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QB Eli Manning


Q: The Dolphins only have 15 sacks on the season, but got seven sacks last week. What was so dramatically different about their pass rush?

A: They have good players and you have to account for all of their rush ends and linebackers. They do a good job of mixing up some blitzes and getting to the quarterback, showing some different looks. So they are talented. You can't sit back there and hold the ball real long. Try to get the ball out in a timely fashion. Make sure the receiver is getting open. It's just a matter of everybody understanding what our rules are and being sound in our assignments. Also, making sure guys are getting open, getting the ball out quick.

Q: They'll send a lot of guys from the second and third level.

A: They will. They'll bring some safety blitzes and show a lot of different looks. Each game they tend to have a few new blitzes, new looks. We can prepare for what we've seen, but also have to expect for there to be something new. Our rules should be sound in that, should have answers for whatever they do. It's just a matter of seeing what their game plan is going to be, seeing what their adjustments are and make adjustments as the game goes on.

Q: Will the experience of facing Seattle, which on paper is a weak team, help in this situation?

A: Each game is its own game. It's a matter of going out there, having a great week of preparation. I thought we had a good start knowing the game plan, executing it well, not making mistakes and figuring out a way to win the game at the end.

Q: Are there characteristics that you see of a team that does not get a lot of turnovers as opposed to a team that does?

A: I've seen the ball on the ground a few times. I've seen some opportunities for interceptions. They just haven't made them. They do some good things defensively that cause some problems and you have to be smart with the ball. They've played in a lot of tight games. They could easily have several wins to their record right now. A lot of games coming into the fourth quarter and the opposing team just made some big plays to get wins. They play extremely hard. They have talent on both sides and it's just a matter of we have to play smart football and know that we have to have a great day of execution and go out there and play well.

Q: Do you think the new bye week rules have anything to do with the lack of success teams have had after their byes?

A: No. It's not something that we've looked into or worry about. We know what the circumstances are. A lot of guys taking care of their body during the bye week, came back refreshed. We had a good practice Monday, another good one today. It's just a matter of guys being mentally strong, being able to prepare this week and get ready to play.

Q: When you played them in London, were they winless too?

A: I'm not sure. [It was a] close game. Every game this year going into the fourth quarter they've been up some [or] they've been down a point or two. They played New England very tight. They were about to score to put it to seven. They don't score on a fourth-and-one and all of a sudden New England gets a 99-yard touchdown on the next play. It's little things like that that have opened up some games. [Against] the Jets they had great opportunities early on. They just didn't get some touchdowns. They ended up throwing an interception (that was returned) 100 yards. Little things like that have prevented them from winning some tight games. A lot of them have come down to the wire. They've played teams tight so we have to expect that. It is going to be a tight game. They are talented. We have to come out expecting to play great from the get-go and finish strong also.

Q: Does that make them dangerous, that they've had little things go wrong and one day they might go right?

A: Exactly. That's what I'm saying. They have talent. They do good things. A lot of teams have had trouble with them. Teams aren't going in there and scoring a whole lot of points against them. You have to be sound. You can't give them easy plays. And you can't give them turnovers. And you can't give them good field position. So we have to take care of our business on all three phases of the game and make sure we're doing good things.

Q: What about you guys? Everybody seemed to be on the same page and now you're off for two weeks.

A: That's fine. You can get it back in practice. Continue to make good decisions. Everybody understands the game plan. It's a team we don't play very often. We have new guys in here that have never played against them. We just have to prepare real hard this week, get a feel for what they're doing, how they play things a little differently and make sure there are no surprises come Sunday.

Q: What have you seen from their corners?

A: They mix it up. They play different techniques and they do a good job being aggressive and jumping a few things, but they will play some man and a lot of their defenses are man in principle. But they do a good job of mixing things up. They're very sound. They play smart football.

Q: How eager are you to see Ramses Barden back?

A: He's been practicing so it's good to get him back here in the flow of things. Obviously guys are playing well right now, but it does give you another body and another guy who knows the offense. He'll be good to go and [we'll] figure out a way to use him.

Q: Gives you a big body, too.

A: Definitely.  Definitely [will] use his size. A big target.

Q: Your QB rating is 20 points higher than your career average. What do you attribute that to?

A: Offensive line is doing well. Receivers are getting open, making plays, doing a good job of just finding completions. Everybody is doing their assignments correctly. Guys in the right spot. Have hit some big plays, [we'll] try to stay with that. Not forcing things that aren't there. Play smart football, but also be sound in our offense.

Q: So it's everybody else?

A: That's usually the way it works with quarterbacks. [If] everybody else does their job, it makes my job a lot easier.

Q: Do you feel like you're playing at as high of a level as you've played?

A: I'm not into rating myself right now. I'm trying to win games and I'm trying to put our team in a situation to win games. I think I've done a pretty good job of keeping us in the games and playing smart and trying to make plays at the end. I'm just trying to make my reads, play smart and throw it to the open guy. That's my only concern. And win the game.

Q: What was the key for integrating a guy like Cruz during the lockout?

A: We had some workouts. Victor was at all of our workouts. He might be a slot guy. We didn't know what was going to happen with Steve [Smith] at the time or when he would be back. Just tried to get a lot of reps. Just tried to talk through a lot of things. He had been here, knew the system somewhat, but had been mostly an outside receiver. Just tried to get him comfortable. When we came back to training camp he had a good feel for what was going on. That's with the tight ends, with everybody. We had a good showing from all of the guys and had a good plan for when we got back here.

Q: Did Boss and Smith leaving put more of a burden on you to get these guys up to speed?

A: It's a burden on them to get themselves up to speed.

Q: How did it affect you?

A: I don't know if it affected me really. It's just a matter of those guys – Ballard, Victor, Hakeem, Manningham – those guys are playing well. Ahmad's catching the ball well out of the backfield. They've done a good job of getting themselves ready to play. If they're doing the right thing and they're in the right spots, it's my job to throw to them. They have the hard job of getting open. I have the easier job.

Q: Didn't you have to coach them up?

A: Yeah, you have to coach them and talk them through little odds and ends. I don't think you ever stop doing that. Each week there's going to be little tricks, little hints, little ideas that we have, that the coaches have, that I have, about how to get open. Just so they have an understanding of what to expect, how this defense is a little bit different, why this play is in. I think that's just a matter of, especially with young guys who haven't played a whole lot, trying to give them little tips and try to get great looks in practice so things that happen in practice and happen in games are the same. With young guys you don't get great practice looks, they haven't had a whole lot of game experience. A certain play, they haven't seen it versus 10 different looks. They've just seen it for that one look in practice. It's important that we get great looks.

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