*Eli Manning is ready to begin working with new head coach Pat Shurmur: *
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – In 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles finished in the NFC East basement with a 7-9 record. This season, they rose to the division title with a 13-3 record, and on Sunday, they will face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Eli Manning today said the Giants – who fell to last place with a 3-13 record – can enjoy a similar improvement in 2018.
"I think we can turn it around," Manning said. "The year before we were an 11-win team. There is talent there. Not much has changed between both years. We have to get back healthy. There will be some additions, but we have to play better football. There is enough talent to win a lot of football games."
Barring an unexpected reversal, Manning will lead the hoped-for revival as the team's starting quarterback. The Giants' new football hierarchy - general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur – have said Manning will retain his longtime job in his 15th season.
"That is the starting point," Manning said. "Now I just keep going about my job, learning this offense and wait for spring to start practicing with the team and getting everyone back up to speed.
"I'm excited. I have to go out there, play well, win games and do my job. I have to do it at a high level."
Manning spoke in the Mall of America as a spokesman for Courtyard by Marriott, the official hotel of the NFL, which created a Super Bowl sleepover contest. He greeted the winners of the contest, who tomorrow night will sleep in one of the field suites in U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of Sunday's Super Bowl LII. During the appearance, Manning fielded questions from reporters for approximately 10 minutes.
He strongly endorses the hiring of both Gettleman and Shurmur.
"Obviously, I've known Dave Gettleman," Manning said. "I think bringing him back is great. He has been a GM before and he knows the New York Giants. He is talking about getting the offensive line and defensive line straight. You win with the big guys, so I think he will do a good job. Coach Shurmur, I got to speak with him a few times. He's a very nice guy and he has had success. I'm excited to get back to work and learn this offense. Getting guys back in the spring and get working on it."
Manning has not yet immersed himself in Shurmur's playbook, in part because the collective bargaining agreement limits how much players can do at this time of year.
"I don't know what the rules are officially," Manning said. "I'll do everything by the book. Whatever we are allowed to do, I'll do it."
Along those lines, he is studying the offense of the Minnesota Vikings, for whom Shurmur was the coordinator the previous two seasons.
"Watched their offense, a couple games from last year," Manning said. "Try and had the plays written on the screen so I can start learning the terminology and putting it all together. Just calling plays and seeing some of the schemes they were running.
"I think having a combination of offenses over the years and where he has been, whether it is Andy Reid, Chip Kelly or Norv Turner before, it is a combination of things and adjust well. I'm excited to learn it and figure out what we are doing."
Manning might be learning it with another big-name quarterback. The Giants own the second overall selection in the NFL Draft and could select one of several highly-touted quarterbacks, such as USC's Sam Darnold or UCLA's Josh Rosen.
Manning has maintained he's not worried about that, and he didn't change his tune today.
"Whatever they draft, I'm fine with," he said. "It is about me doing my job and that is playing quarterback. … All I can worry about is doing my job. I have to go out there, compete and win games. If I do that, everything else will work itself out."
Asked if he would try to instigate his departure from the Giants if they drafted a quarterback at No. 2, Manning answered with a firm, "no."
When Manning arrived in 2004, he competed with and learned from veteran Kurt Warner, who started the season's first nine games before Manning became the starter. Would Manning embrace being a mentor?
"Yes, in a sense," he said. "Obviously, it is not your job to mentor someone. I would not look at it as that role. It is my job to prepare and compete. Just be ready to play each and every game. In that process, I think you are always talking football and helping out the other guys in the room. With (rookie) Davis Webb this year and Geno (Smith), you always have backup quarterbacks and you are always helping them out. Nothing changes. It is about doing your job and also helping the guys around you and having great communication in the quarterback room. That has always been important to me.
"I'm not going to give a cold shoulder to anyone. You are always trying to help other guys and talk. I think that is just part of being a quarterback."
Manning started 210 consecutive regular season games before Smith played the entire game at Oakland on Dec. 3. At the time, public speculation was rampant that perhaps Manning wanted to finish his career elsewhere. But he started the season's final four games and is the strong favorite to open the season as the starter. He was asked this morning if he is more confident he will play his entire career with the Giants.
"I think in most people's case you think you are going to finish your career with that team until you don't," he said. "I have all intentions of finishing my career with the Giants. In football, it is like everything, it is year-by-year. You take it that way and just go from there."
One fact is clear. Though Manning turned 37 a month ago, he believes he has a lot of good football left in his career. New England's Tom Brady will be 40 years, 185 days old when he plays in the Super Bowl on Sunday, and Manning can think of no reason why he can't continue to excel.
"I still can make throws and my body feels good," he said. "I still can run around, train and do everything I want to do. I don't have any indication that I'm going to slow down or have a big drop off."
If the Giants will indeed mimic the Eagles' one-year turnaround, Manning is poised to lead it.