He was the first pick in the 2004 draft, by the San Diego Chargers, and traded to New York for Phillip Rivers and three draft choices. If that wasn't enough, he also happens to be the younger brother of arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts.
While many young quarterbacks are allowed a lengthy period of
adjustment and education when their careers begin, Manning was
afforded no such luxury -- such is the price he pays for his lot in
life. Manning was thrown into the fray early, and while he has shown
flashes of the talent that made the Giants give up so much for him,
he also has made his mistakes.
Now, the Giants' young signal caller is maturing from a young thrower
into a polished quarterback.
"Eli, he's had some adversity this year against Philly and Seattle,"
Dallas linebacker Greg Ellis said. "What I saw, watching those games,
was that he hung in there, he didn't go haywire. When things don't go
well, that's how you see what you're made of. Eli has always had the
size, the talent. Now he's getting that maturity.
"Even that long pass he threw to (Giants wide receiver Plaxico)
Burress to win the game, he really got hit. But he hung in there."
Head coach Bill Parcells said the Giants aren't asking Manning to do
anything different this season, but that his understanding of his
assignments and the nuances of the game have allowed him to perform
at a higher level this season.
"It looks like pretty much the same offense this year," Parcells
said. "But he just knows it better. They'll have a couple of wrinkles
in every game, so we have that to worry about, but they're basically
doing the same things."
Rookie free safety Patrick Watkins hasn't played against Manning
before, but he has watched last year's games between the Cowboys and
Giants, and seen film of Manning's performance in the Giants' first
five games this season, and Watkins clearly is impressed by what he
"He's a good quarterback, a real good quarterback," Watkins said. "I
can't take nothing away from him. That's an extremely balanced team,
and he runs that offense well."
If Manning steers the New York offense, Watkins said, running back
Tiki Barber is the engine that makes the offense go.
"It's a high-scoring offense, and they have a great running back,"
Barber said. "(Barber) has great balance, and he can make the first
guy miss, so we really have to tackle well, really wrap him up. He's
fast and strong, but he's smart, too. He just makes plays."
Watkins and the Dallas defense also face a team with a slew of big
targets to whom Manning can throw. Wide receivers Burress and Amani
Toomer stand 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-3, respectively, while tight end
Jeremy Shockey measures in at 6-5, 251 pounds.
At 6-5, Watkins is the tallest defensive back in the NFL, but shied
away from suggesting his height would give the Cowboys an advantage
over other teams defending the Giants' big pass catchers.
"The only team I've seen with guys that big is Jacksonville --
they've got some big guys, too," Watkins said. "So it won't be the
first time I've seen guys this tall. Hopefully that will help."
Manning Becoming a Man
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