Brandon Marshall joked this week that Eli Manning has a lot of work to do if he wants to dethrone Ryan Fitzpatrick as the best quarterback he’s ever played with.
In reality, Manning is one of the big reasons why Marshall signed with the Giants.
“It’s a quarterback-driven league,” the veteran receiver said, defending his motivation.
Marshall is not the first player to admit that being Manning’s teammate was a driving force in his arrival with the Giants. Last year it was defensive end Olivier Vernon, who spent four fruitless seasons with the Dolphins, talking about Manning and his resume as a Super Bowl winner being a big draw on the open market.
“That doesn’t surprise me,” Marshall said. “A lot of smart defensive ends, they want to play with great quarterbacks because that means they have the lead and that means other teams are in two-minute mode, which means more sacks for the defensive ends.”
Marshall’s reasons were slightly different than Vernon’s. The overall objective, though, is the same: To win a title.
The problem is that so far Marshall has caught just as many passes from Manning in game situations as Vernon has. Zero. The two played in just one game together and never connected. For all of their work on chemistry and reading each other and fine-tuning their routes, Manning and Marshall will go into Sunday’s opener against the Cowboys virtually untested.
“Brandon and I will be on the same page,” Manning said. “But, again, there’s always a learning curve. . . . It doesn’t mean we’ll complete every pass that I throw to him, but we’ve gotten a lot of work and communicate all the time about the different things. So, I expect us to go out there and make the plays that we need to make.”
Marshall has spent the past few months hounding Manning for information and feedback, whether it was via Facetime video chats during the offseason or impromptu chalk talk sessions during training camp.
“I think the number one thing that stands out now after being here a couple of months is Eli being approachable,” Marshall said. “I’ve had a lot of situations like: ‘Wow, this guy is humble and he’s an amazing leader, amazing teammate.’”
Marshall raved about an interaction in practice a week ago when Manning hit him on a touchdown pass in the red zone. Marshall approached Manning after the play.
“I was like: ‘What did you think about it?’” Marshall said. “He told me how he felt and he was like: ‘What do you think?’ I said: ‘I think it was off a little bit. I think we were a second late.’ And he was like: ‘Yeah. I could have done this and this and that.’ I was like: ‘Wow.’ That was impressive for me to be able to give him that feedback and him receive that. He’s just awesome.”
Manning wasn’t the only reason Marshall signed with the Giants after being released by the Jets. He listed his four criteria for teams when he was a free agent. First was stability in ownership. Second was a championship-caliber quarterback. Third was a great defense. Fourth was a team that already had a number one receiver on the other side.
“That was my formula,” Marshall said. “That’s what I was looking for.”
He found all of it here with the Giants.
Everything except Fitzpatrick.