Saturday, February 04, 2012

Quiet Leadership: Eli Manning and Giants are Ready for the Super Bowl





“We got an excellent message from Eli.  It was very well-needed. For players like myself who have been to a Super Bowl, it is still great to hear someone speak with that kind of leadership. And you know, Eli doesn't say much. When he says it, he means it and you know it is coming from the heart." 
--Antrel Rolle, New York Giants’ safety, discussing a speech given by Eli Manning as they prepare for their Super Bowl rematch with the New England Patriots.   


Eli Manning’s Quiet Leadership"There's a lot of pressure coming into a season on a team like this and if you walked in and are working with a veteran quarterback, and you make a mistake and he's ripping you apart, putting you down or making it obvious on the field that it's your fault, then that would make a tough situation even worse.
"Eli doesn't approach it that way. I know that when me and Victor came in, we didn't know everything and we still don't. But when we made a mistake, ran the wrong route, he always took the time to help us. That's what good leaders do. They realize the team's not just made of vets. You have to be willing to accept other people's mistakes and Eli is great with that, one of the best.
"I don't know how he was before. But maybe because he didn't always get that when he started out he understands how important it is. Again, that's just Eli - hard worker, commander, leader."
-- Jake Ballard, the second-year tight end.
"Instead of jumping on receivers when they make mistakes, Eli is more likely to pull them aside on the sideline, explain what they had discussed in practice and tell them what he's expecting from them," said former Giants quarterback and current ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck. "When you have a guy who doesn't have a confrontational approach to dealing with things, that's a better way of handling things. One of the reasons he and Kevin Gilbride [Giants’ offensive coordinator] get along so well is because Eli is the way he is. Kevin can be pretty fiery."
"Eli told everybody at the beginning of the season that he's a leader," Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty said. "And he's proven that with his performance."
"I think a leader is someone who motivates someone to achieve a goal or change their actions or improve their actions, and Eli has that ability," Barden said. "Now, he's not the kind of guy who's going to get in your face or ride you and yell at you. He displays his displeasure or his emotion as anyone else does, but he goes about it in a way so that it doesn't negatively affect the game."
-- Ramses Barden, Giants’ third-year receiver, discussing Manning’s statement about his elite status as an NFL quarterback.
Elite Status as Quarterback
"That's been obvious to me, since I've been here and you want that kind of attitude out of your quarterback. Now he's had the opportunity to prove it beyond a doubt, putting up numbers that are beyond what people expected from him," said Barden. 
Solid Stability
"It's his strength," "You're not dealing with a roller-coaster guy here, you know? These are all young receivers and I know how confident they all are talking to him, trying to tell him what they see," said Sean Ryan, the Giants' second-year receivers coach.
"…But after being with him for a while, it's his consistency not only as a quarterback but as a person that you know you can count on,” Barden said.
At the outset of Manning's fourth season that Tiki Barber introduced himself as a network commentator by calling Manning's leadership skills comical. Months later, Manning led the Giants past the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. Process is all about patience.
"He's all right, he's as tough as they come,"
--Hakeem Nicks, wide-receiver.   
Intelligence and Preparation
"He has functional intelligence. He can sit in a film room and break down route combinations, pass protections, defensive fronts, and he can do it all in about three seconds. Coaches like to get into the habit of running tape over and over so players understand what you're trying to do. Eli doesn't need that. We get excited about fast-twitch athletes, guys who are really explosive physically. He's what you call a fast-twitch thinker."
--Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who coached Manning at Ole Miss.
"For us it's no surprise our offense goes how Eli directs it," Giants left tackle David Diehl said. "His understanding and grasp of our offense, his knowledge of things, the way that he's able to recognize blitzes or coverages or different things. When he is watching film, he notices things that the [defensive] line is doing. Not many quarterbacks pay attention."
A season ago, he was berated by Giants fans for not showing enough emotions on the sidelines during a difficult 10-6 season. Now, it is considered remarkable how he never looks rattled especially during the playoffs. Manning boasts an all-time playoff mark of 6-3.
"I think it is his mentality. It is his approach. Nobody sees what he does behind the scenes. He is a studier and a pounder. He is looking for every little advantage that he can get. He is just trying to be the best he can be to help this team win," head coach Tom Coughlin said.
"If we could all just remember that and use that. He loves playing against the best competition, but it is just all about doing the best for his team."
"I think we are always confident going into games. Guys understand the way to win football games against good teams. Our defense is playing great with pressure and turnovers," Manning said. "Our offense for the most part is protecting the ball and playing smart football. When we have a chance to make a big play we are making them."
Excerpts from ESPN.com (2/4/2012) nytimes.com (01/20/2012) and Sports.yahoo.com (01/16/2012; 2/2/2012).
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