With training camp comes an increased media schedule for players as everyone ramps up to the start of football season. That is no different for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Eli joined the voice of the Giants, Bob Papa and former Giants’ offensive lineman Dave Diehl on Sirius XM NFL radio on Wednesday. Perhaps unsurprisingly the first order of business for Papa and Eli’s former teammate was the charmingly infamous “dance party” after practice.
Eli Manning looks like he's at a middle school dance— SB Nation (@SBNation) August 2, 2017
( Thetrue26) pic.twitter.com/NSz3T6Jpe3
Eli Manning RT @Prosper__King: 19-0 pic.twitter.com/7EE1M9K0Po— ILL FRESH (@ILL_FRESH) August 2, 2017
About his moves, Eli said:
“Oh yeah, it’s my song, that’s my jam! That’s my jam, I just couldn’t hold back.”
“No,” he added, “I was just messing around saying ‘This is how I dance. I’m staying right here. This is as extreme as it gets.’ Just kinda messing around with some of the guys, not knowing. I guess you have to assume you’re being watched at all times.”
Eli joked that he needs to be invited to more of these post-practice dance parties and that the video caught him before he really hit his “groove”.
With five practices in the books and the Giants’ first preseason game drawing ever closer — just a week and a day until we see them take the field again — Eli was asked about finding a balance between Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and the rest of his offensive weapons.
“We have a lot of weapons,” Eli said, “but with that comes a lot of egos. With the receivers, they all want the ball, and that’s a good thing. You want guys who want the ball, who feel they were open, who have confidence that they’re gonna get open on every play. So it is controlling that, trying to get them all the ball and keep them all happy. But I think, you get the best units where the guys all get along with each other, they all want each other to be successful. You get that with Brandon [Brandon Marshall], Odell [Odell Beckham Jr.], Shepard [Sterling Shepard], and those guys. They’re all buddies, they all get along great, they’re all competitive, they all want to score the touchdown. ... But they understand that some guys get doubled, they understand the coverages, I have my reads, and I’m just going where my reads are telling me. I’m not picking favorites, and I think Brandon has done a great job of understanding his role in this offense. For the first time in his life he’s probably not a “number one” receiver, technically. We’re gonna move Odell, he’s the star, he’s the playmaker, and he’s the guy we’re gonna put him in situations to do certain things. Brandon, we’re gonna use your skills as well, and put you in a situation to do things that you do well also. He’s been great understanding that role. He’s come in and, I think, getting the feel of this offense, how quick the ball comes out and how quickly the ball is going to be on time. I’m not waiting for you to be open, I’m going to throw it on time, the ball’s gonna be there, and I think he’s adjusted to that, and he’s done great with the offense.”
In addition to all the receivers Eli has to choose from, the Giants also made the somewhat shocking pick of Evan Engram, the undersized by highly athletic hybrid tight end out of Ole Miss. While many on the outside were surprised by Engram’s selection, Eli is happy to have him.
“Obviously the skill set,” Eli said “you know, how quick he is. His feet, the quickness off the ball, separation. He does things, just little moves at the top of his route that are hard to teach, and he just does it naturally. There’s some things that are just ‘don’t try and tell him too much, don’t try and over-coach him’, because he does some things really naturally. Now it’s just getting him to buy in to the timing of the offense. Hey, you don’t have that long to get open, you have to do it faster, you have to do it faster and not as many steps. He’s picked up things really quickly, smart kid, but just seeing his explosiveness is exciting.”
The Giants struggled to run the ball in 2016, which made everything more difficult for Manning. Eli obviously hopes that some changes up front, along with naming Paul Perkins — who still averaged more than 4 yards per carry last year — the starting running back, will help spark the running game and create opportunities for him throwing the ball. Eli said,
“The run game opens up everything else. If you can run the football, that makes teams adjust their game plans. They might want to say “hey, we’re gonna double Odell, keep two [safeties] high, we’re gonna keep everything in front [of the defense].” All of sudden you start running the ball and getting six, seven, eight yards a pop, moving the chains running the ball, and things change. Defenses don’t like that, they don’t like getting the ball run down their throats. That’ll get those safeties a little tighter, create some opportunities for play action in the passing game. So hopefully we can create that physical running game up front. It gets the offensive line going, when they’re running the ball and firing off the ball early in games and setting that identity, it helps a lot of things go smoothly after that.”
Finally, the offensive line is foremost on everyone’s mind. Outside of signing D.J. Fluker as a free agent, the Giants didn’t make any high-profile moves to upgrade the personnel. Instead they are counting on the development of their young tackles and growing chemistry and continuity to improve the offensive line’s play.
While many are expressing concern over their ability to protect Manning, he is expressing confidence in their ability.
“I think the thing you see,” Eli said, “is its a group that has been together now for three or four years. And I think that’s so important with an offensive line group. Just their communication, them understanding passing things off, understanding all the offense, you know, ‘when do you have help as a tackle, what plays do you have help as a running back or tight end chipping, so you can make your sets.’ It’s just being comfortable, when you’re checking plays, you’re seeing why they’re doing it. You see how defenses are aligned, you can expect the stunts, so I think their communication can help so much with the offensive line group. With Weston in the front, and Pugh, now Ereck [Ereck Flowers] going into his third year, Bobby [Bobby Hart] has been here, John Jerry. They’ve all worked together for two years, some of them going on three and four years together, I think will make a big difference. I think they’ll play outstanding this year.”