New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur have each reiterated that veteran Eli Manning will be the team’s starting quarterback in recent weeks, but that hasn’t stopped the winds of competition from blowing.
Rookie Daniel Jones impressed throughout the offseason workout program, displaying especially impressively skill during the Giants’ three-day mandatory minicamp, creating a scenario in which onlookers had to wonder: might he actually stand a chance to unseat Manning early on?
In Manning’s mind, no such pressure or competition exists.
While speaking with NFL Network from the Manning Passing Academy on Friday evening, Manning insisted that he doesn’t believe he’s in any competition with Jones and is merely focused on winning in 2019.
“I mean no, I don’t feel like it’s a competition,” Manning said. “I feel like I’ve got to do my job and I’ve got to compete every day and try to get better every day. That’s the way it’s been my whole life and that’s just the way I’ve always approached practice every day to improve, to earn my place on the team, to earn the respect of the teammates and do it each year.”
As far as serving as a mentor, Manning stopped short of suggesting that was his role, either. Rather, he says, he tries to build relationships with each of his teammates and help school them in any way he can.
“We’ve got new guys and I’m trying to build a relationship with them and get them up to speed and so I’m trying to do my job in the quarterback room,” Manning said. “I’ve always been good with young quarterbacks, whoever’s been in there, trying to get them up to speed, teaching them about defenses or styles or what our defense plays. So I’m doing the same thing with Daniel and I’m going to be a good teammate, I’m going to do the best that I can do and help everybody on the Giants be successful.”
Manning does admit there are some current similarities to his rookie season when he arrived on scene and engaged in a “competition” with Kurt Warner. Moreover, Manning also sees some of himself when watching Jones.
“Definitely drawing back on that and I talk to Daniel and I see so many similarities in the situation and how things are going and just what he’s trying to do, his personality,” Manning said. “He’s coming into this team, he’s just trying to learn the playbook, learn the names of everybody, got to earn the respect of his teammates. He’s got so much going on. He’s got the New York media, dealing with them; all of a sudden they’re saying things Day 1. … So just work hard, take your job seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously — if you can do that — enjoy your teammates, listen to your coaches and we’re all in this together and we’ll get through it.
“He’s a good kid, he’s quiet and he’s just trying to learn, get a good feel for when to let his personality come out. I was the same way. My rookie year I wasn’t going to say — Tiki Barber, Michael Strahan, you got these big personalities — I’m just going to keep my mouth shut, be on time, work my tail off in the weight room, ask my questions to the coach after the meeting is over and make sure I know what I’m doing before tell Tiki what his route is or I tell Amani Toomer, ‘Hey, I don’t think you did that right.’ You got to earn the respect. You got to get hit in the mouth a few times and get up … before you do a whole lot of talking.”
It could be quite some time before Jones gets hit in the mouth because, contrary to popular belief, the alleged competition between he and Manning exists solely in the media. Come Week 1, Manning will be under center and then we’ll all wait to see what happens next.