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Eli Manning “least of our worries,” says Giants’ OC Mike Sullivan

Running game, offensive line also among topics discussed

New York Giants v Buffalo Bills
Eli Manning calls signals during the preseason.
Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Coming off a rough preseason, there are things to worry about on offense for the New York Giants. Tackle play, running the ball, blocking from the tight end spot. We have been over them ad nauseum. One thing offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is not worrying about is the play of quarterback Eli Manning.

Sullivan said Thursday that he is “not at all” worried about Manning despite the lack of preseason production.

“I can remember from when I was here before as the quarterback coach, there were some horrific preseasons. In fact, I am also thinking, ‘Well gosh, his last really bad (pre)season was 2011,’ “ Sullivan said on Thursday. “Not that I am superstitious, but all joking aside, he has been around a long time and I can’t emphasize enough, to you or anybody, what a great pro he is, how hard he prepares, how much he is not just a student of the game, but takes an approach that unlike someone who has been in it as long as he has been in it and who has two Super Bowl rings, that he still has that beginner’s mind, if you will, that he is trying to take it all in. He knows how to take care of his body, prepares himself physically, mentally. He is going to be at the top of his game. Eli Manning is the least of our worries at this point.”

Manning completed 14-of-24 passes this preseason and the Giants did not score a point while he was in games. Manning, though, never seems at his best in the preseason.

“Maybe because he likes busting my chops and knows I need to answer these questions when it happens,” Sullivan said.

Here are a few more takeaways from Sullivan’s meeting with reporters on Thursday.

On expectations for the offense

“Certainly we have to do a better job in two specific areas, in the preseason where we came up short. The ball security issue has to obviously get solved and establishing a consistent run game. That is going to open up so many doors for us, allow us to maintain possession, continue on drives, but then also set up some of the play action passes. We had way too many zero or negative runs. ... very excited to see how it all comes together in terms of having the starters out there for the entire game and from a game planning standpoint, not having a focus that is evaluation based, but is more scheme based, more of ‘how can we get our players in the best possible position.’ “

On fixing preseason offensive line struggles

“I think it is a combination of a lot of factors. I think that certainly from a technique standpoint, regardless of what the play is called, there are specific footwork steps, there are aiming points, there is hand placement and pad level and that has to improve no matter what the play call is and there is a chemistry that occurs the more guys get to work next to one other, the verbal communication that takes place at the line of scrimmage, we are anticipating that to improve, but I think the key thing moving forward is that we pare down and zero in on the specific plays. Ones that we feel put us in the best position and ones that feature the skillset of our players we will have high expectations and hopefully get better in that area.”

On whether Victor Cruz can be what he once was

“I certainly hope so. There have certainly been some flashes. There have been flashes of that. It will be exciting to see what happens in a full speed game. In a four-quarter game, we will see how the offense runs.”

On RB Rashad Jennings getting most of the carries

“It is hard to say. We have to wait and see how it goes. He has certainly done things at the end of last year and you see things in training camp, but I think all of our backs, all of the guys that made our roster, bring something to the table. It just comes down to, ‘Are we doing what we need to do up front?’ I think that is a big component because it doesn’t matter who the back is, we have to make sure we have the consistency in terms of establishing a run game and having the runs that suit who we are.

“We mentioned earlier as far as with preseason and what the objectives are. Preseason is a time when we have taken a look at some runs and some concepts that we are thinking, ‘Boy, this would be nice to add.’ Upon further review some of those might have to marinate a little bit longer and we can get back to some of the things that we do well and other things that we feel really good about and the other thing, Dallas is going to be the same way, there are things that we have been holding. There are things that you want to just keep close to the vest, that you are saving for a chance to go against a great division opponent like Dallas, so it is really going to depend on a lot of factors.”