Eli Manning is a people pleaser by nature and one of the good guys in the National Football League. But during tonight’s preseason primetime matchup (ESPN) against the Cleveland Browns, he’ll finally be playing for the first time this exhibition season, so he’ll be looking for others to please him.
This will be the first time he’ll play with his full allotment of weapons, so for the 14-year veteran, as long as everyone knows their assignments and gets on the same page, he’ll be very pleased.
And as far as pleasing the plethora of perimeter talent, Manning said he’d like to make everyone happy and get his receivers as many touches as possible, but he’d rather focus on just making sure the offense runs smoothly.
“I think you want to get everybody involved. I think that’s good and that’s when we’ll be at our best, when we have all the guys getting catches, [and] feeling involved in the offense. But you can’t get overly concerned if someone doesn’t have a catch, [because] then you have to go out of your way to force a throw to them and that’s going to affect the team,” Manning said. “I’d like to have everybody have eight catches in a game, all the receivers. It’s not going to happen … [but] they all have to be ready and they have to get open.”
Among the “new toys,” as offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan likes to call them, is wideout Brandon Marshall and rookie first-round tight end Evan Engram. Marshall reasoned that Manning is the most detailed-oriented quarterback he’s played with during his long career, while Manning has lauded the wideout for his ability to pick up an entirely new offense. Manning has also propped up Engram, noting how smooth and explosive he’s been in practice.
He’ll no doubt be excited to finally play with his full arsenal for the first time, but added it’ll take some more live action to get everyone in unison.
“I think any time you get some live game exposure, you are trying to get on the same page as your receivers. We got a couple new receivers. Make sure everybody is sound in our communication and we are all on the same page, doing the right things. And for the first time in eight months, it is live,” Manning said. “The way we’ve kind of been told is you’re not always going to know where the receivers might be exactly and you don’t know the coverage. Everything can be different.”
Head coach Ben McAdoo didn’t say how long Manning and co. will be on the field for the New York Giants in Cleveland, but however long it is, Manning said it’s important to get in and out of the right plays – and a chance to be freer at the line of scrimmage against a different defense other than his own.
Being able to make checks and audibles against a foreign opponent will only help in the gelling of the offense, he reasoned.
“That is big,” Manning said of the chance to get everyone on the same page against a different adversary. “I think you are always going to learn something from every practice, but especially from every game action. They’ll play different coverages or you get a different look and you have to adjust and learn from it. So, for some of the new guys, we will learn together and be on the same. It is a great opportunity to go out there and be tested.”
And while he admitted that he doesn’t necessarily like to get hit (“I don’t know anyone that looks forward to it”), Manning noted that the chance to get physical is a necessary evil for him to get back in rhythm.
“I know that those guys can hit me [and] they can tackle me. So, I think that getting used to that, feeling things in the pocket, not looking at the rush, but feeling the rush and buying a little extra time or moving in the pocket and finding a completion is a good thing,” Manning said, adding that sitting out the preseason opener was something he still has to get used to, but doesn’t think it’ll be much of a deterrent. “It’s still awkward … I like to finally get to play a little and compete.”
Finally getting to compete in live action will definitely please the future Hall of Famer.