In 2014, Eli Manning threw 13 fewer interceptions than he did the previous year. But Manning hopes improving from 27 picks to 14 is the beginning of a journey to an even lower total in 2015.
"I would like to get that in single digits," Manning said today. "I think that is kind of a goal every year, that eight number. You would obviously like to have zero, but understanding football and funny things can happen, so one every two games (is the) mindset."
Also last year, Manning completed a career-high and franchise-record 63.1 percent of his passes (379 of 601). But he wasn't satisfied with that, either.
"You aim for that 70 percent again," Manning said. "I think of that from a game-to-game standpoint. I want to be 70 percent for this game. It might not happen every single game, but if you can go for that by game, sometimes you might not get it, and for the season it might not be 70 percent, but each game shoot for that 70 percent."
Manning was in attendance at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center for the opening of the Giants' offseason conditioning program. The players are eager to return to work and begin the process of improvement after finishing 6-10 last season.
"Everybody was excited to be back," said Manning, who is preparing for his 12th season as the Giants' quarterback. "I recognize more faces this year than last year. Last year, we had a lot of new players, on offense and defense. I thought coming in last year my first priority was to learn my teammates, which was ahead of learning the offensive playbook. This year you still have some new guys, which you always do. (There are) more familiar faces all around and you should be able to build a pretty good understanding of the offense going in and now (we) can keep learning that and get better with it."
One of the new Giants is running back Shane Vereen, who caught 11 passes for the New England Patriots in their victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX. Vereen played his first four NFL seasons in New England, so this is the first time he has changed teams.
"I was excited when I woke up," said Vereen, who met many of his new teammates for the first time. "I was excited when I walked in the door. I wasn't as nervous as I thought I was going to be. I am ready to meet the guys and get acclimated. I am excited to experience something new, and I want to hit the ground running. I haven't really been through this before."
"I'm excited to work with Shane and see how he can help out our offense," Manning said. "I think Rashad Jennings and Andre (Williams) did a great job last year and can do that. Shane, from what I have seen on film and from watching the Patriots, has a unique skill set that we will have to find ways to get him touches out of the backfield and move him around. I am excited to see how we will use him in different ways and how it will help us out."
The Giants players returned to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center for offseason workouts
Vereen will add a new dimension to an offense that Manning expects to continue to improve this year. Last season, Ben McAdoo was installing the system as the team's new offensive coordinator. The offense made impressive strides in his first year as the play-caller. The Giants totaled 5,875 net yards in 2014, the fourth-highest total in franchise history. Their 336 first downs were the third-highest total in Giants history.
The Giants finished 10th in the NFL in total offense one year after they were ranked 28th. They averaged 367.2 yards a game, a 59.7 yards-per-game improvement over their 2013 average of 307.5. The Giants increased their per-game yardage both on the ground (100.2 rushing yards per game from 83.3) and through the air (267.0 passing yards a game from 224.3). They ranked seventh in the league in passing yardage.
"I think there is definitely room for improvement," Manning said. "We can still cut down on the turnovers. I think we need to score more points as an offense. I think the second half of the season we showed improvement from the first half, especially those last six games we were doing some good things offensively and scoring more points and (being) more efficient on third down. Anytime you are in a new offense, you want to see improvements and you want to see a progression of getting better and having a better understanding of concepts and eliminating some of the bad plays. I thought we did a good job of doing that, so we have to build off that and understand that we have to work our tails off this time of year and into training camp to make sure we are making those improvements to have a great understanding of the offense and (having) everyone playing at a high level so we can play the way we need to (in order) to win more games."