There are plenty of reasons why quarterbacks are expected to blossom in their second NFL season. They’re taking the flood of knowledge and experience that nearly drowned them as a rookie and they are supposed to be able to harness it. It’s why many will be watching the Giants' Daniel Jones very closely this upcoming season, to see how he grows as a player and as a leader.
Eli Manning said there is one other benefit Jones will have going for him in 2020: That Eli Manning won’t be there.
“I think it’ll be easier this year for him to step up as that leader,” the recently retired Manning said Monday on SiriusXM’s NFL Radio. “Last year it was probably awkward for him, me being there and me being in meeting rooms, kind of the whole dynamic. Me being gone, he is the quarterback and he is the guy. [It’ll be good] for him to have that control and authority over the receivers and offensive line.”
That may have been the first time either of last year’s quarterbacks admitted that their situation was “awkward.” The Giants drafted Jones with the sixth overall pick in April 2019 with Manning heading into the final year of his contract. Manning began the season as the starting quarterback but was replaced by Jones in Week 3. Manning started two games late in the season while Jones recovered from an ankle injury, then Jones finished the season.
Despite whatever level of awkwardness existed, the two maintained a high level of professionalism. They also share a bond, not just as teammates but as starting quarterbacks for the Giants. And Manning clearly appreciated Jones’ abilities on and off the field as well as his personality . . . which many have noted is eerily similar to Manning’s.
“He’s proven to be tough and work hard,” Manning said. “He’s done all the right things. He’s gone with that approach of keeping his head down and not saying more than he has to and working hard and earning the respect of his teammates.
"Now he can elevate that to where now he’s in charge,” Manning continued. “The questions are coming to him from the coordinator and he has to give his voice and his opinion on things. Obviously he has to learn a new offense and get total control of that before he can earn the respect of the new coaching staff that is coming in, but he’ll do a great job. He’ll figure out how to play, how to win football games in the NFL with his style, and I think he has the respect of the team and I think he’ll go out there and have a great year.”
Eli Manning on Daniel Jones
Manning said he has spoken with Jones recently, mostly about the dynamics of going through a virtual offseason program.
“He says it’s going well but it is a little different,” Manning said. “Hopefully they’ll be back real soon and be able to get back to work.”
Of course, Manning and Jones are not the first quarterbacks to survive such a relationship. During the radio interview, Manning was asked for his thoughts on the Packers, who used a first-round pick on Jordan Love while Aaron Rodgers is still playing at a high level.
“It was a little bit of déjà vu,” Manning said before relating the situation to when the Packers drafted Rodgers with Brett Favre still their starting quarterback.
Host Bob Papa, the radio voice of the Giants, later chuckled that when Manning said “déjà vu” he was expecting the quarterback to make a reference to his own situation with Jones last season.
“Well, that also,” Manning said. “That also.”
ELI PITCHING IN
Manning made the appearance to preview his involvement in next week’s “Rise Up New York!” benefit being held by the poverty-fighting organization Robin Hood in conjunction with iHeartMedia. Manning and other former teammates, including Michael Strahan, have started a GoFundMe page called “Always a Giant” that is collecting funds for Robin Hood. “This is a time where people have to step up and rise up to help your neighbor,” Manning said. “People are in desperate need, they need food, their children need food, and we have to find a way to help them . . . These are the people who have cheered for us and have been there with us in tough times and celebrated with us when we won championships. When we went through the Canyon of Heroes they were there cheering for us and had our back during rough times. Now it’s our time to return that favor. They need our help.”
Manning said he has been asking past teammates to help not only with donations but to get the word out about Robin Hood. “I don’t have social media, I need your social media platform,” he said he tells teammates and others. “I don’t ask much. I’ve never gone about and asked this of them before or asked others to get involved with charities or asked for money. When they saw that, they realized we have to jump on this and be the leaders in this.” The hourlong “Rise Up New York!” telethon will be broadcast on all local television stations on May 11 at 7 p.m.