EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Eli Manning believes experience will benefit the Giants' offense this year, and it has nothing to do with his 16 years wearing the team's uniform.
The greater significance in Manning's opinion is that he and his teammates are in their second season operating coach Pat Shurmur's offense. He believes that will result in greater understanding, efficiency and production.
"I think the second year makes a difference," Manning said today after a minicamp practice. "It's not just me, it's more just everybody. You know how receivers are going to run their routes, you know how the line is going to protect. I think the coaches kind of know what concepts we've had success with, what we like. Coach (Mike) Shula (the offensive coordinator) knows the plays coach Shurmur likes, so you are working on those things. I think it's just a little bit more everybody having a better feel for things. That always makes the quarterback's job easier when everybody is doing kind of what you expect."
Manning certainly is confident in both the team and his ability to lead the offense. He has thrown the ball well through the OTA's and in the first two days of the camp. Manning has connected regularly with wide receivers Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and many others. He was particularly sharp in a red zone drill today.
"I think he is throwing it pretty good," Shula said. "I think there's been some really good connections down the field with both Shep and Golden Tate, and really with some of those other guys, Cody (Latimer) and Bennie (Fowler). I said a month ago, he looks in better shape than he was last year, I still think that. I think he's really dialed in. We have a really good room, we have some really smart quarterbacks. We just have to continue getting the most out of all of them, getting them all ready. That's our job as coaches, getting them all ready to go win on Sunday."
After tomorrow's final camp practice, the Giants will have one final week of OTA's before the veterans depart for a six-week break before training camp begins (the rookies will stay an additional week).
"I think just right now it's a great opportunity to work on the fundamentals," Manning said. "Work on getting everybody on the same page with Golden Tate and new guys that you have, just make sure that they are dialed in. Don't look too far forward, take advantage of this opportunity that we have right here. This is where teams can make strides and make jumps. Obviously, training camp will be here eventually, the mindset changes because you have to start getting ready to play some games soon."
Manning and the Giants' offense will be ready.
*First-round draft choice and Manning backup Daniel Jones continues to impress with his practice performances.
"I see improvement from him every day," Shurmur said. "He displays that he gets it. He is becoming more and more comfortable with what we are doing offensively. He is putting his skills to the test and making plays at every practice. In our view, he is getting better."
"He's got a fast mind, he picks things up pretty well," Shula said. "The things that you ask him to do to maybe make a couple changes, maybe that were different to what he was used to in college, he does pretty quickly. Whether or not it's technique in the pocket, everything that we have asked him to do, he's done it pretty quickly. I think the other thing is he's pretty athletic and he's very serious about his job. We all are, but you see that maturity level in him. Which is obviously one of the reasons we got him here."
Jones has also earned praise from the player he someday expects to succeed.
"I think Daniel's done a good job," Manning said. "He throws the ball well. I think he's learning the offense, it's a lot thrown at you. Especially going against NFL defenses. A lot more looks, a lot more blitzes, a lot more protection adjustments and different things. You are going to make every mistake there is. I think at that stage it's just trying not to repeat the same mistakes. I think he's done a good job of just getting a little bit more comfortable each day. Not trying to do too much, but just knowing your assignments and trying to do your job."
*Through two weeks of OTA's and the minicamp, defensive coordinator James Bettcher has been pleased with his unit's progress on the field. But his players have impressed him just as much with their commitment elsewhere.
"It might be a crazy thing for you to hear, but I love how they meet," Bettcher said. "Guys ask questions and are highly engaged. They are not just talking about scheme, but they are talking about what the opponent is going to do to the scheme. We are having some of those conversations right now, which is really important to build those blocks now as we head into the summer and into training camp. Really excited about that."
In practice, the defense has been energetic, vocal and aggressive.
"I think these last two days of minicamp have been really competitive," Betthcer said. "Guys have been jawing, but it has been great conversation. Guys have been challenging each other to get better. I am not talking about offense and defense, I am talking about on the defensive side of the ball. Anything that is coach-driven is not going to be nearly as successful as things that are player driven. Our guys are driving it right now. They are the driving force of the work and the driving force of ownership. They are the driving force of accountability on defense and, to me, that is another part that has been exciting."
*As the Giants have been busy this offseason restructuring their roster, they've also revamped their football operations and front office.
Chad Klunder has joined the organization as its first scout coordinator, a position that includes both college and pro scouting.
Klunder previously worked in the football program at Notre Dame from 2003-17. He spent his last five years as the associate athletics director for football operations. Klunder's responsibilities included coordinating and overseeing all day-to-day administrative and operational details including team travel, budgets, pre-season camp arrangements, the annual coaches clinic and summer camps.
Brendan Prophett is an area scout who will concentrate on the Midwest. Prophett spent the previous three seasons as the Detroit Lions' director of pro scouting. In 2015, he was an area scout for the New Orleans Saints.
Prior to his time in New Orleans, Prophett spent 15 seasons as a member of the Jets' personnel staff. From 2007-14, he was the team's director of pro personnel. He joined the organization as a college scouting intern in 2000 and served in several roles, including assistant director of pro scouting, pro scout. Prophett also interned with the NFL Management Council in 2000.
Prophett's first worked in the NFL in 1999 as a pro personnel intern with the Giants.
Tim McDonnell, who spent the previous six seasons as a pro scout, is now the team's assistant director of player personnel, a position in which he will evaluate players for both the pro and college scouting departments.
Corey Lockett is embarking on his first season as a pro scout with the Giants. He was a full-season pro personnel intern with the team in 2017 and 2018.
Chris Pridy, a coaching assistant, has been the top aide to head coaches Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur since his arrival in 2004, will continue in the same capacity as the Giants' director of football administration.
The Giants also added Ben Burress and Kevin Monangai as assistants to the coaching staff.
Pete Guelli is the Giants' new senior vice president and chief commercial officer. Guelli spent the previous 10 years with the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA. Prior to working for the Hornets, he spent 10 years with the Buffalo Bills.