Eli Manning might not be the emotional leader in a way that Phil Simms was, but his stoicism has served him well, especially in a position where failure needs to be treated with amnesia.
“Mike Sullivan has known him for a long time,” said head coach Ben McAdoo, after Manning threw an interception in camp. “He says all the time, ‘If Eli wasn’t playing football, he’d probably be the world’s greatest poker player’, and he didn’t flinch. He just keeps playing.”
Just in case there was any question, GM Jerry Reese has said that the team is on the back of the two-time Super Bowl MVP. “I think as a quarterback you have a big responsibility,” Manning said. “You have to play well, take over and I have to do my job and play at a high level. I understand that, I demand that of myself anyway, so I don’t think you try and put any added pressure. You understand that you’re trying to go out there and do my best but I have to play well.”
The head coach has to make every player feel important, but McAdoo acknowledged that Manning gets most of the attention whether it’s positive or negative. “That’s the way this league is now, the quarterbacks have a lot to do with it,” McAdoo said. “Sometimes they get a little too much blame when things don’t go well, a little too much credit when things do go well. There’s a lot on the shoulders of these guys.”
It’s only August and exhibition games haven’t been played yet, but the head coach likes what he’s seen from his QB so far. “Eli’s been sharp,” McAdoo said. “He’s worked at it in the offseason, had some good looks and good work in the offseason training program. He’s been sharp so far. First pass, he got that out of the way quick, the turnover, but he’s been sharp since then.”
Whether it’s because of the system, the offense-oriented rules of the NFL or old-fashioned hard work, Manning seems to be improving as he ages. “That’s the goal, to keep improving, learning, knowing limitations and what you have to improve on from year to year, enjoy the process of learning, continue to learn, continue to teach, be a teacher, be a coach to the receivers, get them up to speed but also be a student, ask tons of questions from McAdoo, coach Cignetti, Sully and try and pick their brains and know what they know so we’re all on the same page,” Manning said.
Things seem to be clicking in the third year of the McAdoo-Manning marriage. “Yeah, our communication has been pretty precise,” McAdoo said. “We can always get better. It’s got to be visual and verbal and sometimes we may not be as complete as we may like to be. It’s an ongoing conversation, it’s always a work in progress. You can never get [too good] at communicating.”