Q: What do you think of all of the hype?
A: Involving what?
Q: With your brother and you?
A: Oh, ok. I'm just excited that the regular season is finally here. It seems like the longer you play, the preseason gets a little bit longer and about the third preseason game, you're kind of looking forward to the regular season. We're excited that the opener is finally here. In the nine years that I've been playing, opening night or day is the closest thing in the regular season to a playoff atmosphere. That's surely what we expect up there in New York. And the fact that it's NBC prime time and it's their first game on Sunday back into the mix, it's just going to be a great atmosphere up there. I know both teams are excited to play in a game that counts, and that's kind of what we're looking forward to at this point.
Q: There's been so much talk about you and Eli in this game. How much have the two of you talked about it?
A: He and I really haven't talked about it a whole lot. Obviously everyone else talks about it a lot, and the hype, as the guy mentioned, that certainly hasn't come from he and I. We've tried to fulfill interview requests that obviously have been multiple, but we certainly haven't promoted it or tried to promote it ourselves. Everyone else has brought it up or talked about it. Eli and I are very similar, as far as our preparation and just our focus and trying to be great players for our teams. Everybody wants to win their opening game. It certainly provides just a good taste in your mouth going into the season if you can be 1-0, so everyone puts a lot of emphasis on opening game. It's going to be a tough ballgame on Sunday.
Q: You must realize that the odds of this happening are pretty enormous.
A: It's certainly unique. Like I said, I'm real proud of Eli. Eli's had a ton of pressure on him for a long time with the comparisons to my dad there at Ole Miss, where he played, to my brother Cooper there at Ole Miss, who is a social legend at Ole Miss. Those are big shoes for Eli to fill. And with me playing in the SEC and playing the same position. Eli's always handled it very well, and I've enjoyed just watching him play. I haven't gotten a chance to see him play in person a whole lot, just a few times in college. I actually have not seen him play in person in the NFL yet, but I've seen all of his games on TV or I usually record his games if I don't get to see it live and try to keep up with him and his career. It certainly is unique, and, like I said, I'm proud to be his older brother.
Q: What will you say to Eli when you speak to him later in the week?
A: We talked yesterday briefly. Usually we talk on Thursday nights and we've been doing this since college. I'd call him and he'd tell me about Georgia's defense and I'd tell him about the Dolphins' defense a little bit, and we'd compare some X's and O's. We've done that some in the NFL, too. If the Giants are getting ready to play the Eagles or we're getting ready to play the Titans, we'll share some notes. Obviously I don't think we'll have that same content of conversation this week, but we'll probably talk Friday or Saturday. Maybe Saturday when the plane arrives there, in New Jersey. But as far as the content of conversation, probably pretty normal brother conversation. How are you feeling, what's going on, and the same old, same old. As far as football talk, it's pretty limited on that basis.
Q: Is there more pressure on you in this game because you're the big brother?
A: I think there's pressure on every starting quarterback in the NFL on opening day. For most teams to win in the regular season, opening day, the quarterback usually needs to play well for that team to win. There are 32 starters, it's a unique position, and I'm biased, I think it's the toughest position out there. Like I said, I think there's pressure on every quarterback, so the thing between me and Eli, I can't really give you who has more pressure on him. I've been playing nine years and I've been dealing with a lot of expectations for every single season. That's part of what comes with the job, and that's why you like having the job, to be able to execute and make plays. That will be the case for us this season.
Q: Do you think you were rattled at all by the Pittsburgh defense in last years' playoffs, and can teams use that against you?
A: That's not the word that I use. I've never really used that word or thought that word was appropriate. It's very much of a copy-cat league, and I think most teams â€¦When you're playing a team, usually you study other teams' films and see what worked well against these teams and what didn't work well. A lot of teams will use what other teams do. I think the Giants very much have their own identity, though. They have excellent players and they do what they do and do it well. That's what you have to deal with when you're playing these guys. You have to be able to find a way to block (Michael) Strahan and Osi (Umenyiora), and find a way to get open on (Sam) Madison and (Corey) Webster, and find a way to contain (Gibril) Wilson and (Will) Demps at safety. It's all 11 guys, plus their nickel and dime guys are all very good football players and all bring a little something to the table. That's what you're dealing with when you play these guys. At the same time, there's still some basic football theories that come into play about doing your job well, be able to block and tackle and being able to play a little pitch and catch. Ultimately, it's the team that does the little things better that usually wins.
Q: Do you think you're past the point in your career, or maybe it never happened to you, that a defense could rattle you?
A: I still think, even in nine years, you're learning. You're always seeing things, and I think especially with our offense, I think we see different defenses and different looks every single week. Teams very often will play something one week and against us play something totally different. You prepare for what you see on film, and you have to be prepared to adjust during the course of the game. We've been dealing with that for really the last seven or eight years, especially. We've kind of gone to this style of offense, a no-huddle offense and primarily a one-back offense. I think defenses do like to give us multiple looks and different things, and once again, you're trying to figure it out but at the same time you'd better be good at the basic things that you do if you want to have a chance to be successful.
Q: How concerned are you about the running game? You didn't do much with it in the preseason.
A: No, we didn't. It's something that we certainly want to be a part of our offense. People consider us a passing offense somewhat, a down the field offense, but if you look back at the history of our offense, it's been a pretty balanced offense where we've had a good mix of first and second down run game, drop back passing and play-action passing. And for all of those three things to be successful, you certainly have to have a successful running game. That's been the big question: since we lost Edgerrin James are we going to be able to run the ball, and the answer is, we hope so. That is the plan, to be able to run the ball. If we don't run the ball, it would be a challenge to our offense, because that's what our offense is about. It's about being balanced, about being three-dimensional. We're excited about the backs we have in Dominic (Rhodes) and Joe Addai and we certainly need to be able to run the ball if we're going to have a chance against the Giants.
Q: Can you talk about Eli's maturation as a quarterback, from what you've seen?
A: I think he's improved every year since he's been a starting quarterback, from college to the NFL. The good quarterbacks, the smart quarterbacks, are the ones who can use the experience from the year before to their advantage and improve from it, and he's certainly done that. One of my goals every year is to be a better player than I was the year before. I can honestly say that I feel that I have, in nine years, been a better player than I was the year before. I think Eli has just gotten better every year. Physically, he's bigger and stronger (than) he ever has been, and his arm is as live as it ever has been. I think that he's used the situations that he's been in, whether it's a two-minute situation, red zone situation, and tried to learn from the things that he did well, the things that he maybe could have done better. But nobody has worked harder than him this off-season. Every time I talked to him he was leaving the complex. He lives there year-round and he's very committed to that team and that organization, which, as a quarterback, that's what you have to do. You're getting paid a lot of money, and there's an obligation and a responsibility that comes with that to improve your level of play every single off-season. That's my philosophy, and that's what Eli's done as well.
Q: With all the motion that you have, how tough do you think you make it on defenses, and how often do you run into a defense that you think is up to the challenge?
A: I think every Sunday, especially when you're going into an opener or you're going against a team after a bye week when a team's had time to get ready, you're certainly going to see a number of different looks. That's just kind of part of it â€¦ That's just what teams like to do against us, is give us multiple looks. Ultimately, though, to me it still comes down to the players. Good players are what make a good defense and when you have a LaVar Arrington, when you have an (Antonio) Pierce, when you have Strahan and Osi on the outside, those are excellent football players and that's what allows a defensive coordinator to have a good defense. Tim Lewis couldn't do the things that he does on defense if he didn't have the players. And when you combine schemes like he has with good players, it makes for a good defense. We're going to have our hands full moving the ball against these guys because they present challenges as far as their personnel. They're excellent up front, fast at linebacker. Between Madison, who I've played against for a long time and has great experience, Webster is a young corner who covers a lot of ground, and Wilson and Demps are there. They're strong across the board.
Q: Are there things technically at your end that you want to improve on this year?
A: Yeah, people always ask me that. I study everything about my game all off-season. I study every angle and get into very specific, the throws to the right, throws to the left. I study the sack tapes, study the interception tape, study the touchdown tape. You really try to break it down very specifically and realize what things you did well, what things you can do better on. I've tried to do that every single year, and it's served me well in the following season.
Q: Is there one specific area that you're focused on now?
A: Not in particular. Just trying to be a better player, a better decision-maker, making the plays at the right time to help my team win games. That's my goal every year. I try to do my job at the highest level in order to help my team win games. If that means throwing it 40 times, if that means handing it off 35 times or handing it off on 3rd and five, or going for it on fourth and three, whatever it is, trying to do my job to put our team in the best situation to win.
Q: How is your mother handling the buildup to this match-up?
A: I think she's excited about it. She's proud of all of her sons. I'm sure they're somewhat nervous, because last year both the Colts and the Giants were 1-0 after the opening game. We beat Baltimore and the Giants beat the Rams, so I know my parents are happy when both the Colts and the Giants win, and last year that happened quite a few times with the Giants winning 11 and us winning 14. That's not going to be the case this Sunday. But they're proud, but my mom, I think I've used this before, most Sundays she pulls for us both to stay healthy. I'm sure they're looking for a lot of offense as well.
Q: In the off-season, did you and Eli discuss his drop-off statistically?
A: No. I try to be there as a resource for Eli. If he has questions for me, I try to answer them. But he has great coaches and he's addressed the things that he wanted to work on this off-season. He's very meticulous and serious about his preparation and his study habits. That's not something that I'm involved in. I try to be there to help him if he has a question, but most of the time when he makes a mistake he knows what happened and he knows how to correct it. And I believe that he will.
Q: What is your relationship with Tony Dungy like, and what has he meant to your career?
A: I've enjoyed playing for him going on five years now. Obviously what you see with Coach Dungy on the sidelines is what you get. He's a super coach and just an outstanding person. I think one of his best qualities is finding a way to get his players to play hard for him and to give their best effort. That's one of the ultimate responsibilities of a coach, is to get the most out of your players. Players want to do well, and therefore his players are giving him outstanding effort. I've learned a lot from him, he and I have talked a lot of football. We certainly talk a lot about defenses, and I can pick his brain about defenses and about defensive coordinators' philosophies and see if that can help my game somewhat. From that standpoint, he's been helpful in my career.
Q: Are there any regrets when you think back on the end of last season when players were rested?
A: You can always second-guess, and of course, hindsight is 20-20. It's one of those situations where whatever the coach decided to do, as a player you try to make the best of the situation and try to go and win a ballgame when it comes around. People have analyzed that, and certainly understanding the situation, it's fair to analyze. If it happens again, I'm not sure what we'll do this time. That's the coach's decision.
Q: Is it hard for you to believe Eli will be in the position he'll be in on Sunday night?
A: Nobody pulls harder for Eli than I do. I watch all of his games and I pull hard for him, and I've just been extremely proud of him. Eli and I have been very supportive of one another. I'm a very loyal brother to both of my brothers, both Cooper and Eli. I'm very defensive of both of them and very loyal to both of them. I'm just proud of him and his career. It's not a surprise to me that he is where he is, because he has outstanding ability, but also you combine his positive attitude and his work ethic. It's no surprise he's a starting NFL quarterback, and a darn good one at that.
Q: Personality-wise, what's the difference between you two?
A: I think the one difference is just because of our backgrounds. I was eight years old when my dad retired. Eli was three. I sort of grew up around football. I grew up going to Saints practices and I grew up going to locker rooms after games and meeting NFL players after games. Eli didn't grow up in that environment, and so he didn't see my dad necessarily as a pro football player. He didn't see pro football players over at my dad's house on weekends. I did grow up in that environment and that had an influence on me and an effect on me. That's been one of the differences, just the way we were raised somewhat. But as far as when it comes to the quarterback personality, (we're) very similar - very intense about our preparation and both of us want to win very badly.
Indianapolis Quarterback Peyton Manning
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