Phil Simms on the Art of Quarterbacking

He played 14 seasons for Big Blue and led them to the team's first Super Bowl victory. In the process, he garnered MVP honors by completing an incredible 22-of-25 passes for 268 yards and 3 TDs. For his career he threw for 33,462 yards, 199 TDs and 157 interceptions. His lifetime quarterback rating was a respectable 78.5.

But, as Giant Insider correspondent Tom Mackie discovered, stats and numbers don't mean hooey to old number 11. Chris Simms's dad discussed young Eli Manning's 2005 season, his 2006 expectations and more about today's NFL at the recent CBS Media Day in New York.

Q: Eli Manning struggled near the end of last season, especially in the playoff loss to Carolina. What are your expectations of him this season?

A: That loss to Carolina was not Eli's fault for one thing. If the coach is doing a bad job calling the plays, I don't care how good you are, you can't overcome that. So Eli, going into his third year, what would anyone else want that he hasn't done? He finished off his rookie year playing well. Last year was solid. But you know, people look at the playoff game. Well, you know what, if Eli had played well in the playoff game they would have only scored seven points instead of getting shut out. They were going to lose no matter how he played. That game wasn't his fault. There's no doubt that this year, mentally and physically, he'll be better. Will that be the difference in their team? I doubt it. I know this – he won't hold them back. He'll propel them forward. There are too many people on the team that have to step up, not just the quarterback.

Q: But as quarterback, he's the leader on that offense . . .

A: When they say, ‘They're going to go as far as the quarterback can take them' don't talk to me. I don't want to hear it. For one thing pro football doesn't work that way. It's the (whole) team. He will hold his end of the bargain up.

Q: When you look at Eli Manning's numbers last year, you can see he improved over his rookie year, plus the fact they won the division. How do you evaluate a quarterback?

A: When it comes to evaluating quarterbacks, I only go by my evaluation. I couldn't tell you a quarterback's rating, completion percentage, nothing. When I do games, I don't even look at that. I watch the games; I have a perception. And I deal with that because I think my perception tells me the truth.

Football is not baseball. I can't quantify a quarterback's performance through numbers. But I can by feel and what other players and coaches say when they talk about him. Even if they don't tell me something, I read between the lines. That's how I do it and I think it's a pretty accurate way of doing it.

Q: That said, do you think he'll make a big improvement this season?

A: I saw the big improvement from his first year to last year. I don't think the improvement will be as dramatic. The Giants might go 10-6. God forbid his quarterback rating goes down and his TD-to-interception ratio might not be as good, but (even if it does) he could play a whole lot better.

Q: Why do you think Eli will be better this year?

A: When you have talent as an NFL quarterback, and he has the talent to succeed, you become a better thrower, usually, every year. Because you just learn to control that football better. It's all about control. No matter what the football experts say, and Dan Marino and I just laughed about this, it's all about throwing that ball. Don't give me all this, ‘He's a winner, and he can deliver in the moment.' That's just crap. It's about throwing that ball. You know it's amazing: when you can really throw that ball, it's amazing you can make plays. It's like the fastest guy usually wins the 100 meters. Great throwers make big plays in NFL games.

Q: Do you think it's harder to play quarterback today than when you played?

A: Physically, I don't think (playing quarterback) is as hard as it was in the 1970s or ‘80s. They're not asked to make as many throws. If you go back and look at plays in the ‘60s, ‘70s and early ‘80s, if someone threw a 10-yarder it was dump. It was a very aggressive, downfield throwing game back then. You had to hold it longer and take more hits. And now there's such a variety of plays that I think, physically, makes it easier to play quarterback. Are they thinking more today? Yes. But quarterbacks are playing with better athletes now. They start (training) early in high school and college.

Q: The one player who will help take the pressure off Eli this season is Tiki Barber. He had a phenomenal year in 2005. At age 31, how much do you think he has left?

A: I think running backs are easy to spot when they lose a half a step. Just like you can see someone after a year and can tell they've aged, same thing with running backs. You can see them run the next season and decide right away whether they've lost a step. I have seen no drop-off in Tiki Barber yet in his career, not even the slightest. I see him having another big year.

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