Eli Manning Thinks Playing The 49er is Easier Than Playing a Team Like The Jets

Tom Coughlin – Q: How does it feel to finally be ready to go and play this Sunday?
A: It feels good. The week has moved along rapidly, as they always do. We are excited and the practices had good energy. Everyone knows what is at stake. We are looking forward to traveling out there and playing.

Q: Did Jake Ballard hurt his knee in practice?
A: No, they did a procedure yesterday and there was a little swelling.

Q: What kind of procedure?
A: It was not surgery. It was a normal week for him and progressed towards the end the way they normally do.

Q: How much does he impact the offense?
A: He is very important, just as all are. He has had an outstanding year and made a big catch the other night which was very important. He is a guy that is really growing in the position and gives us a big strong body blocking and has done a very good job of catching the ball and getting open.

Q: What about Nicks’ ankle?
A: He has a basketball ankle at times that he rolls and he did it this afternoon to a certain extent, but he doesn’t think it is going to be too bad.

Q: Talk about Rich Seubert, one of your honorary captains on Sunday. What imprint did Richie leave on this organization?
A: He was feisty. He loves to play, he loves to be a part of this team and the New York Giants. He plays with every ounce of fiber that he has. He gives it all and shares it all. He is not afraid to get on teammates and he is not afraid to be the rambunctious one in the locker room. He stirs it up better than anyone I have been around. Sometimes it is to the point where you have to step in between. We love this guy and we miss him. Last year he took a picture of him and me – him up there (holds his hand up) and me down here — and he wrote ‘Happy Holidays’ to me and gave it to me. I put it in my locker and forgot about it and I find the picture over the holidays and now I have it sitting right in front of me for a month and a half so I can look at Richie and happy holidays.

Q: Does the sloppy field give you an advantage?
A: Ask me after the game. We hope that we are fast enough in all accounts to be able to play. You know the forecast and I do, too. It may be better than what we thought at the beginning of the week.

Q: How do your players pick the cleats to wear?
A: We do all the things in the world and we talk to everyone like we did last week. Which ones to wear, how is it recommended, how the field is cared for and how will it be when the game starts. Our equipment people do a great job with that and they make recommendations to the players. The players have enough confidence to stay with it.

QB Eli Manning
January 20, 2012

Q: How are you feeling?
A: Great.

Q: Did it feel like a long week?
A: No. We’ve been ready for it. We’ve been prepared. I think we’ve come in, done a good job. We’ve had good practices. It’s a team we’ve played once [this season] so we’ve had a lot of games to look at. I think we’re well prepared. It’s gone by pretty quickly just because I think we’re excited about this and we’re enjoying this experience and looking forward to the trip.

Q: How ready are you guys to get on the plane?
A: I think guys are ready. I think everybody has kept their cool. I don’t think guys are nervous or getting too excited. I know everybody is ready to go. Everybody is amped up, but I think everybody has done a good job keeping their cool knowing that we have to get prepared, we have to get our rest this week and make sure we’re ready. We do have a long plane ride. I think guys are ready to go play.

Q: How is the challenge different with a team like this compared to a team like the Jets? Things are simpler for the 49ers.
A: Probably so, but they’re a good team. That’s all. When you have good players, you have a good scheme and guys do their job correctly, are in the right spots and play fast you don’t have to do a whole lot to be successful. Obviously they’ve proven that. They do a good job of stopping the run. They do a good job of getting turnovers, getting sacks. They make a lot of big plays on defense. Their offense builds off that, off short field position and scoring points. From an offensive standpoint we have to be very sound. Everybody’s mechanics have to be perfect. We can’t afford to make mistakes. That’s what you see with their defense – a mistake on offense turned into a turnover for them, into a big play for them. So you have to eliminate their big plays on defense.

Q: How do you account for the fact that you don’t miss games?
A: I haven’t thought a whole lot about it. I think it’s one of those deals. I try to work hard during the offseason and my training – continuing to work hard during the season. If there are things that are preventable, you try to stay away from those things. And that’s muscle strains and just trying to stay healthy, heal up from hits, things like that. A lot of it is in your preparation also – understanding when blitzes are coming, when you’re protected, when you’re not protected so you’re not just taking hits that you don’t have to. Some of it is definitely luck. You never know when someone hits you the wrong way or you fall a little differently. Just try to do everything you can with eating right, getting sleep, your workouts, your conditioning, everything that you can control and help for the best.

Q: Does Hakeem Nicks rolling his ankle set off an alarm?
A: No. Hakeem is going to be fine. He’ll be ready to go.

Q: Is being consistent part of your personality? Chris Snee said you haven’t changed since you first got here.
A: I don’t think you’re supposed to change. The reason that I had success, whether in high school or college, and had some success here in the NFL is you don’t change your personality. You don’t change whether you’re having success or having tough times. You try to work hard, stay confident, support your teammates, be a good teammate and play the game the way it should be played. We have a lot of fun, obviously Chris Snee [and I] have been here a long time, came in the same year, were roommates on the road my rookie year for a little bit – both were pretty quiet people at first. Both of us probably talk a little bit more now than we did that first year – to each other and to our teammates. It’s been a fun run and the objective is not to change, maybe get more comfortable, understanding your offense and your role as a teammate and as a guy who’s been around a few more years, but you try to never change your personality.

Q: What has Ahmad Bradshaw meant to the passing game?
A: Ahmad’s done a great job catching little passes and getting yardage, getting big plays. He’s just one of those players where you want to try to create touches for him, whether it’s the run game or screens, little check-downs where good things seem to happen. He makes guys miss. If you can get the ball in his hands, good things usually happen.

Q: How important is ball placement to receivers getting yards after the catch? It seems like you’ve improved that this year.
A: Yeah. I think definitely. Hitting guys in stride can be the difference and obviously, [the receivers] making guys miss. You definitely try to throw it away from the defenders. It’s also in catches. You want to throw it low if a defender is nearby where [the receiver] gets a catch. But if things are open, there’s room, especially crossing routes, slant routes where they can stay on the move and run, if you can hit them in stride, it gives those guys opportunities to catch it and get up the field.

Q: How much pride do you take in the fact that you don’t miss practices or games?
A: I think as a quarterback, as a teammate, you want to show your teammates that you’re going to be here, be competing, be there at practice every day, focused every day, ready to get better and competing every day at practice – not walking through anything. You can have fun. There’s times where you can smile and relax, but when you’re out there and you’re running a play, when you’re doing your stuff with the team, you want everything to go perfect. I think you do practice how you play. I enjoy practice. You go to meetings, you go to practice, you put in everything you just talked about. ‘Let’s go compete. Let’s get better. Let’s go learn things.’ So I look forward to going out to practice every day and getting better and competing.

Q: What about Tom Coughlin do you appreciate the most?
A: I think just getting his team ready to play. He has good messages. He has good things to think about. He explains what type of the game both sides of the ball need to play. When people need disciplined or whatever, yelled at or things should be tense, he does a good job of doing that. He’s gotten better over the years when there was a time to relax and smile you do see him smile a little bit more now than eight years ago when he first came in. it’s probably because we are winning a few more games than that first year also. We’ve gotten along well. I think he knows that I work hard at preparing each week, I’m going to compete to the last snap and I think that’s his mentality with a lot of things also – prepare, work hard and a lot of times that’s all you can ask for.

Q: Has he been more relaxed these past few weeks?
A: I think the last few weeks he’s been excited. I think that’s the message that he’s gotten over to the players. This is a fun time. This is hard to get to this position. You have to enjoy it. I think he’s done a good job of making sure – we do have some young guys here who haven’t played in these types of games, haven’t played in many playoff games. Everybody knows it’s a big game, but you don’t have to keep talking about it. You don’t want to stress that. You just get guys to go out there, play loose, play like we’ve been playing the last few weeks and just enjoy it, have fun and just play our best football.

Q: Is there time to appreciate this or do you just focus on this game?
A: I think you just worry about this game. Obviously the run can only be appreciated if we continue it and we keep it going. I think this week is just about getting ready for San Francisco, getting prepared. Right now most of our preparation is done. Tomorrow we’ll [have a] walk through. We have to get on a plane, but now it’s just a matter of getting rested up, reviewing all of our stuff and going out there Sunday.

Q: What went through your mind when you heard Richie Seubert was going to be an honorary captain?
A: Excited – excited to see Richie out on the field again with us. He was a great teammate. A guy when I first came in my rookie year, he was around, he was injured, I thought he was 35 years old when I first got here. I thought he was a guy who had been here forever. He had only been here for a couple of years. An honor to have played with him – he was a great leader, great teammate, great guy to have in the locker room – excited that he’ll be a part of the game on Sunday.

Q: How do things change for you when you can trust your wide receivers?
A: It does make my job a lot easier when you have confidence in all of your receivers that they’re going to win. You feel like every one-on-one matchup is in favor of us. I can just go through my reads. I can find my best matchup and go to that target. Our guys, every receiver, they want the ball every play. They’re always open. These guys, they work hard, they complement each other, they’re all good pals, they celebrate each other’s touchdowns so when you have that there’s no ego too big. They keep it in check. They all compete and want to get the ball, want to get better. They listen. When you try to correct things they don’t get down. I like our receiving corps. I think they’re playing great football. Obviously the better they play, the better it makes me look.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw
January 20, 2012

Q: What do you see from San Francisco?
A: They are a great defense. We just have to stick to our game plan. Linebacker-wise, they have great linebackers and a great DB corps. I just want to go out and play my game. We have a great plan and I think we will be fine.

Q: What has helped you prepare this week?
A: Right now, we have a lot of confidence. We have a lot of guys that have been in this situation. We have a great game plan going into it. Playing them the first time gave us a lot of ammo and we have things to use against them. If we can go out and execute, we will be fine.

Q: What did you take from that game?
A: We learned a lot and we have a lot of stuff on film. I think our coaches handled what our game plan is going to be and like I said, if we execute, we will be good.

Q: What is it like to be the road team?
A: Our plan is to take their crowd out the game and that is just by making plays. We had seven big plays last week and if we can stick to that routine, we can hopefully take their crowd out of it.

Q: Is it important to run the ball against them?
A: No question and that is the plan in every game to run the ball especially because of how good we have been these last couple games running the ball.

Q: Does David Baas’ stomach bug affect the offense?
A: It is not a concern. We have great guys that can back everybody up and who can do the job. My confidence in those guys is the same as with our starters. Our backups do a great job and my hat goes off to all the linemen.

Q: Does the weather matter?
A: It doesn’t matter what the conditions are. If it is a rainy game, hopefully we run the ball more. Just stick your cleats in and keep digging.