Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings, a ton of statistics, the head seat at the table of all-time great New York Giants quarterbacks, and the respect of all around the league. But that doesn’t mean he’ll ever allow himself to get complacent and rest on his laurels.
Even on off days, Manning is seen on the sideline calling out plays as the de facto offensive coordinator, pulling guys aside to give instructions and pointers – and it doesn’t matter if it’s a neophyte like rookie tight end Evan Engram or veteran stalwart wideout Brandon Marshall.
Manning is always on the go, always teaching, always staying ready – even when he’s not in uniform. Such diligence and work ethic are the primary reasons for the universal respect he receives from his teammates and coaching staff. And it’s also why, he — not Marshall, not the star-studded defense, and not even spectacular wideout Odell Beckham Jr. — is the key to the Giants’ success this upcoming season.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan recently spoke in reverence of Manning’s preparation and explained why such work ethic and “new toys” will potentially help make the 2017-18 season the quarterback’s best campaign yet.
“I think his preparation has been what it has always been in terms of exemplary. I think there is a sense of confidence he has at this point in this system, having so many years under his belt,” Sullivan said. “Obviously there are some new toys for him to play with, which he is very excited about. I think we are very excited from a coaching staff standpoint in terms of the adjustments he has made when he is turning loose after practice. I think he is taking great care of himself physically and we feel like he is in great position to be at his best during the regular season.”
Head coach Ben McAdoo noted that Manning will get “a big chunk of playing time into the second quarter” during the Giants’ second preseason game, Monday night.
The future Hall of Famer didn’t play in the preseason opener, but Sullivan said Manning is always ready, so rust won’t be an issue heading into their matchup at the Cleveland Browns.
“Eli is always ready to go,” Sullivan noted, adding the even-keeled nature is also something of which to marvel. “He’s someone that we all know is steady, very even keeled, [and] he doesn’t get rattled.”
Marshall is learning on the fly about Manning’s nature, underrated competitive fire, and attention to detail. The wideout, who has 941 career receptions and a ton of accolades himself, was amazed at the way Manning teaches and fine tunes. Marshall said even something as small as a route he ran in practice that was “maybe two steps off” was corrected and adjusted. Marshall has worked with countless quarterbacks, and gave kudos to all, but he reasoned that Manning’s level of perfectionism is on a different level.
“I’ve never really been in a no-huddle offense, the tempo is like learning a new language because everything is non-verbal communication. So, that was initially difficult for me. But he’s stuck with me [after practices] and I’m in a really comfortable place now,” Marshall said, adding Manning is always at the ready to talk football, whether it’s at their lockers, in meetings, the shower, or even at the dining hall. “He’s walked into the locker room many times and took me through five minutes of just throwing things at me, seeing where I was … He’s challenging me every second he gets.”
Marshall is about as smart and detailed a receiver as there ever was one, so for him to admit he was initially lost in the new system shows just how complex McAdoo’s playbook can be. And for Manning to help guide him through at every turn is appreciated.
“This offense, a lot of it is non-verbal, and with Eli, he’s so detailed. He’s probably the most detailed quarterback I’ve been around. It took me up until two weeks ago to get this one route down,” Marshall said. “But he’s always coaching. And he just kept coaching me and walking me through it until I got it down … He’s special. He’s really detailed.”
Special enough to get that third Super Bowl ring, and fifth in franchise history? Time will tell. But if that quest doesn’t get completed, it won’t be due to a lack of effort and preparation from No. 10.