Press Conference: Eli Manning

Eli Manning addressed the media today. Here is the transcript.

Q: How are you feeling?

A: I feel good.

Q: What's your response to the guys in Philadelphia talking about rattling you?

A: I don't read the papers, honestly, before a game.  A lot of people are going to say things.  The only thing that matters is what happens on the field, so I don't pay attention to anything.  I don't read into anything or worry about that.  My focus is on getting prepared to play Philly.  We've done some good things against them (and) they've done some good things, also.  They're a talented defense.  They give you a lot of different looks and different things.  We have a good plan, so we just have to go out there and execute it well.

Q: How much does the last game against Philadelphia stand out in your mind vs. the first one, or is it a combination of the two?

A: It's a combination of both of the games.  You look at what they did.  We did some good things against them in the last game.  We had some good plays, we just had too many bad plays.  We have four turnovers and that's the difference in the game.  We've been able to hit some big plays on them.  We've been able to move the ball decently against them.  We have to look at what we've done well and just try to eliminate the mistakes and try to get touchdowns when we get down in the green zone – something we didn't really do last time.  We haven't played poorly against them.  We just have to eliminate a few of the mistakes and figure out a way to play good football and win the game.

Q: How much of an advantage would it be to get Jeremy Shockey back against a team that is so heavy on blitzing?

A: Obviously we hope Shockey can get back.  He's a talented player, one of our weapons.  (He) has a lot of catches this year and makes big plays for us.  You definitely want your better players and your starting tight end to be out there on the field with you.

Q: Because both teams know each other well, how much of a chess match does this game become?

A: Obviously, they're going to have a new plan.  They're going to have some new blitzes and some different things.  We don't change our offense a whole lot (and) they don't change their defense a whole lot.  They have their blitzes that they do, they have their looks that they do.  They'll have a few new things they'll get into, but we have to look at what they've done in the past and be prepared for that.  And then once they give us some new looks and do some different things, we have to go on the sideline and talk about that and how we're going to attack that.  It's a combination of everything, but obviously we just have to go in there…They're going to win some plays.  They have talented players.  They do a good job of disguising things.  They're going to come out with a blitz and they're going to win that play but you have to make sure that if they guess right and we guess wrong or had a bad play, the worst you get is a throwaway or a sack.  You don't let them take that and get a turnover, get a fumble, get an interception.  You don't make a bad play into a worse play by doing that.  They'll win their plays, but we have to win our plays, also.

Q: How have the Giants' fans been so far this season?

A: Giants fans have been great.  We were playing well and everybody was behind us.  We went through a streak where we weren't playing great football and that's just part of the game.  They've been behind us and they've supported us.

Q: In what ways have you become a better quarterback this season?

A: I'm just trying to continue to try to manage the game, make smart decisions, get our team in a situation to win games in the fourth quarter and try to win them there.  We've been able to do it a few times, sometimes we haven't.  That's a part of growing up.  You're not going to win every game, you're not going to make every play, but I'm trying to get better at that and, again, put our team in a situation  to win at the end.  Hopefully we can make the plays to do that.

Q: We talked a lot in the off-season and the preseason about all of the work you put in.  Do you feel like you made the strides you wanted to this season?

A: I've made some strides.  I've played well at times and haven't (at others).  We've lost some players and some different things have happened, but I have to just continue to improve.  You never stop learning in this game.  You never stop improving on fundamentals and different things.  My goal is to get ready for Philly this week, have a great plan and go out there and execute it to the best of my ability.

Q: Given what has been said throughout the season and the magnitude of this game, do you feel more pressure than you've ever felt going into a game as a pro?

A: No.  I'm looking forward to the opportunity.  I don't think of it as pressure.  I look at it as a great experience.  We're in the playoffs.  We're playing against a rival team, in Philadelphia, a team we've already played twice this year and both of them came down to the last few minutes of the game and a tight situation.  I think it's exciting and I'm looking forward to the game.

Q: This is your second post-season game.  How much can you draw from last year's game?

A: Last season was disappointing.  We didn't play well – I didn't play well – but I think I've had 16 more games to learn and get better and just continue learning the game of football.  Whether it's a playoff game or a regular season game, you go in there with the same philosophy that you have to play smart football, you have to make first downs, you can't turn the ball over and make those kinds of mistakes.  Obviously we've learned from last year and that situation, but I've also learned from every game I've played this year and how you have to play to try to win games. 

Q: Talk about your relationship with Tim Hasselbeck and what it's meant to you off the field.

A: Tim and I have a great relationship.  He works hard.  We prepare together every week and between Tim and Jared Lorenzen, we watch films, we go over things – our game plan—and we talk a lot.  On the sideline he's been helpful.  (The) two other quarterbacks have been great in my learning curve and just continuing to have someone to talk to and go over the game plan (with).

Q: This is the second week with Kevin Gilbride running the show on offense.  Do you feel or sense a difference now that you've had some experience with him?

A: I think for the most part our game plan is similar.  Obviously there's a few changes, but that's just preparing for a team you've played twice and you make adjustments.  But I feel very comfortable with him.  I think he's comfortable in the play-calling.  Obviously last week just having him getting used to calling plays and getting personnel and everything called out and going through that was good, just to get a little practice and for us going through that.  I feel comfortable with him and I think he knows what he's doing, but again, a lot of it is just dependent on the players and going and executing the plays called.

Q: So many people on the outside are focusing on the negatives.  On the inside, what do you think is the most positive thing at this point in the season?

A: That we made it to the playoffs.  Honestly, at first, at the start of the season we're 6-2, everything was looking positive and we went through a tough point, but we didn't give up.  We won the games that we had to win to get into the playoffs.  We didn't do it easily.  We struggled at times, but we did what we had to do to get here.  A lot of people (are) saying whether we deserve to be here or not.  Well, we obviously won more games than a lot of other teams.  We played a tough schedule.  You look at every team that we played – The teams that we lost to are in the playoffs.  We played a lot of good teams and we fought hard and lost some tough games, but we're here.  Now we have an opportunity to make our point and try to win some games.

Q: Now that you're in, what gives you the most confidence that you're going to win for awhile?

A: That we've played a lot of tough teams.  We've played great opponents.  We know what it's like and know what to expect against quality teams.  We've won some, we've lost some, but for the most part we've gotten in to the end of the games.  When you get the playoff games, that's where it's going to be won.  Obviously you have to play well in the first three quarters, but hopefully you go into the fourth quarter where you have a shot and it's going to be who makes the big plays and who makes the mistakes, and who gives your team a chance to win the game.

Q: What is the weirdest or strangest thing you've seen in Philadelphia, either fan to another fan or fan to a player?

A: I haven't seen anything strange – No (stranger) than any other game.  It should be a hostile crowd and it should be a great atmosphere for a football game.

Q: When Tiki Barber gets the amount of touches he got last week, how much does that ease the burden on you and how much do you think that improves your chances?

A: Obviously if we can run the ball, that'll be helpful.  Any offense works better when you run it effectively.  You just get better at first- and second-down production, where you get into third down situations where you can throw it, you can run it…The defense is in a bind where you can get into your offense.  Some of their blitzes – if they come with their crazy blitzes you can get the ball out of your hands quickly, get the ball to people and let them get first downs, where if you're not running well you get stuck in some longer third-down possibilities where it's tougher to convert first down.  They have a good rush, they come with their blitzes and even if you get the ball out of your hands, you're short of the first down.  Obviously if we can get Tiki involved in the game – get him touches, and if we're able to run the ball well, it greatly improves our offense.

Q: There's been a change in the offensive coordinator already and there could be a change in the head coach after this season.  Does this team feel it needs to rally for the coach?

A: We're looking forward to this opportunity.  We're in the playoffs and we want to win for everybody.  We want to win for the team and all of our players and coaches.  Everybody has put a lot of hard work into the season and dedication.  We're going to go out and give it our best shot.  Hopefully we can go out there and just execute our game plan.  Our coaches have worked hard and everybody is on the same page.  It's just a matter of going out there and doing it on the field.

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