Eli Manning met with the media via conference call and dicsussed the heated battle between Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman and what he tried to do to help his top receiving target keep his composure.
QB Eli Manning
Conference Call, December 21, 2015
Q: Tom Coughlin just lamented that too much of the focus coming out of that game was on the Odell Beckham-Josh Norman thing. Are you as bothered by that as he is?
A: Well I think, hey, it was a great game, came down to the last minute and yeah, I think there was too much focus on that. I think those sometimes do become a physical battle and these little battles between players can go on a little bit. Obviously, you don’t want it to take away from the game, you don’t want it to hurt your team and you got to be smart about it. I thought they went at it early on, nothing was called and so they probably in their minds just start early on to see what they can get away with and that’s when it probably got out of hand.
Q: (Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com) Obviously that battle escalated pretty quickly, but specifically on the play when Odell launched himself with the helmet against Norman, I mean is that the kind of play that you fear not only is he going to hurt somebody else but himself with such a dangerous play?
A: No, I mean that hadn’t popped in my head really. Obviously you don’t want anything helmet to helmet, but they were going after each other a little bit and it’s happened before, it’s not the first time it’s ever happened in an NFL football game.
Q: Given the pace of the game, is there much time when something like that happens to go to a player and say, ‘Hey just calm down, take a breath, play football, and just focus on that’ or do you just don’t have the time to do that in between plays?
A: No, I went to Odell a few times and just be smart and I thought early on I thought he was being smart. I saw a few plays where Norman body slammed him or is going after him and he didn’t retaliate, he didn’t come back after him or push him or do anything and so I thought he was being smart. But if flags aren’t called early and guys keep doing it eventually it’s going to lead to something further and become an issue all game.
Q:(Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com) As you mentioned, Norman seemed to instigate it early on in the game and Odell said after usually it’s the second guy that gets caught. Do you anticipate any type of fines or possible suspension for Beckham?
A: I don’t know. I have no idea. I think I’d be surprised if they suspended him. There might be a fine for one of the plays, but I’d be—this is a normal occurrence and I’d be surprised for a suspension.
Q: How big of a loss would that be if you had to play without him?
A: Well we will deal with it if it happens. Wouldn’t want to speculate.
Q: With you mentioning flags not called early and Odell was body slammed, it kind of sounds like you just really have your teammate’s back here. Is that part of this that you just support Odell and you think that maybe he was wrong at times?
A: Of course I support Odell. I think the guy does a lot of great things. He plays hard, he practices hard, he understands the circumstance and what occurred, he does not want to hurt his team, he does not want to put us in a bad situation. I think he’s still a young player and it’s a learning experience for him. I think he understands that, he’s got to control his emotions, I think he’s done a better job of doing that all season. So I think we’re going to support him and I don’t think he was, I think everybody’s kind of attacking him, I think Norman came out and made his comments, which I think Odell took the higher road so I am proud of him on that aspect. It’s one of those deals they were going after each other and hey, we don’t support that, it’s not the way I play the game, it’s not what I’d do, but you got to be able to handle it on both sides and pay the consequences.
Q: (Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com) When Coughlin spoke to us, just before he spoke to us about the importance of the team over any type of personal battles. From that standpoint seeing the emotions get the best of him, is that disappointing to see? You mentioned he’s a young player but still in a game in that magnitude is it disappointing it got to that level?
A: It is what it is. I was surprised the way he bounced back early on, he had some uncharacteristic plays, dropped a few plays, but down in the fourth quarter made a couple of key plays, made a third down conversion and got about a 40-yard gain and obviously had the 4th and 5 and made a big play on Norman, probably the only time they played man-to-man coverage, Norman-Odell, and he beat him. He responded when we needed to him and he stayed—there were times when he kind of went off and played the personal battle but he came back in and did what he had to do for the team.
Q: You said Norman came out and made his comments, I’m sure you hear a lot out on the field. Were Norman’s comments to Odell crossing some kind of a line here?
A: No, I was just saying to the media. He just cried a little bit so I didn’t think that was really necessary. I think both those guys were going at it, I don’t think either one was in the right, but I didn’t think one was worse than the other.
Q: A question on the running game if I could, what’s been the difference you’ve seen the last couple of games? The running game just seems to be functioning a little more smoothly?
A: Yeah, I think it’s just the offensive line is doing a great job. They’ve opened up some holes, the backs have hit them and we had a couple nice, longer gains, which has been great. I think we had a 20-yarder and then had the 45-yarder. So to get a couple of those big gains and long runs always help out, but just overall just a little bit more consistent. Just getting positive yardage, no runs were going backwards or getting negative yards so that’s a great key and it was good to get that running game going and be balanced.
Q: You’ve never had a season with these kinds of close losses, so many of them. How do you view them? Do you view them as like we are this close to competing with the very best in the NFL, just can’t get it done, maybe next year we close them out? Or is it you’re just not good enough?
A: I’m still trying to deal with that and understand it. Even today, just going back and watching the Carolina film I saw all the games on the computer screen and you just go down each one starting with Dallas and how many opportunities we had and how many games we loss on either the last play of the game, on a field goal made or a field goal missed, or on a play within seconds of the game being over and how many close ones there are. I feel like every game has been that way. Every game we’ve had an opportunity, we’ve had a lead and lost it or maybe we were behind and fought back and just ran out of time. So I think we are a good team, we just haven’t been good enough to win some of these games.