Two months ago, Eli Manning was on the sideline, his future in doubt as he watched Geno Smith start against the Oakland Raiders. Now, with a new coach and general manager, he’s been told by the New York Giants that they want him to be their starter moving forward — even if they draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick.
Manning is willing to help the next Giants quarterback — he wouldn’t exactly describe his role as being a mentor — and has every intention to finish his career with the only professional team for which he has played. But he still feels he has something to prove after receiving the ultimate vote of confidence from the team’s brass over the past few weeks.
“Excited,” Manning said Friday in Bloomington, Minnesota. “Excited to get back to work and knowing that they have faith in me that I can go out there and win games and play at a high level.
“I want to go prove them right. I want to go out there and work my tail off to get to playing at a high level.”
Manning is coming off one of his worst seasons since his rookie year. He threw just 19 touchdown passes and had 18 turnovers as the Giants finished 3-13.
With Manning, 37, on the downside of his career, there is a strong possibility the Giants select a quarterback at the top of the draft. Manning said he would be fine with that. The two-time Super Bowl winner insists he isn’t going to give a young quarterback the cold shoulder. He already spent 2017 working seamlessly alongside third-round pick Davis Webb.
“Every year, you’ve got backup quarterbacks and they’re usually going to be younger than you,” Manning said. “I’m used to that, and it’s always about helping the other guys in the room and having great communication, great conversations. That won’t be a big deal, just always want to help the younger guys learn as quickly as possible, and when they’re in there, plan to play at a high level.”
But mentor? That isn’t exactly how he would view the situation.
“It’s not your job to mentor somebody, but I wouldn’t look at it as that role,” Manning said. “I would look at it as it’s my job to prepare and compete and be ready to play each and every game. In that process, you’re always talking football, helping out the other guys in the room, whether it’s Davis Webb this year or Geno or guys over the years. You always have back and forth. You’re always helping them out. Nothing changes.”
Manning will have to learn a new offense under coach Pat Shurmur. He has already started looking at Minnesota’s offense this season to learn its schemes and terminology.
Manning sees a good mix of influences in Shurmur’s offense — from Andy Reid’s West Coast scheme to Chip Kelly’s spread attack to Norv Turner’s vertical approach.
Manning is optimistic, and believes there is no reason the Giants can’t be successful this season with new general manager Dave Gettleman rebuilding the roster, Shurmur as coach and him at quarterback.
“Knowing how my body feels,” Manning said, “and how I can still make throws — my body feels good and can still run around and do everything I have to do — I think I don’t have any indication it is going to slow down or all of a sudden have a big drop-off.”
ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin contributed to this report.