QB Eli Manning -- September 4, 2019
Q: What are your thoughts as you officially begin your 16th season?
A: Just excited, excited about this team, the players we have, about the work we have been able to accomplish these last five weeks. Looking forward to making all that count towards the first regular season game, in the division, on the road. A great opportunity for us to go out there and play well.
Q: Do you feel you can carry over what you did at the end of last season?
A: Well, I feel itís just a comfort level in the offense and a lot of those same guys are part of this offense, we have a few new faces that should hopefully help us out and get on track early and play at a high level. Nothing is guaranteed from one year to the next year, but I think itís more in just what weíre doing offensively, the style and kind of finding our identity. Hopefully we can establish that identity soon.
Q: A lot of the receiving corps talked about this ďteam mentalityĒ, how does that impact how you execute?
A: I think itís just a matter of trusting everybody to do their job. Weíre not trying to get certain people in the exact right spot, we are calling good plays that guys know how to run, they know where they are going to be, they can play fast, they can react. Avoid the negative plays, the bad plays, and weíll find the opportunities to hit the big shots and the long plays when those opportunities show up. You have to be patient and wait for them and then execute when you have the right looks.
Q: Whatís the potential for this offense, Shepard didnít play, Engram only played one series and Saquon didnít play. We havenít seen your three best playmakers with you all preseason?
A: Yea, obviously we have to get all three of those guys involved. Itís just a matter of everybody doing their job, thatís what a team is. Itís 11 guys all on the same page to have success. It starts up front with the offensive line controlling the line of scrimmage, finding running lanes and me finding the open receivers and then executing running and catching the ball and doing the fundamentals correctly. I think we have guys that know what they are doing and they can make great plays when you give them the opportunity.
Q: Have you got on those three about how you played more in the preseason than they did?
A: No, I understand some guys had some injuries and other reasons. I enjoy playing, I didnít play a whole lot in the preseason, either, but I enjoy getting out there and getting in a rhythm.
Q: How much different do you think the Cowboys defense will be witg Demarcus Lawrence coming back from surgery?
A: They have a number of good players. The play very fast, itís a fast defense, they run to the ball. They are very disciplined in their assignments and their technique. Itís a team, they have good players all around, we just have to know their scheme, have answers for certain looks and execute our game plan.
Q: With your offensive line, do you think you go into this year more protected and better suited than you have the past few years?
A: Yea, I think the offensive line is strong. I think for the talent and the guys we brought in and the old guys we have and just the comfort level the guys have. That first year going into a new offense last year with a lot of new guys can take a little time for everybody to get on the same page. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to have mistakes before you fix them. I think now a more vet group, a more experienced group with guys that have been around and played together, I think a lot of the questions have already been answered and now we have to go out there and play well.
Q: Is there a level of excitement to see what this offense can be?
A: Yea, I think there is always an excitement for the first game and for the guys we have. I think you get the excitement from the way we have practiced and played in some preseason games and executed. I think we just have to be humble enough to prepare this week and have a great week of practice. Know your opponent and be confident enough to go out there and perform on Sunday.
Q: How important is it for you guys to get off to a good start this season?
A: You always want to get off to a good start, thatís always the goal. Right now, we just have to focus on our game plan, on the Cowboys, what they are doing, and we need to go out there and play well.
Q: You have started 0-2 five out of the last six years. When you are in that spot, you feel the weight of it, right?
A: We will just worry about this week.
Q: Do you feel that with Daniel Jones behind you that will push you more?
A: I donít think thatís necessarily the concern. I think you are pushed to go succeed always. You prepare to go out there and win football games, thatís the mindset. You want to do it for all the guys in this locker room, the coaches, this organization, the fans and everybody that puts so much effort into having a great year. That pushes you more than who else is on your team.
Q: You have played a lot of NFL football, but when you play the Cowboys, is there anything thatís different facing them?
A: I think you go into every game with the same mentality. It is obviously in the division. I think those division games mean a little bit extra, because you play them twice every year and they just mean more in terms of winning your division is the only way you can guarantee getting into the playoffs. They mean a little bit more, throw in that we always seem to play them the first game of the season, is always important because itís the first one. Thereís a lot of special memories in playing the Cowboys.
Q: Did you tell Jon Halapio that you want to see him walk off the field after this one?
A: I think thatís always the goal, keep everybody healthy.
Q: Was that one of those injuries where you say ďOh, thatís ugly?Ē
A: I havenít watched too many, but you never want to see someone go down with a bad injury.
Q: Youíve talked about some of the uncertainty you felt coming into this year about if you would be back or not. When you take the field in a very familiar setting, the first game in Dallas, do you think youíll feel a little different, or appreciate it more?
A: I think now youíre just focused on the game plan and going out there and playing. As you get later in the years, youíre always grateful for the opportunity that youíre still playing football. Youíre still part of a team and part of something special, and in a great organization. So, I think that youíre always appreciative of the circumstances youíre in, and I think you do, as you get older, appreciate it a little bit more.
Q: What is your level of pride in being the first Giant to play 16 years? Does that mean something to you?
A: I didnít know that until someone mentioned it this yearóI think in the media, one of you nice fellas (laughter)óand so, I didnít know about it, but I guess it is something to be proud of and Iím just blessed to be with this organization, and no one has enjoyed playing for this organization more than I have, and Iíve been appreciative of it. I have a great respect and love for the Giants and the whole history of the organization.
Q: I know you concentrate on staying in the moment and worrying about what you have to do, but how much would it mean to you, both personally and as a team, to sort of prove the doubters wrong?
A: I think thereís always something special in that, but weíve got a long season to do that.
Q: Is that kind of ramped up a little more this year, for you personally?
A: Again, I think you find your different inspirations, and I think thereís bigger inspirations than that, that reflect how you want to play and why you want to go out there and win football games.
Q: Itís low on your list then?
A: Iíd say so.
Q: This starting offensive line, even though itís looked good in limited work, they havenít played together in a regular season game yet. What are you seeing thatís telling you that theyíre improved and that itís a better group?
A: I think just the way weíve practiced and the way they handle thingsóthe preparationóand the way they have played in the games. So, I think just the combination of all those things, just being more prepared just with the experience and added vets I think will help us out.
Q: Because you know what you have in Saquon (Barkley) and Evan (Engram) and Sterling (Shepard), is it more important for you this season to see the fact that the entire offensive line plays together in every game? Itís a lot easier to judge where the offense is, I would imagine, based on those five guys, thatís the biggest unknown.
A: Right, I think whenever youíre talking about the offensive line, it is different because it is five guys working together. Itís not necessary--the timing kind of between a quarterback and receiver, itís just two peopleóthe offensive line has to pass things off and communicate and be on the same page. Thereís a lot going on. I think itís important for those guys to go out in the preseason and play some series, and have kind of un-scouted looks in the preseasonóthose things you donít game plan a whole lot, so now, you have a lot of time to prepare. There will always be new looks, but I think weíre just better adjusted and can make calls and can make adjustments quicker.
Q: Who has said something to you in the offseason that has resonated with you, as far as your situation and what you go into this year?
A: Nothing coming to mind, sorry.
Q: When you look at Saquon last year, how can he even get better?
A: Well, I think first off, itís obviously about the team success and winning games. Heís a guy, I think weíll just have a smarter player, knowing the reads, the runs, get him involved in the pass game, just doing everything a little bit smoother. He works extremely hard, so I think heíll be primed to go out there, and the guys around him, we have to do our job, we have to play well, and we have to give him opportunities, and we have to convert on third downs, and we have to score points in the red zone, and do all those things to give him more carries. The better your third down conversion is, the more first downs you have, and the more opportunities to run and play-action and be successful on offense.
Q: You mentioned earlier trying to establish an identity early as an offense. What is the identity that you think you guys can establish if youíre functioning at your highest level?
A: All offenses, I think you want to stay ahead of the sticks, and be able to run the ball, be able to play-action, be able to find ways to move the ball, be patient, and then when thereís opportunities to take shots and hit your deep stuff, you take advantage, but I think itís just being able to be consistent. I think those are the offenses that are good, when youíre not having the negative plays, when youíre not having the penalties, youíre not having the incompletions, or the plays where youíre going backwards. If you can stay ahead of the sticks and just be consistent, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense.