QB Eli Manning -- December 12, 2018
Q: After the game, you talked about the offense figuring out its path. What did you mean by that?
A: Just our identity and being able to run the ball. I think that’s been the biggest difference since the bye. Just an emphasis on running the ball, the play-action. A lot more under center. Not as much shotgun. Not as much seven-step drop. Just having everything build off the run game.
Q: You guys are still alive for a Wild Card opportunity. How does that change the energy and atmosphere around the building?
A: I think it helps. I think it helps knowing you still have a chance. It’s the mindset that we just have to keep. We have to keep doing our part, and that’s winning football games, and just knowing that there’s still hope if we do our part and get a little help. It keeps everything lively in the locker room. Everyone wants to go out there and keep winning football games, and keep feeling good in the locker room after games.
Q: Do you like having that identity as a quarterback? Everything built around the run game?
A: I think that works when you run the ball, and play-action, and kind of have everything look like that. It’s all about scoring points, and getting touchdowns, and moving the ball. That’s a defense that’s been playing great. They’ve been getting turnovers, and we’ve been in games and avoiding some of the negative plays. Just giving us a shot on third downs. We’re still throwing the ball and taking our shots. You can kind of beat play-actions, a chance to be aggressive and get the ball down the field.
Q: What has (WR) Russell Shepard brought to you guys this year?
A: Russell, he brings a lot of leadership to our room. He’s the veteran of the group, if you will. He’s a jack of all trades. He plays all the positions. He’s my fill-in guy. Russ does a really good job with us. He does a really good job on special teams. He keeps the room light, if you will. He loves to have a good time, but when it’s time to be serious, Russ gets serious, and does what he has to do to make the plays.
Q: The Titans defense does a lot of pre-snap motion and different looks. Is there a danger in putting too much emphasis on that as you come to the line of scrimmage?
A: I think we just got to get up there, make our calls, and stick with your rules, and everybody will be fine. I think we’ll do a good job of handling that. Sometimes, they’ll do some good disguising and try to get you into a certain call. So, I think we’ll have a good plan for it, but we should have an answer for whatever they want to bring.
Q: With all the turnover this year, has that been a factor in some of the struggles early on this season?
A: I think anytime you have a lot of new guys, new coaches, new schemes, it takes a little bit for everybody to get comfortable. Just for the coaches to kind of figure out what’s our best personnel, what are our best plays, what routes do we run the best, what run plays are the best. So, I think it just takes a little while for everybody to get a feel, for me to get a feel for how the coaches are going to call certain things. There’s a lot of just getting comfortable and figuring things out. You kind of hope you’ll be able to win a few close ones as you’re figuring those out. We weren’t able to win some of those tight ones early on, but now it seems to kind of be clicking and having a great understanding of what we’re looking for, and making adjustments. Coach can call things that maybe you haven’t worked on in a few weeks. Just now, we have a better understanding of the whole offense.
Q: What’s it like for you to be standing on the sideline at the start of the fourth quarter and looking out there going, “This is interesting?”
A: I guess you’re happy to be out there when you’re winning and you got a lead, and let the rookie get in there and play some. Rooting for him to do well – offense keep doing. It’s fun to cheer on your guys, and when you have a big lead, it’s a good feeling.
Q: In the first half of the season, you were throwing the ball a lot. Your pass attempts have dropped because of the run game getting started. Has that been more beneficial to you in terms of you feeling fresher at this point of the year than maybe you have in the past?
A: I don’t think it’s fresher. I think that’s just the way the offense is going. When we can run the ball a little bit more, get the play-action. Usually, you run it more when you’re running it well. It just puts us in a better position to control the clock a little bit, control the game, and just put us in better third down circumstances. If that’s what’s working to move the ball, have a few more leads now going into the second half. So, probably not throwing it as much.
Q: Is it easier for you to play quarterback in this situation when you’re not throwing or getting hit as much?
A: I guess it’s easier when I think the offensive line is kind of controlling the front. Whatever we got to do. Every game is going to be different. You can have the game plan. The defense is playing great. We got some leads. We’re building leads so we can continue to run the ball in the second half.
Q: How big of a safety net is it if (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) is not out there, that you have guys that can step in that have played in this league?
A: Last year, we lost a bunch of guys. It’s a little bit different. We have guys who’ve been here, and guys that know what they’re doing and you trust, and you have reps with them. I feel comfortable with all the guys out there, and do a good job of rotating some guys in, and make sure they’re doing the things they do well.
Q: What do you think has been the biggest difference on the offensive line since the bye week than maybe the first half of the season?
A: I think always with offensive lines, the more reps those guys get together. Just having kind of that nucleus of guys for a number of games, being able to just make calls, and pass things off. Just being able to fire off and get that run game going. It can help all the play-actions. We’re not in as many third downs for any obvious passing downs as we were early on where the defense kind of can have a little bit of an advantage.
Q: It seems like the new players have learned how to win after a win. How much have you been part of that learning process to kind of carry them along to build off a win and take it to the next week?
A: I think what’s important is to, what we talk about, keep the blinders on. Whether you’re doing well or doing bad, just keep the focus on our preparation, on playing for each other. Just focusing on the next game, and make sure we have a great week throughout the week in practice, and knowing your opponent so we can go out there and play well, and make the plays to win.
Q: With the way the offense has been playing since the bye, do you feel as if there’s less pressure on you to make every play?
A: You don’t think in those terms. You just want to go out there and do your job. We got to throw the ball, we got to throw it well. We got to run the ball. When you can do both, and depending on what the defense is doing, we can just adjust a little bit easier, depending on how the defense is going to play us. Whether they want to stop the run or stop the pass, and what plays we can get to. You still got to do your job, and convert on third downs, and get completions, and set everything up.