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The New York Giants were kind enough to forward a transcript of Eli Manning's phone conference from Wednesday Here's the transcript in its entirety. Oh, and it's with the reporters who cover the Browns on a regular basis.
You guys talked about coming out strong the next season after the Super Bowl. Is this about as good as you could have imagined things going so far?
Yeah, I would say so. We are 4-0, we feel like we are playing pretty good football, we are finding ways to win close games, and then I think we are playing consistent football and that was kind of our goal coming in. Avoid the bad plays, avoid the mistakes, and that is what we are doing. We are playing smart football and we have obviously worked hard and worked at becoming a better team. We still have a long season left, we still have a lot of games to play, and it starts this week on Monday night at Cleveland versus a good team. We know we have to keep going and keep this determination, keep the work ethic in check, and make sure we are doing all the right things to prepare ourselves for every game.
Do you think the work you guys put in is the biggest key?
I think we have always worked hard. I think it is just a matter of just trying to continue to work and don't get satisfied with where we were as a team last year knowing that we can become a better team. I think looking at the things we did not do as well and in looking at the reasons why we were playing well at the end of the season, it was because we just eliminated the mistakes and that is what we are doing. We are not having the penalties, we are not having the turnovers, we don't have many negative plays, we are in good down and distances, we are not forcing things, and we are able to just play within ourselves, and our defense is obviously playing outstanding football. We are not forced into bad situations and hopefully we can keep that up.
Hasn't your offense evolved into more than just avoiding bad plays and instead you are on the attack and you expect big plays? This isn't a defensive offense?
No, and the thing is we have always had the ability to make big plays and we have always made big plays, but sometimes we had so many negative plays where we had penalties or we had just some bad football being played at times where the big plays kind of cancelled out the too many bad plays we had. It is just a matter of, hey, let's just play consistent football, let's play smart, let's just kind of do what we are supposed to do and naturally those big plays will happen. We have athletes; we have good players, so those things are going to happen and we take advantage of those long runs or the long pass, but let's not hurt ourselves also with the bad plays and try to force things when they are not there. If you have a play called for a deep ball and they are not in the right coverage, don't sit there and hold the ball forever to wait for something to maybe come up. Then you are putting the pressure on your offensive line and you are forcing something to happen. I am going to throw to my check-down or I am going to check out of this play to a run and kind of wait for the right opportunity for that deep play to come.
How has the team responded to Plaxico Burress' return?
We are excited about having Plaxico back this week and we have put this behind us. We put it behind us last week. We weren't going to make this an issue and we were going to have to play without him for a week and we were going to go out there and we were confident with the players we had that we could go and run our game plan and this week it is the same way. We are excited to have him back at practice and have him in the game plan and expect for everything to continue to run smoothly.
Have you been able to talk to him person to person?
Yeah, I saw him on Monday when we were working out and just kind of treated it like it was a normal Monday, and he was there working out and a part of everything we were doing. We are not going to make this into an issue and we are going to just keep rolling.
How do you react to many people referring to this team as the best team in the league?
Well, I think we should react to it the same way we reacted when people said we were just lucky last year or we weren't very good. We can't buy into it. We can't buy into it when they are praising us or they are dogging us. We have to just believe in ourselves and know what we have done to be in this position and that is just how we prepare each week, the mental mindset we have going into every game that we have something to prove, and we still have to have that mindset.
Has there been any contact between your people and the Giants about a long-term contract extension?
There has been no talk and it is not on my concern, not on my watch right now. My focus is Cleveland and getting ready for this season and the next games and I haven't even thought about that situation.
What have you learned in terms of your own game after going through the Super Bowl run last year?
I think it is just trying to play consistent football and just trying to play smart and just understand the situations of the game and knowing when you have to be aggressive and knowing when you have to be somewhat conservative and make the smart play and find completions. You don't always have to get the ball down the field, if we can just be consistent on first and second down and get into good third-and-short opportunities if our defense continues to play as well as they have been playing, we just have to not put the defense in a bad situation by turning the ball over or giving the opposing offense good field position. We are going to make big plays, we are going to hit some big things on offense, it is just a matter of being patient and don't force throws.
At this point of the season is the offense ahead of where you were last year?
I think it is tough to say. I think we are doing more things with this offense where we are mixing up personnel; we are mixing up different receivers. Last year we had some injuries at the receiver position at times so it was just hard to really expand with the offense. With Plaxico not practicing, Steve Smith was hurt at this time, so you were kind of short on numbers a little bit where this year we feel our receiver spot is one of our strongest positions where we have five guys who we feel can get in the game and play and we can rotate them and put them in different spots so it is hard to get a real gist on exactly what we are doing or where we are lining up. I think that has helped our offense expand, just being more versatile. Also I think just the fact that we have had more guys in the same offense for another year. At the running back position Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw, another year for them to get comfortable with everything we are doing. The offensive line has been solid. Kevin Boss is kind of learning the ins and outs of the offense and what he has to do, so I think the young guys are stepping up and the veterans
just have a great feel for what we are doing and we are playing good football.
Is there anything you can take away from the preseason game you played against Cleveland?
It is hard. The preseason game, especially that second one, it is not like they were coming out and they weren't doing very much blitzing and they are a blitz-happy team. They like to do a lot of different looks, especially when you get into third down and into your three and four receiver looks, so we have to have a great plan for that. They are a good team, they are a 3-4, they can mix things up, so we can look at that game and kind of see some of their base stuff and what they do, but really it is going to be looking at these last four or five weeks and seeing what they are doing and try to get a new game plan. The preseason to regular season is a whole new league.
If you guys play flawless, in your mind is this an unbeatable team?
I am not going to say that. I think you get to the point where if any team plays flawless, they are tough to beat and in football you are going to have mistakes, you are going to have things go wrong, but it is just a matter of kind of knowing where your mistakes are, know when you have a bad play, know when, hey, they have you in a blitz and they fooled you and not letting a bad play or a bad situation turn into a turnover, turn into a really, really bad play, as I say. We just have to avoid those and be patient and get our opportunities and make some big plays and that is when you have to take advantage of those opportunities.