Eli Manning, 01.03.11

Q: What's it like the morning after?
A: Bittersweet I guess. I'm happy about the win, and it would be worse if we didn't get the win yesterday. At least after two tough games, we responded back and won the last game of the season. We knew we had a chance. We needed some help, and we knew we had to handle our business and get a win. We accomplished that part of it, but overall, I'm disappointed in the outcome of the season. We thought we had potential. We thought we had players to make it in the playoffs and make a run, and we didn't accomplish that. We didn't play well enough at times of the season to make it into the playoffs.

Q: Looking back, was the biggest issue with protecting the ball?
A: No, I don't think that's - obviously we have to do a better job protecting the ball, I don't know if that was always the reason that we lost all our games. Some turnovers came at the end of games when you're trying to get back into it. I think obviously, yeah too many turnovers, that's definitely an area that we have to correct. There are other things that we have to correct that sometimes lead to turnovers, and that's something we'll look at in the offseason, why some of the turnovers and why, on my part, interceptions were occurring. I think it just comes down to playing better football and being in better situations when we were finding ways to finish games and finding ways to be more successful on third downs. We weren't very good at that throughout the season. I thought we did - our first down production, I think we were number one in the NFL in first down production whether we're running, play action, but on third down our passing game was not as effective. You can look at different reasoning for that. Obviously, going through a number of receivers, we had receivers in and out. We still did well. We had one receiver with 1,000 yards and Mario was about 50 yards short of having 1,000 yards. Our receiver that made the Pro Bowl last year wasn't one of those guys and was hurt. We dealt with some issues but I thought we responded well with some of the circumstances we were in.

Q: What's it like walking in today knowing that you're not going to be in the playoffs?
A: Compared to last year, the attitude is a little bit better this year than last year. We did finish with a win. We did win 10 games. Overall, it's still disappointing. When you think of the season, I think it will be a little bit easier. It won't feel as long of an offseason just because of the fact that you feel we were better and we got better than last year. We were improved. We were at least in some games and in some tight games, we just didn't pull out. That's the NFL, those games. You can look at both the Philadelphia games. Right there, it came down to the fourth quarter. We get a break or we play a little smarter and make a play here or there, you get some wins right there, it'd be a whole new season. You never know in the NFL and this league, you never know which games will be the difference maker, whether you make the playoffs or not. That's the thing you have to think about. It could be a game from week three or a game from week eight might be a difference on whether you make the playoffs or not. You have to take every game seriously, be prepared. You can't afford to have a mental lapse or a game where you take it for granted.


Q: Do you think there are flaws in the playoff system since a 7-9 team is in the playoffs and gets a home game?
A: No, I think obviously we made the playoffs one year being 8-8. That's the way it works. We knew our circumstances and we knew our situation, and you have to play to that situation. I don't look at it that way. You have your division, and you have to win your division. That's the ultimate goal. When you start the season, you keep track of what everybody else is doing and you see kind of where you line up and what you have to do to make it in the playoffs and what games you have to win. I think making it into the playoffs in the NFL is tough, it's not easy. That's what makes it special and what makes the game great. That's what makes the playoffs so exciting is the challenge not only to get in, but then you know once you get in, there aren't many teams and all these teams are playing good football.

Q: How much did the changing of receivers affect communication and limit the game plan?
A: Obviously it affects your game plan. You're trying to move receivers around, and it's tough. You kind of have some guys, evidently it was Steve Smith. Hey, he was our slot guy. Third down and he's our slot guy. He has a great feel and he's been doing it for four years, and that's kind of what you practice. You keep working with him, and then all of the sudden you lose a guy like him. You bring in Derek Hagan, and he's playing the slot, he does a great job but hey let's mix it up and put Manningham in the slot some. Let's put Hakeem in there. On paper, you kind of draw it up and you think they know what they're doing, but all of the sudden, you get to rep it one or two times in practice, but a game comes up and you get different coverage and you have a little pressure and you have to move around and your timing is just off. There is only so much time you have to rep those things. So yeah, it definitely affects those things and we weren't as sharp as we needed to be on some of our route running and decision making just because we're having different guys move around each week. Every week, it seemed like Manningham was playing a new spot. Hey, Hakeem is back so Manningham you're back to the Z. Hakeem is hurt, and you're back to the X. Both Steve and Hakeem are back healthy, so you'll be playing both a little bit this week. On three wides, you guys are playing here. So it's just guys moving around, and that's tough. Obviously injuries are part of it and you have to adjust sometimes, but we just kind of had a roller coaster of different receivers in and out. It can be difficult and I thought we did some things really well. When we had both Hakeem and Steve Smith out in games, they were 3-0 in those games. We adjusted well under some of those circumstances.

Q: Could the offense have been streamlined to minimize those miscommunications?
A: No, and we did that. We took that into account, but you still have to run your offense. You still have to put guys in circumstances where they have to make good decisions and you have to see what they can do. Sometimes you're not going to know that until you try it out in game-like situations. A lot of times you do that in preseason and do that in games and you hope they get better, but all of the sudden, you get late in the season and you don't have time to try things out. You have to make a decision and give it a shot. If it doesn't work one or two times in a game, that was a bad idea and we have to try someone else. You want to try to, when you have the young guys, you put them in there and give them time early in the season to learn and adjust and hope they get better. When you get into the end of the season and you're talking playoffs, you don't have a whole lot of time to give guys the ability to learn and improve. They have to come in and do it well right away.

Q: Do you look at Tom Coughlin and say he has enough left in the tank to put together a nice little run?
A: Definitely. Coach Coughlin is one of the most prepared and energetic coaches. He loves being the coach of the New York Giants. He loves football, loves coming in every day and the excitement of preparing, practicing, and playing the games. The players feel that energy and that passion and it rubs off on us. I think guys have a lot of respect for him, trust him, and know that he's going to get us prepared to play.

Q: How much do you take on your shoulders going into the offseason?
A: A lot of it. I put a lot on my shoulders and I have to get better. I'm not a 25-interception quarterback. I think obviously that's got to be fixed. We have to fix that. That's on me, the receivers, and everybody doing that, but most of it's on me. I can't dwell just on that, you have to look at some positives. I also threw for 31 touchdowns and threw for over 4,000 yards and those are some good things. Those are some positives to build off, and so we had a lot of big plays in the pass game. We were explosive and led the league in touchdowns over 20 yards. Those things are good things to do. As a receiving corps, hopefully we can get things going. We have some guys injured right now, get them back and get back to working out and having a great offseason. Get back, fix some things, get better, and see where we can improve. How do we improve? A lot of my interceptions came on third down. On first and second down with our play action stuff, we were really good hitting big plays, not turning the ball over, and being successful. On third down, we weren't as sharp. It's something I have to look at and get with the coaches and see how we're going to get better converting and also not turning the ball over.

Q: Do you find yourself sometimes doing too much in those situations and that resulted in a turnover?
A: Probably sometimes. I think a lot of it was late in games. If you look at some of them, Green Bay for example, we were down 21 and that's when the interceptions start coming. I don't think the interceptions were a reason that we lost that game. They were kind of the result of being behind. There are other games where they came early in the game or in the red zone so there is room for improvement. I have to play smarter at times and be careful with the ball.

Q: How hard is it going to be if there is a lockout and you're unable to come in here and work?
A: I guess you hope for the best. I hope to be back here when we start the offseason training, whether it's in March or April or as soon as we can possibly get back. If it is delayed, then we'll make adjustments. I think if it is delayed, I think the team that handles their business and if the season starts later or the offseason is shorter, the team that is working out and the team that can get guys who are in this area to work out and be together and go over things and find a place to practice or find a place to run some routes every once in a while and work as a group. The team that can kind of stick together has a great advantage next year to have success.

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