As general manager of an NFL team, Jerry Reese has a lot of things to worry about every year. He’s glad that starting quarterback is not one of them, nor will it be for the foreseeable future. With Eli Manning, Reese said he has the team’s “number one worker” and a player who he thinks is “an ascending player.”
It was last year that Reese said Manning needed to step up his leadership on the team, particularly when some key pieces left town (remember that guy named Steve Smith we made such a big deal about?). Manning was coming off a 25-interception season and a two-year playoff drought. But Reese insisted that the organization never had any doubts about Manning.
“You guys were asking those questions,” he said to the media. “We, us, personally, myself, we think Eli has been a tremendous quarterback for a long time. Again, it's a nice thing for media guys to talk about. In our eyes Eli has been a really good player for a long time and it's very comforting to have him. Last year I said he was still in his wheelhouse. He is an ascending player. I still believe that. He hasn't leveled off. He can still improve and he wants to improve. That's the thing about him that we love.”
Reese said he doesn’t think a second Super Bowl MVP took any pressure off of Manning.
“Well, he had already won a Super Bowl,” Reese said. “The guy has played at a high level at college. He has the Manning name. He is used to the pressure. I really don't think those things bother him. He is pretty cool under pressure, if you want to frame it like that, but he's always the same and we like that about him."
Manning enjoyed the spoils of this offseason, appearing on Saturday Night Live and doing some commercials and other events like the ESPYs. But he also made sure that none of that interfered with his offseason workouts. And he’s been one of the more vocal players this preseason in saying that the Giants need to improve on their 9-7 regular season record from last year, calling 9-7 “not good enough.”
"Offseason, when we get out here to training camp and OTAs, he is all business,” Reese said of Manning. “No one works harder than him. He comes early and stays late. He sets the standard for what we do. He is our number one worker.”
(And yes, in that picture above, there is the Giants' number one worker coming in last during the conditioning run.)