Interview: QB Eli Manning

Eli Manning answered questions for the media about the game vs. his big brother.

Q: How ready are you for Sunday?

A: I'm ready.  I've had a good week so far.  I think everybody is prepared; everybody is ready for the start of the season.  (We have) a few more days to watch more film, have another practice tomorrow and get ready to play.

Q: Is Sunday a little special because it is against your brother?

A: Sure.  That makes a difference.  It's out there, it's the first time we've gone against each other.  The first game of the season is always a big game.  It's on Sunday night, (it's the) first time NBC is doing the Sunday night game in prime time.  Your brother is going to be out there, he's going to be on the field.  It's something you'll always remember – the first time you've ever played against each other.  It should be a big game for everybody.

Q: Are you more excited to play the game or get the game over?

A: I'm excited to play the game.  That's kind of what I'm looking forward to right now, just the kickoff and let's go out there and get the first game of the season (started), and hopefully get off to a good start.  Everything counts now.  We've gone through our preseason and training camp, and now it's time to see what we've done, where we stand, how good this team can be, and what we need to improve on.  I'm looking forward to getting things going and have the game kickoff.

Q: Do you feel the media is making more about this brother against brother thing than it should be?

A: I'm not surprised that y'all are making a big deal out of it.  I think everyone has made a big deal more than Peyton and I.  We've tried to make this thing as low-key as possible.  We understand it's a good thing for the NFL (as far as) TV and the ratings, but for us, we kind of look at it as the first game of the season.  You always want to get a win that first game and we go against – it's two playoff teams going.  We have to play against a team that's made the playoffs the last couple of years and started off the season 13-0 last year.  It's a tough challenge for us, so we're going to have to go out there and play good football to try to get a win.

Q: Would you be looking at this game as away to gauge how far you've progressed, even if it wasn't against Peyton?

A: Yeah.  I think the first game of a new season – last year was my first year as a starting quarterback all year long.  I did some good things and did some bad things.  When it's your third year, and another year you have under your belt, you're going to be more prepared for things.  Hopefully, my game has improved in my decision-making and just my overall performance to manage the game has gotten better.  There's still going to be some downs and stuff, but I should be able to play better football than I did last year.

Q: How intrigued are to see how this defense performs against the Colts?

A: I think our defense (has) a big challenge in front of them, also.  The Colts in the past have put some numbers up and done good things, but our defense is prepared.  They've worked hard (and) they've been playing well in the preseason.  They're going to be ready and they're going to be well-prepared to go out there and play fast football and hopefully make some big plays.  We're going to try to do our job on offense, try to control the clock some, and try to keep their offense off the field as much as we can.

Q: Are you in charge of getting tickets to this game for your parents, or is Peyton?

A: The tickets…we went through Reebok for my parents.  Usually they sit in the stands and just watch the game.  With this game, I think my Dad kind of…he didn't want to have the TVs on him, making it about him.  If something happens where he's making a face…He's going to stay in the box. I had to get some tickets for family members.  Peyton – Sometimes (for) the visiting team, it's a little bit easier to get tickets for the game, so he had to get some also.  We just kind of split it up.

Q: Are there entourages rooting for one team or the other?

A: I don't know.  I think everybody's just going to root for the offense and go from there.

Q: Are you going to see Peyton on Saturday?

A: No, I will not see Peyton on Saturday.

Q: You two usually talk on a regular basis.  When can the phone calls resume?

A: We've talked during this training camp.  I talked to him on Tuesday.  I'll probably talk to him tomorrow – Friday night is usually our night to talk.  We still have conversations.  It hasn't affected our relationship, by any means.  Our conversation is a little different now – no football is being spoken at all.  We're afraid to say the slightest little thing about anything because you feel like the other guy is taking notes.  Basically, it's mainly just been about what's been going on and ‘How's practice going?' ‘It's going good.' It hasn't been about football.

Q: Peyton said you two were talking in movie quotes.  Which movies?

A: A lot of our movie quotes are from old (movies), or something that we…I haven't seen any movies in awhile, so – We do a lot of Vacation, Caddyshack.

Q: After the game, will one of you rub it in a little more?

A: No.  The way Peyton and my relationship is, we've never competed much.  We're not the type to rub it in, or this is going to be something we brag about, or in three years it's going to come up.  It's not going to be spoken about, really.  I think both of us will see each other, we'll congratulate each other and wish each other well in the rest of the season.  I think we'll just let it go by and go from there.

Q: Will your time on the sideline allow you to even see what your brother is doing during the course of the game?

A: I always watch our defense.  After you make your adjustments and figure out what the Colts defense is doing and talk to your coaches and players, you watch the game and see what's going on and how our defense is doing.  You get into the game, you get excited when they make big plays.  I'll keep up with the game and see what's going on.

Q: How is your mom dealing with all of this?

A: My mom is doing fine.  She got here on Tuesday with my dad.  She's been shopping around and everything is normal to her.  My mom doesn't get too nervous, I don't think, at games.  She has some of her family here and friends.  She'll be watching the game and she'll be fine.

Q: It seems like she hasn't seen you compete as much as your dad did in the backyard.

A: It's not like we're in a fight or anything and we're throwing punches at each other.  I think she'll be ok.  She'll be the same.  She'll root for the offense, hug the both of us, go out there and…hope for both of us to stay healthy.

Q: Is last year's playoff loss weighing on your mind at all going into this game?

A: The first game is always a big game of the season to try to get a win.  It is at home.  We'll have our crowd here and our fans.  We want to start off on a good note, so we have to go out there and try to play good football and get the fans into it early – get them excited, hope they can be loud when the Colts have the ball to make it hard for Peyton communicating to his team.

Q: How do you think Peyton is going to react to the hype of this game on Sunday night?

A: I think Peyton will do what he always does.  He'll be well-prepared and hopefully our defense will step up and make some plays and make things tough on him, and our fans will be loud and those things.  He's a good quarterback and it'll be good to see what happens and hope that our defense makes good plays.

Q: Do you think Peyton is the best quarterback in the NFL, and, if so, is he a benchmark for you?

A: I think Peyton is definitely one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, if not the best, and in my opinion he is the best.  I like him, I like what he does, and he's definitely a benchmark in what I need to do (to) raise my level of play to get to the level that he's playing the game right now.

Q: How would you describe your relationship with Coach Coughlin, and what has he done for you?

A: Coach Coughlin and I have a good relationship.  From early on, he challenged me and gave me a lot of different projects to do – watching film and taking notes, drawing up defenses and those things.  I've done everything that I could to try to meet those goals that he's set out for me.  I've also challenged myself with different things to learn the game and our offense.  I tried to figure out as much information as I could at an early stage.  We talk to each other during the week, and he sets out different things for me to look at.  I think our relationship is good, and we're where we need to be.

Q: A lot of quarterbacks improve significantly between year two and year three.  Do you expect that from yourself?

A: You see some quarterbacks make a big step, but it's not something that just happens. ‘Hey, it's year three, he's going to be better just because it's year three.'  It's because you work hard, the players around you are understanding things more, you surround yourself with better players – it's a lot of things.  I've worked hard to get better, to improve my game, through film work in the off-season and through training camp.  I have a better understanding of things.  It's still a matter of everybody playing well together, you're your whole team – your offense being on the same page and combining everybody's message to be one goal of winning the game.

Q: Have you, through Peyton, gotten to know any of the Colts defenders on a personal level?

A: I've met some of the players.  I've been to Indianapolis before for the Final Four and met Freeney and some of the defensive players and stuff.  I wouldn't say I'm close pals – I don't talk to any of them, but I've met some of the players that we'll be facing Sunday night.

Q: Did you ever think to yourself that it would be great to play against Peyton someday?

A: I really never had the thought of us playing each other.  It was never a dream of mine, or anything.  Really the first time that it hit me that it might happen was when I was getting ready for the draft – thinking about what teams…You kind of start hearing rumors (about) what teams are interested and thinking about what's going to happen.  I started thinking about, if you're in the same conference, or there's a chance you might be in the same division.  That's the first time I'd ever really thought about playing each other.  It was never a dream of mine where I was looking forward to this moment for a long time.

Q: What have your teammates said to you about this week?

A: No one's said anything different from any other week, not in an inspirational way.  A lot of it's more giving me hell about something.  I know they're ready for this game, and it's an important game for everybody.  It doesn't make it bigger – it's the first game of the season.  Everybody's excited about it and everybody's looking forward to it.

Q: Is Cooper coming to the game, and what does he think about all of this?

A: Cooper is coming. I think he's already in town also.  I think he's proud of us – he's proud of his two younger brothers and what we've accomplished and where we are right now.  He'll be looking forward to the game and I think he's excited about it.

Q: How much more comfortable are you in the locker room this year than last year?

A: I was comfortable in the locker room last year and this year I feel the same.  My comfort level, and just handling our different players – everybody has to be handled differently, from your receivers to backs, tight ends, and just understanding the personality of each one.  You can't treat everybody (the same).  Some people respond differently to different tactics, and whether they made a good play or a bad play in handling that.  I think I'm more comfortable with that, and taking charge and getting everybody in the right mode and attitude that they need to be in to be prepared to the best of their ability.

RE: The Colts defense

A: The Colts defense is very good. They were one of the top defenses in the league last year.  They are built around speed.  They get to a quarterback with a four-man rush and that enables them to take a lot of chances and be risky in the secondary.  Whatever they see, they rush to the ball, they turn the ball over and make some big plays.  We have a big challenge in front of us.  Hopefully we'll be able to run the ball and, when we do pass, protect up front and hopefully we'll be able to have enough time for guys to get open.

Q: Did the hype last year before the San Diego game give you an idea of what to expect for this?

A: Hopefully the fans here won't be booing me the whole game like they were in San Diego.  I guess the hype might be similar, but it's still a game and you have to go in there and have your plan and try to execute to the best of your ability.

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