Wednesday, February 1, 2012

For Giants' Manning, what a difference a year makes


When the Giants missed the playoffs in 2010, much of the blame fell on quarterback Eli Manning and his career-high 25 interceptions. But while New York fans were making offseason phone calls to local sports talk radio shows, Manning and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride were making adjustments.

Fast-forward a year, and Manning and the Giants are eyeing a second championship in four years, with much of the success due to Manning’s arm. New York will face the Patriots Sunday in the Super Bowl.

“The thing that we talk about all the time is that it (2010) was as good of a year as he has had with the exception of the interceptions,” Gilbride told the media Wednesday. “You can’t divorce the two, but do not lose sight of the fact that you threw for more yards, you threw for more touchdowns, you threw for more yards per attempt ... We are going to make some plays. Stay away from the bad ones.

"If that means you have to take a sack, which he loathes to do, he hates to do that. If that is the best thing to do on that play, then take it. Do those things ... I think that he was embarrassed by the amount of interceptions, and he was fully committed to trying to solve that problem.”

Manning seemed to remedy that issue quite well, cutting down his interception numbers by nine (his 16 was seventh-best in the league) while increasing his yards and yards-per-game numbers dramatically.

He was selected to his second Pro Bowl this year, finishing the season fourth in yards, sixth in TDs and seventh in QB rating. The only wrinkle in his stats this year was his sack numbers (28), 12 more than last year. But as Gilbride explained, it’s a small price to pay for a larger return.

“That is a tradeoff that we will take," Gilbride said. "He hates doing it ... but you know what, sometimes taking a sack is the best thing that you can do.”

Manning and his offensive line were proficient against the Patriots in their first meeting this season, as they avoided taking a single sack, and Manning threw only one pick. In their historic 2008 match-up, Manning was sacked three times and picked off once.

Veteran guard Chris Snee echoed Gilbride’s comments Wednesday regarding Manning’s preparedness and insistence on improvement.

“I think, just like any player, you learn from mistakes each year," Snee said. "He watches a lot of film and he is extremely competitive, so I’m sure he’s harder on himself than anyone else. I’m sure at the end of this year he’ll go back and take notes on what he needs to fix.”

In Manning’s case, hopefully with a second ring on his finger.

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