A Conversation with Eli Manning

Eli Manning has looked as sharp as ever during training camp and he appears to be readying himself and his mates for an impressive season. Manning's been at his best – both during the preseason games and practice – and looks not only more comfortable in his second full season as the starter, but smoother and more accurate as well.

Manning was kind enough to sit down with TGI in Albany a couple days after his superb effort against the Chiefs. Here's what number 10 had to say:

    Q: Do you feel much different than you did last year at this time?

    A: Yeah, I do. I feel good. I feel that I have a better feel for the game, the speed of the game, in my second year as a starter. I'm more comfortable with our plays and our offense, and the different reads and adjustments I have to make, my decision-making. I still have to continue to learn the scheme. You can never stop learning in this game. Knowing what defenses are doing to try to stop you. You just have to keep working and trying to get better.

    Q: Do you feel you're doing as well as it's appeared to us you have?

    A: I do feel good out there. We have a good plan and I know what to do. But I have to continue to work on my footwork and my decision-making. I feel the more game experience I get, the more comfortable I'll be.

    Q: You seemed especially comfortable against the Chiefs leading the hurry-up offense, right?

    A: It's something we practice a lot so it felt comfortable. We have a good set of plays so everyone knows what to do. I have to get the ball out of my hands quickly. We did a good job of doing that and everybody was on the same page. We ran the ball and threw the ball well and guys were making plays when we needed them to.

    Q: Do you feel like people are starting to view and treat you differently around New York now that you're a little more established?

    A: Maybe a little. I know I feel more comfortable around my teammates and hopefully they have more trust in you and more confidence that you're going to go out there and make the right decisions and put your team in a position to win. You always have to prove to your teammates every day that you're going to do everything you can to put the team in the best position to win.

    Q: Does it seem like your teammates are looking to you more now as a leader?

    A: Leadership is something you can't try to overdo. You can't try to be something you're not. You have to earn the people's respect and earn the role of leadership. It's nothing something you're given. As time goes on and you get more comfortable and know what's supposed to be going on you get more confident in telling people how it's supposed to be. I feel comfortable with our plan, I feel comfortable telling somebody if something's going wrong or if we have to pick things up. But you can't force it. You can't be talking just to talk. Then when you do say something people don't listen as much. They know when I have something to say there's a reason for it.

    Q: Which is obviously something you couldn't do your first year, right?

    A: Of course. You're a little nervous correcting somebody on something because you might not be positive how it's supposed to be or you might be wrong.

    Q: Do you worry about how you're going to keep all your offensive weapons happy?

    A: We have a lot of guys with a lot of ability. But you just have to go with what the defense is giving you. We're going to try to get the ball to all of our weapons and use their abilities to help out this team and help out this offense score points. But we just have to concentrate on moving the ball and making plays. You can't force things to happen that aren't there. We're going to try to keep everybody happy but everybody is going to have to make plays and contribute for this team to be successful.

    Q: Do you feel comfortable enough as a leader that you'd be able to snuff out any bellyaching?

    A: Hopefully so. When you're winning, things are always a little easier. Hopefully we'll be able to spread the ball around and guys will be making big plays to keep everybody happy. That's the goal and hopefully they'll be able to keep to it.

    Q: Do you like the decision to move (offensive coordinator) John Hufnagel upstairs and (QBs coach) Kevin Gilbride down to the field with you?

    A: It didn't matter to me a whole lot either way. We kind of meet with Gilbride a little more, that's who I always meet with and talk to. So it's good to have someone on the sidelines and be able to communicate well with. We're on the same page and see things the same way. I think we'll communicate a little easier because we're a little more used to it.

    Q: Is this team good enough to win the Super Bowl this year?

    A: I hope so. We have to try to improve every day and never be satisfied. We have a lot of talent and all the players in the right spots. So it's going to come down to us competing every game, not making mistakes and playing good football.

    Q: Can you envision you and this team in Miami at the end of the year?

    A: I hope so. We have to work hard. It's a long season so you can't get ahead of yourself and start thinking about things that aren't happening right now. Right now all we should be worrying about is this next preseason game and week of practice and eliminating all the mistakes from our game.

    Q: Your offense finished third last year in scoring. What do you have to do to get better and how much better can you get?

    A: You have to be more consistent. Last year looking at all the films we had a lot of missed opportunities. There were some chances for some big plays, some deep throws and some touchdowns that we didn't hit. We have to start hitting some of those and making all the plays when they're there.

    Q: You were at the stadium more than anyone since the end of last year. How big of an offseason was this for you?

    A: I'm always going to try to do a lot. I wanted to work extremely hard and get better this offseason. I wanted to get in the weight room and the meeting room and be as prepared as I possibly could be coming into the season. I think I did a good job of doing everything I could to get prepared for training camp. I always want to keep the mentality that the more you work and the harder you prepare, the better off you'll be.

    Q: Does that awful playoff game still drive you or is it already out of your mind?

    A: You have to put it behind you. You can't forget about it, you can use it as motivation. You have to try to prevent that type of game from happening again. But you do have to move on and focus on what you have to do to get better.

    Q: How has this camp gone for you overall?

    A: This camp's going well. You have good days and bad days. That's just a part of training camp. I thought we've competed, we've worked hard, we've tried to get better. We just have to continue to work and never get satisfied.

    Q: If the season started tomorrow would you be ready to go?

    A: I think so, I do. For the most part, we're ready, but we want to take advantage of these next two weeks. We have two more games to work hard and get prepared.

    Q: How do you feel physically right now?

    A: I feel good. I don't worry a whole lot about weight. I just want to feel comfortable. I'm probably 225 or so. I feel like I'm in shape. I can run, I can take hits, I feel comfortable.

    Q: How excited are you for Sinorice Moss to finally practice again?

    A: We really haven't had a chance to get going. It'll be good to get him back in the offense, get comfortable and make sure we're on the same page with everything.

    Q: How good of a feeling is it to come out of a preseason game after you've basically torn it up?

    A: It's fun, but you still want to root for the backups and the young guys and root for your offense to continue to do well. I think that shows that everyone's on the same page and all the work the other guys are doing is paying off as well.

    Q: How are the other QBs behind you doing?

    A: They're playing well and making good decisions and competing and working hard. They're all very serious and they showed that by going out there and playing well.

    Q: How much do you enjoy playing in New York?

    A: I like New York. I feel comfortable here. I have friends from around the team and also outside of football. I like being here.

    Q: Any crazy New York stories?

    A: No, nothing crazy's happened really. I'm used to it. I grew up in a big city (New Orleans) so it's not like it's all brand new to me or anything. New York's New York so it's going to be a little different, but nothing really crazy has happened to me since I've been here.


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