. We have to do our part offensively. If we play smart and protect the football, make some plays when we have opportunities and our defense keeps playing the way that theyíre playing, weíll be a strong team.
Q: Is this the best defense that youíve had on a team with the Giants?
A: Again, Iíve been a part of some good teams and defenses that have gotten hot at the right time. Gotten after quarterbacks. Again, our defense is playing extremely well. Itís fun to watch them and great to have them on our side.
Q: How do you think Ben has made the transition to becoming a head coach?
A: I think heís done a great job of rallying the team. After each week just dealing with whether itís the ups or downs and getting us prepared and ready to play the next week. I think heís done a good job of keeping things fun and keeping things light. Also having a serious side. I think heís handled the situation very well.
Q: How difficult was it for the offense to just take it step by step and not try and over reach or press too hard so that things would ultimately fall into place in general?
A: The offense played better this past week. We protected the football. Had some good field position where we wouldíve liked to score some good points but we didnít make some plays. Itís a good defense. Detroitís defense has been one of the best especially over the last 10 weeks or so. We did a great job just protecting the football and when we got down in the red zone, scoring. Teams are playing us a little different and forcing us to run the ball. Not giving us the big shots. We just have to be good at taking the underneath stuff and playing moving the chains football. Getting five and six yards here, getting a third and manageable. Just being better on third down. We have to be able to just take what the defense is giving us. If thatís whatís going to work, let us move the ball and score points then thatís how we have to play.
Q: We donít see a lot of Benís personality. How does he keep things light? What is he like behind the scenes?
A: He obviously takes his job very seriously but he doesnít take himself too seriously at times. Heís willing to whether itís making fun of himself, he keeps things light in the meetings. He is able to prove his point through humor. Heís done a good job understanding that for 20 minutes you canít just sit there and talk to us about what we have to do. Guys minds will wander. He does a good job of getting the serious points across, but also keeping things fresh and fun.
Q: Do you see your teammates responding in a way that you have found interesting that itís working?
A: Yes. Weíre winning football games and guys are getting to the point. Understanding the messages across. I think heís done a good job.
Q: You talked about taking what defenses give you. Are you seeing more cover two this year?
A: Yes, just more two-high or Tampa two. Just a two-man coverage. They do a good job of taking away a lot of the throws. Everything is going to be contested underneath. There are opportunities to get the ball down the field into some zones, but you have to hold the ball also. Itís kind of like can you hold the ball long enough to hit you on those plays in the zones and second level. You should be able to run the ball. Just having that mix and getting into different plays where teams need you on first and down play will play a little more of a one-high to slow down the run. Weíre not getting that as much.
Q: Why do you think you were able to have some success yesterday getting Odell out of the slot?
A: Weíre going to move him around and get him in different spots just to try and get matchups. Some people canít get the double and say heís always going to be on the outside or in this position. People canít always double-team him and if they are, itís easy to spot it. Get other guys singled up in different spots.
Q: With Odellís ability to go get the ball with one hand, does that make him a bigger target?
A: I think just his athletic ability. Being able to jump, stop. His body control makes him a big target just because you have the athletic ability to turn on a second gear or stop and jump. Just react to a ball makes him a big target.
Q: Have you made more of an effort to spread the ball around more instead of targeting Odell or is it just a matter of how the game unfolds?
A: Itís just a matter of how the game unfolds. What coverage youíre getting based on the play. Obviously weíre going to move Odell around to think about what coverage we might be getting to try and get him some catches especially because of his play making ability. If we get different coverages, other guys become the first read or second read and have opportunities to make plays.
Q: Whatís your take on the Thursday night game and how do you approach it?
A: It is what it is. For me, itís just about getting mentally prepared, learning all the plays and seeing the defense and getting the preparation done. Obviously understanding for the offensive linemen, defensive linemen, running backs, linebackers, itís about getting your body back. Just the soreness. It can depend on the week before. How many hits you take or how sore you are if youíre dealing with an injury. Right now, late in the year itís a chance to earn a playoff spot. Itís a big one and itís going to happen. No point in complaining about it.
Q: Did you watch the Cowboys game last night? Were you bummed that they won?
A: I watched it. No, I wouldnít say I was bummed. I wouldíve liked to see Tampa win but I was excited about our win. We have to do what we can do and worry about our games and whatís ahead of us.