*Pat Shurmur and Eli Manning discuss getting to know one each other during voluntary minicamp: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It's still very early in their relationship, but Pat Shurmur and Eli Manning are clearly going to enjoy working together as the Giants' head coach and quarterback.
Manning, preparing for his 15th Giants season, and Shurmur, who is planning for his first, were on the practice field for the first time yesterday when the Giants opened their voluntary minicamp. The initial impressions were all positive.
"Well, first, with Eli [Manning], this guy's a pro," Shurmur said. "What you noticed about him is you only have to run a play or two, and he gets the drill calibrated and he gets his feet right and he makes the throw. I quickly, after being with him one day on the field, see why he's been so successful for so long. He's a pro. And I admired what he did yesterday in the first time out."
Shurmur will be Manning's third head coach, following Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo (and not counting 2017 interim coach Steve Spagnuolo).
"I think every coach is going to be a little different," Manning said. "I think he (Shurmur) does like to coach on the field. Some coaches like to just run the plays and then coach you in the film room after. He likes to (after) each play have a quick discussion. Some you don't, some you do. But, he'll grab a receiver, he'll grab me and just talk a little bit about what you do well, what you could have done better. I think he had a good demeanor the whole time.
"But he's a coach, he likes to coach up the guys and get everybody on the same page. It's a little different, it's kind of the first time you're running things. A lot of times in this time of year you have a few weeks to practice some routes and practice things on the field before you go practice them. This year you're kind of thrown right into the mix and we're kind of learning on the fly a little bit."
For Manning and second-year quarterback Davis Webb, they are taking an accelerated course learning the offense taught by Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula. Manning spent his first 10 seasons in Coughlin's offensive system, with Kevin Gilbride the coordinator for most of those years. McAdoo installed a new offense in 2014, and became head coach in 2016.
Now Shurmur, the 2017 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, is instituting a system that has been highly successful. What's currently most important for Manning is that he is picking it up rapidly and easily.
"Not a huge change," Manning said. "There is always going to be new plays. It's kind of a combination. There are some plays that are similar to last year, there are some plays that are similar to Coach Gilbride and Coach Coughlin's offense, so it's a combination. I think at this point you see most plays being run, it's just kind of the wording, how you get it called and make sure as a play is coming in you can visualize it quickly, you can get the words out and you can get to your adjustments and protections and change plays. It's really more about just running the offense even after the play is called and all that verbiage, and make sure everybody is on the same page."
Of course, mastering the offense is only part of Manning's preparation. After 228 career games (including postseason contests), he remains in top physical condition. Shurmur said recently that Manning is the fittest 37-year old he's ever seen.
"Well, I heard that's what coach says," Manning said. "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."
After the Giants finished 3-13 last year, no one was certain what the future held for Manning or anyone once. He is grateful that general manager Dave Gettleman and Shurmur have both been overwhelmingly supportive and have been unambiguous that they want Manning to remain the starting quarterback.
"It helps," Manning said. "Obviously, when you feel that the coaches and the GM and everybody is excited about working with you, has your back and looking forward to good things. Obviously, I have to prove that and do that every day and get on the field and make sure I'm making the right decisions, protecting the ball, making good throws and learning this offense quickly. I think we're off to a good start, but we have a lot of football left."
So, clearly, does Eli Manning.
The Giants take the field for the second day of voluntary minicamp!