Quarterbacks are usually judged by their arms. For Eli Manning, this year may come down to his feet.
The quarterback and those who have been in his ear since the season began spoke on Monday about the importance of footwork in new coordinator Ben McAdoo's West Coast offense. From the sound of it, those changes to Manning's steps may be the most significant that take place all season.
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"The very basis of this scheme is having your feet in position to make a play at the right time," Tom Coughlin said. "It's something this offense has relied upon since Bill Walsh."
For Manning, who has moved the same way for 10 NFL seasons, it's like being asked to learn to walk a different way.
"There's more shotgun footwork and mechanics and kind of listening to your feet," Manning said. "You're going to take this type of drop out of the gun, and if it's not open on that first step you've got to listen to your feet, get through your progression so when you have to scramble you're in a good position ... Some of those things are taught differently than what we've done in the past."
And they have to happen in concert with the routes that are being run.
"We want our footwork to match what's going on downfield," quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf said. "If our footwork is correct, it's telling you, 'OK, it's time to throw the ball.' We want to trust our feet and know that it's time to either get rid of it or get out of there. We don't want him standing back there holding the ball, taking sacks. We want him to take his drop and make sure his feet are telling him it's time to do something."
So how has Manning been adjusting to the new dance moves?
"I like it," he said. "I think it makes sense. You can rely on it, but it's not only remembering the play and the protection but also remembering, 'Do I take a step with my right foot first or my left foot?' Those things have to become second-nature."