New general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur have made it clear that they believe Eli Manning has years – plural – remaining in his career.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP turned 37 in January and is set to break Michael Strahan's record for most games played in a Giants uniform in Week 1 against Jacksonville (Manning is currently tied for first with the Hall of Famer at 216 games). While the feat will not be taken lightly by Manning, it won't mean a thing if he doesn't get another ring. Shurmur, who guided Case Keenum to a career season as Minnesota's offensive coordinator in 2017, has called Manning the "fittest 37-year-old" he has ever seen.
In typical Manning fashion, the quarterback responded to his coach's remark: "Well, I heard that's what coach says. I guess he hasn't been around too many 37-year-olds maybe. No, I feel good. I'm moving around well. I'm always working on my flexibility and my conditioning and offseason lifting and everything, so I haven't relaxed on that in any sense. I know I need that to kind of keep up with those other guys, but I feel good in that sense and I have to keep it that way."
The Giants are trying to extend that durability by providing him with a rebuilt offensive line and a group of weapons that rivals the best he has ever had in his prior 14 seasons. But if last year taught us anything, talent on paper means nothing. Shurmur will try to bring those skills to life.
"I think it is going really well," Manning said earlier this month at minicamp about the installation of the new offense. "I feel comfortable with it, I visualize it. The receivers are cutting fast and know what they are doing. The offensive line is doing a good job. Obviously, we have a couple of new pieces and people in there, especially on the offensive line group. I think they are adjusting and communicating well. Obviously, every day is important. Get a little comfortable and confident everyday with the offense and the calls and the adjustments we can make. We are doing some good things, but we still have a lot of work to do."
Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Mike Shula, formerly of the Carolina Panthers, will try to carry out Shurmur's vision of the offense. They want to use multiple personnel and "make the defense defend the whole field" by playing to the strengths of their players.
"I'm excited to continue to work with [Manning]," Shula said. "We talk in our profession about coming to work every day, being the same guy, having the guys around you know what to expect from you and he's the true example of that. He's really worked hard to learn this offense as fast as anybody and again, not just to learn it but to learn all the adjustments. He's got such a good feel of what he knows we're going to have to make moving forward even though sometimes we might not have even talked about them here already because it's just our defense. But all that being said, his timing is good, he's been accurate, he knows how to find guys if number one isn't open and those are all things that hopefully he will continue to improve on and he will probably be the first to tell you that he needs to continue to improve and get better for us to keep taking steps."
Including Manning, the quarterback room is currently four players deep. Here is a look at the rest of the group:
Davis Webb: The Giants' third-round draft pick out of Cal spent his rookie season third on the depth chart and did not appear in a game. During that time, he was tied to the hip of Manning, trying to soak up all he could from the decorated veteran. Now he finds himself running the second-team offense, which he did throughout spring workouts.
"I think it's hard to say exactly where he has taken the biggest jump. He has taken big strides and I think he's flashed for sure during some practices," Shula said. "I really like his arm strength, he can be really accurate. Again, he will probably be the first to tell you that he can work on his consistency. If everything is not right, finding the outlet and fixing it sometimes. It might not be a great call against that defense, knowing how to fix it, maybe a receiver falls down or whatever or there is a protection and knowing where to go when those things happen. But all those guys are and he is another good example of guys that are really eager to learn the offense as well as they can and he comes to work with the mindset that he wants to prove to himself and everybody in this building that he can play."
Kyle Lauletta: For the second consecutive year, the Giants drafted a Senior Bowl MVP quarterback in the middle rounds, albeit with different general managers. This year, it was Lauletta in the fourth round. With a college degree already in hand and looking at his fourth offensive coordinator in four years, Lauletta had every right to transfer from Richmond in his final year of eligibility. But he decided to stay. His former Spiders head coach Russ Huesman likes to tell that story to scouts, coaches, fans, media – anyone wanting to know more about the quarterback.
"Nowadays everybody transfers, and all these grad school guys are leaving and finding a different niche," Huesman said this offseason on "Big Blue Kickoff Live" on Giants.com. "And we got here, it was his fourth coordinator and a new staff, he had already graduated, he's a double major in business and leadership, he's a 3.6 GPA kid. He could have very easily graduated at the end of spring, called Oregon, some other places, some big, big-time BCS programs and they would have taken him with open arms and he'd have been extremely, extremely successful. He told me he would never leave Richmond because of his teammates and what the University of Richmond did for him. That's loyalty."
The 6-foot-2, 222-pound quarterback went on to set the program's single-season record for total offense, earning an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he won Most Outstanding Player honors a year after Webb took home the award. He was also named the Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year after becoming just the fourth player in conference history to throw for more than 10,000 yards.
In 40 games at Richmond, he completed 758 of 1,194 passes (63.5 percent) for 10,465 yards, 73 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. In none of them did Lauletta lean on the revolving door at coordinator as a crutch. If anything, it taught him to remain calm in the face of adversity, a pretty important trait for the player running your offense.
"It's early, we haven't done anything in pads, we haven't played any games," Shula said, "but he has a nice calmness about himself that if things don't go exactly how they are drawn out on the board, his mind works pretty fast so far and he finds the next guy, gets through his progressions. He has a good feel for anticipation and touch and things like that, so I think he's off to a good start."
Alex Tanney: Signed in early May, Tanney, 6-4 and 220 pounds, spent the 2017 season on the Tennessee Titans' injured reserve list after breaking his left foot in the preseason finale. He has played in one NFL game. On Jan. 3, 2016 – the 2015 season finale – he completed 10 of 14 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee's loss at Indianapolis.
Tanney was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. After his release on May 2, 2013, he was with Dallas, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Buffalo, Indianapolis and the Titans again. Tanney played in 47 games for Monmouth College in Illinois, where he set NCAA Division II records with 14,249 passing yards and 157 touchdown passes.