Giants quarterback Eli Manning was diplomatic when asked about facing the Patriots secondary this weekend at Gillette Stadium, dancing around a question about what he sees on film from the much-maligned defensive unit.
He did say he expects the Patriots to show new looks this Sunday.
The Steelers had plenty of success passing against the Patriots in a 25-17 victory Sunday in Pittsburgh.
“Obviously, Pittsburgh had a lot of plays, they did a good job on third downs converting first downs, so they had a lot of chances. Obviously, it’s not a team we play very often, we have to see what their tendencies are, what they did early on in the season, what they did the last few weeks. We have a good plan and just go out there and it will come down to execution and I’m sure they’ll have a few new things for us and we’ll have to just see what their tendencies are and have a good game plan.”
Here’s the rest of the Q&A between Manning and Patriots reporters this afternoon, as provided by the Patriots’ media relations staff:
How would you characterize their pass rush? Obviously they know teams are going to try to pass against them and their run defense has been very stout. How would you characterize their front seven?
I think their front seven is very strong and they’re big and they do a good job of not letting teams run a whole lot against them, so teams don’t always get good down distance on third down. One thing they do a good job of is not letting tight ends get off and get good releases, they hit down, they hit the fullbacks getting out. They slow down the timing of the pass plays, but when you do that, you don’t always get as good a pass rush from those guys. They still do a good job getting to the quarterback and creating pressure, so guys have to do a good job of blocking up and knowing their assignments.
What area of your game do you feel you have improved the most in since you’ve come into the league?
I think a lot of it is just decision making. I’ve been fortunate to be in the same offense since I’ve been with the Giants. You understand the ins-and-outs, you understand your protections, you understand when you have problems versus a certain play if they’re playing a certain defense and knowing where to go with the ball when certain things come up. I think our receivers have done a good job getting open and understanding the rhythm of our offense as well.
Earlier in the year you had a quote where you compared yourself to Tom Brady or put yourself in his class. Can you clarify what you were talking about?
Well, the question was if I thought I was an elite quarterback and basically, I was just saying that I did. I’m usually not into the business of ranking and rating quarterbacks and comparing myself to other guys. Looking back, I thought I gave an honest answer, and I don’t regret anything.
Do you feel that you have to have that attitude if you’re going to lead your team?
I think so. I think any player in the league, they always feel confident in your ability, whether you just played a great game or you just played a poor game – you feel that next week you’re going to go out and play great and make every throw and make every play and put your team in situations to win games. I think that’s the attitude that most athletes have.
After you made that statement, some people in the media and elsewhere were hesitant to accept it. What was that like for you? Do you have to ignore it?
I just didn’t worry about it. Obviously it caught a lot of attention. After the interview, you look back and see if you said anything that might cause attention. I didn’t think that would be a big deal. I think it was circumstances where not a whole lot was going on with sports at the time, it was training camp, and no games yet. I think sometimes, just depending on the timing of things, you have to have something to talk about in the sports world.
How has Victor Cruz helped your offense?
Victor’s done great. He’s made a lot of plays. He’s a young guy who each week is learning the ins-and-outs of this offense and he has a natural playmaking ability. He’s stepped up to make big plays in key situations.
I’m sure like everyone else, you’ve heard the term ‘Suck for Luck’ and seen pictures of Colts fans wearing Andrew Luck jerseys in the stands. Given the situation your brother, Peyton Manning, is in, what do you think when you hear people talk about that?
I’ve heard a little bit about it, I haven’t thought much about the circumstances, but I think obviously any person in the NFL, any player is competing each week to try to get a win – coaches, everybody, no matter what the circumstances or the record or whatnot. Each week, you have pride in your job and yourself to go out there and play your hardest and try to get wins.
How often do you stay in touch with Peyton?
He is my brother, so we are pretty tight. We talk pretty regularly throughout the season and he’s always checking up on us and how everything is going with our season and watching our games when he can, depending on their schedule. We’re very close and always trying to help each other out.
How is he doing throughout this whole situation?
I think his mindset is just trying to get back healthy and trying to rehab and stay positive and keep all his energy on trying to get healthy as soon as possible.
Has he told you that he would love to get back on the field this year? A lot of people are wondering why he hasn’t been put on Injured Reserve.
Yeah, I think that’s his goal is to get healthy, certainly to get well enough to come back and play. I don’t know what the circumstances are, he hasn’t mentioned anything on that, but I think that’s anyone’s objective when they’re injured – to make sure you’re doing everything you can to make sure you’re about to get back 100 percent.
Last year this Patriots defense did a remarkable job forcing turnovers, I think they finished plus 28. This year they’ve struggled, they’ve gotten some interceptions, but they’re just plus two. Is there anything for you as a quarterback that shows up on film, the ability to create turnovers or is that just a game-to-game situation?
You see which guys, you see their turnovers, you watch the games, if it’s certain guys, certain situations, what’s creating the turnovers. They’ve done a good job getting some. Obviously, with New England you just go to control the game. You see certain games where they get up on teams, so obviously the third and fourth quarters when they have leads, that always creates turnovers for defenses – opposing teams start forcing things. You always try to stay in manageable situations throughout the game and keep it close and try to win it in the end.
When you’re watching game film this week, does it help that the Patriots lost to the Steelers? Is that something that you can use as sort of a blueprint going into this week’s game?
No, I don’t think that it makes a difference whether they won or lost. You look at all their games and try to figure out what teams had success with, what type of schemes, see what New England, how their game plan or how their play calling changed by the circumstances of games and get a feel for how we’re going to run our offense and what plays will work and what my reads will be.