Former QBs: Transition won't be easy for Eli Manning

Eli Manning - Donald Miralle

Ex-QBs think the Giants new offensive scheme will help Eli Manning, but admit the learning curve is steep.

Rich Gannon is the latest former NFL quarterback to opine that the transition to a completely new offensive scheme won't be an easy one for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

"I think Eli's going to love it,'' Gannon told The Post, "once he gets his arms around it.

"There's risk involved when you take a guy like Eli, who's so established in his career and has had great success, now all of a sudden you make a dramatic change.''

The Giants, of course, have dramatically altered the approach to their passing game this offseason. Gone is the high-risk, high-reward vertical, play-action attack of Kevin Gilbride that involved complicated option routes. That led to big plays, but also contributed over the years to Manning's high interception totals and lower completion percentage. In its place is the get-the-ball-out-quick West Coast-based scheme of Ben McAdoo.

As we have gone over many times, this is the first time in his 11-year career the 33-year-old Manning has had to learn a new offensive system. The transition will require Manning to execute shorter, quicker throws that have not been his strength during the first 10 years of his career.

"I think his accuracy, once he gets comfortable in the system, he’ll improve dramatically,’’ Gannon said. "We always talk about trust your feet, your feet will take you to the completion.

"You look at his career completion percentage, what is it, around 58 percent? It’s not great. That number has to be at 65 percent. You got to shoot for the stars at 70 percent and come in there at about 65, 67 percent. Anything below 60 percent in our league right now is unacceptable.’’

ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski also recently spoke about Manning's learning curve in the new system:

"It will be an adjustment for Eli. I can't just say it's going to be great," Jaworski said. "It's going to take some time. In my career, I played for four different teams in a lot of different systems, and it's like learning another language. It takes time, so it will be interesting to see how quickly Eli can assimilate into a new offense."

Valentine's View

I have said many times that the transition won't be without pain, and without some missteps along the way. It won't always look smooth, which was obvious during the recent OTA media members were allowed to witness, and it will take time to master.

Before OTAs began Manning recognized the challenge:

"You’ve got to learn new things, different techniques, different fundamentals. A lot going on, the mind’s swimming a little bit right now," he said.

Now that his ankle has healed and he is able to take full reps, Manning seems to be embracing the change:

"It’s been a learning experience, learning a new offense. Some different timed stuff, different protections. I like everything, everything makes sense," Manning said last week. "We’re at the very early stages. I like where we’re heading and the options that this offense gives the quarterback and the whole team to be successful."

The transition could be the best thing to happen to Manning, whose decision-making and fundamentals clearly regressed during a career-worst 27-interception season in 2013. Had he grown too comfortable in the Gilbride offense? There is now way to know that for sure. The change to a new system, though, could be the perfect thing for Manning at this point in his career.

Back to Gannon:

"First of all, you have to tell him ‘Look, this system is going to lengthen your career,' '' Gannon said. "I know Ben McAdoo from having been with Mike [McCarthy], he's a sharp guy. He can really help Eli become a better player and that's exciting. You're talking about a guy who's a talented quarterback who's won Super Bowls. He's got a chance to get better.''

That is an exciting possibility for the Giants and their fans.

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