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Quotes (9/18): Pat Shurmur, Eli Manning, Daniel Jones, Nate Solder

Head Coach Pat Shurmur

Opening Statement: First, the injuries. Grant Haley had an illness. He was feeling better as the day went along. Cody Latimer is in the concussion protocol, and Zeitler is dealing with the shoulder that he dealt with last week. He should be fine but he didn’t go today. Dickerson was back practicing, Sterling is going through the protocol, he had a non-contact day. That’s why you saw him in the yellow jersey, he looked good running around. (Darius) Slayton was back out there and so that’s that with the injuries.

Obviously, the topic of conversation yesterday was the quarterback switch. I talked to all the parties involved yesterday morning and then they quickly got back to work and did Tuesday things where they were getting ready for the week. We have a switch in roles, but it should come as no surprise to anybody that that’s been a great relationship since the day we drafted Daniel. They have both helped each other, they’re both preparing to play if they have to play and they both assist each other, whoever the one that is playing, and I think that’s what we can expect from Eli. When you’re talking about people and emotions, those conversations, I’m going to keep that between me and certainly Eli. You can go back on any presser I’ve done and find the words that I have said about him all along, that hasn’t changed. That’s where we’re at, Daniel is our starter, Eli will back him up and we’re moving forward.

Q: Do you believe that Daniel Jones is the better quarterback right now?

A: Daniel Jones is ready to play, and we are going with him. Yes, and the reason I say that is we do everything we can to win football games and at this point we feel like he’s the guy we want to move forward with.

Q: When did you come to this decision, and what did you factor into it?

A: I think about all this stuff all the time, and again, it’s not all about Eli, there’s other factors involved, our team, where we’re at and moving forward. Most of the thought for me happened after the game.

Q: What makes now the right time? There is a school of thought that if you brought Eli Manning back and you paid Eli Manning to be the starting quarterback, two games is not enough of a window?

A: I don’t understand that narrative because Daniel Jones is going to have the benefit to start here 14 games, of a guy who is what being a Giant exemplifies. Not only as a player, but as a person. He’s going to have the benefit of this guy’s assistance as we go through it. My gut told me it was the right time, but that narrative that you don’t bring Eli back, I think that’s just something for us all to talk about.

Q: Who had to sign off on this decision?

A: I certainly made the decision, and I had the conversation with all the parties involved. At some point, they said, ‘Are you sure” and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m sure.’

Q: Does that include Dave Gettleman and John Mara?

A: Yes, absolutely, you don’t do these things without talking to the people that you just mentioned, and Steve (Tisch) and so on.

Q: Do you believe the move could jumpstart this football team?

A: We are trying to win a football game, and we feel like along the way here, Daniel Jones has showed us that when he gets his opportunity he is going to play well.

Q: Did anything he do from the day you drafted him to today say in your mind that this has happened faster than you expected?

A: Well, we are going to see. He’s going to play in his first regular season game Sunday against Tampa at 4 o’clock and so we will see. To this point, I think it’s safe to say in our minds he has checked off all the boxes in everything we have asked him to do. We’ll get him ready to go play, put a plan together that he can utilize, and we’ll go to work.

Q: What changed from Week Four of the preseason to Tuesday that Jones jumped Eli?

A: I think it was just my gut that it was time to make that move. I think when you draft a guy like we did, at some point, this was going to happen. I felt like this was the time.

Q: Do you expect Eli to be with this organization until the end of the season?

A: Based on what I heard yesterday and based on what I saw today, he’s doing everything in his power to be ready to play if he has to go in. He’s doing everything in his power to help Daniel get ready. I don’t foresee anything that would make me think he won’t be here.

Q: Usually when a team goes to a younger quarterback they try to trim the playbook a little bit. Does Daniel open up things that you weren’t able to touch with Eli?

A: No, and again you try to run plays against the team you are going to face. We did some things against Buffalo that we didn’t take full advantage of that would have helped us win that football game. Every play that goes in, the quarterback that’s running that play has a little bit different interpretation of it. His eyes sometimes go to a place slower or quicker than others. To answer your question, he’s got the ability to run our full offense.

Q: Will the offense look any different?

A: It should look the same schematically, I’ll let the changes in tactics reveal themselves, so to speak. We want to score more points. I think that’s what we are looking for. We’re looking for better results.

Q: In terms of speaking with Eli yesterday, were you struck by the weight of that moment? Of what he has been here, what he has represented here and that he may have taken his final snap as a starting quarterback of this organization?

A: Yes, I am well aware of all that. We were two guys talking that have a good relationship. I’ve said it all along, Eli is closer to 40 than he is 20 and so that’s how it all started. I sort of knew what I wanted to say when he walked in yesterday morning, but it changed on the run on for me because of the naturalness of two people talking. He quickly left and got to work doing Tuesday things.

Q: Was he more emotional than you during the conversation?

A: I think it was equal.

Q: You have also said in the past that you thought he had years remaining. Has anything in these first two weeks changed your thought, if he does decide he wants to keep playing?

A: Yeah, I think he can play in this league. As I did yesterday, we are making a change moving forward.

Q: Are there things that you have seen in practice that convinces you Daniel can make this transition?

A: Absolutely, the bulk of his work, in our eyes, happens behind the scenes. Just like the bulk of all of work happens behind the scenes. When I walk into the stadium at whatever time on Sunday, two or three hours before the game, I was still here at the building at 5:30 drinking coffee. That’s just an example of what we do is really behind the scenes. I think that’s what we are doing as coaches and as players and then we evaluate it, we put the guys out there and go play.

Q: Do you think having Eli on the headset helping Daniel will be a uniquely different advantage? Not many 16-year quarterbacks are on the headset in regular season games

A: Yeah, I think it’s terrific. I’m trying to answer your question because I don’t see the awkwardness to that or the advantage or disadvantage. I see here’s a guy that knows what he’s doing, knows our offense and if we have one ankle injury, he’s in there. When Daniel comes off, they are going to discuss what’s happened as we move forward, just like we would normally do.

Q: Well, he gives you a different perspective than Alex Tanney?

A: Both equally as good.

Q: You have always been conscious of the locker room and what message you are sending. Separate from the quarterbacks, did you have you talk to the team and tell them why you were making the move?

A: In some ways, this decision was separate, but in many ways, it was connected. The reason I say that is we are all connected in what happens. We haven’t done anything well enough to win the first two games. They are well aware of the fact that everybody in the room has to do what they do better. Yes, I did have that conversation with them.

Q: Do you feel like this team believes like you do that you are moving forward with Daniel to win football games. That this isn’t throwing up a flag and saying we are on to 2020?

A: Absolutely, again, that’s a narrative that I don’t understand. We’re onto playing Tampa Bay. I don’t want to steal somebody else’s phrase, but we are on to playing Tampa Bay and that’s where our focus is in the 2019 season. We all realize there’s a lot of football left to play, and you can see the uncertainty a team faces each week. You get a little juice, you win a football game, who knows what’s going to happen.

Q: What do you say to the notion that Eli is being scapegoated for problems in the first two games that really weren’t his fault?

A: I think I just answered that notion when I spoke to Art’s question. None of us have done what we need to do to win two games. That’s what I would say about that notion. I don’t believe in the scapegoat thing.

Q: How difficult did Daniel make the decision going into the regular season? Was there ever a thought that this kid is ready now, or did you have to see something in the first couple of weeks?

A: I’m going to go back to what I’ve said all along. I believe my words and some folks didn’t. Eli was our starter and we were moving forward getting Daniel ready to play and that’s how we started the year. With the idea that we were going to go out and win our first two games. By now, everybody should understand I try to keep these things simple. I think trying to confuse the issues here is not good.

Q: What should the fans expect from Daniel Jones in your mind?

A: He’s a young, competitive guy that is going to fight. I think he is going to display the toughness, skill and ability that we saw when we drafted him.

Q: Are there any other significant changes in the lineup?

A: Not that I know of.

Q: Will your defensive starters remain the same?

A: Generally speaking, yeah.

Q: What were the qualities, or was there a moment where it clicked for you, that told you that Daniel was ready? What did he do that took you to the point where you said, ‘hey, when we need him, he can go’?

A: Had we needed him in the first two games, he could’ve gone in. So, I feel like he’s ready to go and everybody around him is going to do what they can to support his efforts.

Q: When you talked to us Monday, did you know but out of respect for the principals, you didn’t tell us Monday because Tuesday hadn’t come to have those conversations?

A: This is about respect, too. I hold this organization in high regard, and we are always about respect. What we find sometimes— we are going to find a way to start winning games and earn that respect of winning. But behind the scenes, we are about respect, so I wanted to make sure I went through this process the right way. I’m going to hang on that word.

QB Eli Manning

Q: How are you handling the change?

A: There’s no other option but just to handle it and do my job, support my teammates, support the Giants, and do what I can do to try and go help win some football games. Right now, that’s getting Daniel (Jones) prepared and helping him and supporting him.

Q: Do you wish you had a longer opportunity this year to show what you have?

A: You can wish all you want, that’s not the way it played out. In some ways, I signed up for this knowing when you draft a young quarterback this can happen. I’ve got to live with it and make the best of it.

Q: What was your initial reaction when Coach Shurmur told you yesterday?

A: I knew there was a possibility and I just said I’ll handle it, I’ll support Daniel, I’ll be a good teammate and do what I’m told.

Q: Just two games in, was there any element of surprise with the decision?

A: When you’re a football player, you do what you’re told and this is what I’ve been told and I’ll handle it.

Q: Do you anticipate being here for the whole season, doing what you’re told for the next 14-15 weeks?

A: Yeah, I mean I haven’t thought much past this week. So, just kind of taking it day by day and figuring that out.

Q: Do you think this was handled with respect?

A: Yeah, I think everybody that I talked to—it was handled as good as you can handle it.

Q: What have been your follow-up conversations—have you talked to John Mara or anyone else?

A: Yes, I talked to John Mara yesterday, so everything’s been good and as positive as it can be.

Q: You knew this was a possibility, but did you ever think it would be a possibility after two games?

A: I didn’t know how everything was going to shake out this year. You just know when you draft a young quarterback, there’s a possibility that they’re going to play him if things don’t go well. We didn’t start fast, and that’s the situation we’re in now.

Q: Would you have wanted to come back here if you knew it was only going to be a two-game trial?

A: Yeah, I think you give it a shot, and I’ve worked hard, competed, did everything I thought I could, and it just didn’t work out.

Q: How important is it to you to be the mentor now to Daniel?

A: In some ways, that was kind of part of the deal. I’ve been trying to help him in every which way I could throughout the preseason and training camp and what not, so now I’ll still do that. I’ll support him, answer his questions if he has any, don’t get him thinking too much, but just give him information that I’ve learned over 15 years that I think he could use.

Q: The way it was presented to you, how much of the decision was performance related?

A: I don’t think we have to get into that. Whatever Coach (Shurmur) said, I’ll let him answer those questions.

Q: What is your message to the fans in terms of embracing a new starting quarterback?

A: Be great fans and support the team and whoever’s in there. Daniel will do a great job, he’s worked hard and he’ll handle the situation well.

Q: Was there any level of frustration knowing that you had so many injuries to your receiving corps and this was such a small sample?

A: There’s always disappointment, and not winning games, not winning those first two games, but you’ve just got to move on past that and handle the new situation and make the best of it.

Q: How do you describe your emotions yesterday when it went down?

A: Obviously disappointed, not happy about it, but you accept it and make the best of it.

Q: What kind of honor has it been to represent this organization as the starting quarterback for parts of 16 seasons?

A: Yeah, and I still want to represent them, and it’s not over, the season’s not over, we’ve got a lot of football. So, I’m just going to go do my part, do my job, get Daniel ready to play, be ready to play if called upon and support my teammates and get everybody ready.

Q: Is this the end of Eli Manning or just another phase?

A: Who knows? Again, I’m not dying and the season’s not over, so there’s a lot to be positive about, a lot to be grateful for, so I’ve just got to accept my new role and make the best of it.

Q: Do you definitely want to stay here? Any thought to waiving your no-trade clause?

A: Just taking this day by day, so just trying to figure out how to run a scout team—that was my number one objective of today, and I thought I did pretty well.

Q: How does this move impact the way you think about your future?

A: Again, I’ll get into futures later on. Right now, my future is I’m the second-string quarterback of the Giants and I’ve got to get myself ready to play and do whatever I’m called upon and feel I need to do to help out the rest of my teammates.

Q: Based on the conversations you had this offseason with Dave Gettleman, Pat Shurmur, and John Mara, do you feel that you were misled at all with the fact that you only got two weeks?

A: Again, I’m not going to go into all that. I think it’s just one of those deals where this is the situation and you deal with it, and that’s what I’m doing.

Q: (Inaudible)

A: You handle them the same way you handle wins, losses, all of them. I think the only thing you can control is your attitude and the decisions you make and the mindset you have going into it. I think that’s all I can control.

Q: Was it weird running the scout team?

A: Yeah, it’s a little different, but you go about it and try to make good decisions and use good footwork and don’t get into bad habits.

Q: From what you see of Daniel, do you see a level of ability and grasping the system that you believe he will be ready?

A: Yeah, I think so. He’s done a good job, he’s worked extremely hard, he has talent, and he a has a good mindset, so I think he’ll handle everything well and I think he’ll be ready.

Q: Is it hard for you to prepare for this game, in this role?

A: I think you’ve got to handle it. A lot of guys have been backups, and you’ve got to prepare. You might not get every rep, but I think when you have a lot of reps under your belt and have played against a lot of types of systems and know the system well, I’ll be ready. I think when you’re helping someone else get prepared, it prepares you in that sense.

Q: You said you understood the situation and knew this was a possibility when you decided to come back here—did knowing that at all make it any easier?

A: I think just being somewhat prepared knowing that it could happen at some point, you’re still disappointed, but I think you’ve got to handle it and you’ve got to put the team first and make sure you’re not being a distraction or causing something to impact the team negatively.

Q: This year, there’s been a tremendous upheaval in the quarterback position with Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees—a lot of guys in, a lot of guys out. Have you monitored that, and is that something where if somebody wants you--

A: Monitored in the sense that I respect those guys and like them and I’m blessed that I’m still healthy, but nothing besides that.

Q: What were the last couple days like for you—starting with the end of the game, and then on Monday when Pat Shurmur kind of created some uncertainty? Did you walk into Tuesday maybe expecting that possibility?

A: I get hit in the head a lot, I can’t think that far back (laughter). Just take it day by day. I remember most of today, I know what’s in the game plan—that’s what my focus is on.

Q: Did what happened two years ago help in the sense that it was something similar?

A: Yeah, I think just knowing it’s a possibility and going into the season knowing if we didn’t get off to a good start, didn’t play well, that this would happen. So, you don’t want it, you don’t plan for it or expect it, but I think you’ve just got to be prepared for it, and not be surprised by it—it helps you handle it a little bit easier.

QB Daniel Jones

Q: What was your reaction when you got the news you would be starting on Sunday?

A: I was excited. I think, certainly, I’m excited for the opportunity. Coach (Shurmur) called me up to his office and we had that conversation. Obviously it’s a unique circumstance, but I’m excited for the opportunity.

Q: Are you ready for the opportunity?

A: Yeah, I certainly feel good about how far I have come in my preparation and my progress since I got here in the spring, through camp and through these first couple weeks. We’ll try to make sure we have the best week we can, and I’ll certainly do all I can to be as prepared as possible. Yeah, I feel ready and I’m certainly looking forward to the opportunity.

Q: Being a starting quarterback entails a lot more than just calling the huddle and everything. Did you address the team? Did you talk to them and the offense at all today?

A: I didn’t, not as a group. I’ve certainly had a number of conversations. I think, like I said, our job is to focus on Tampa Bay to make sure we are as prepared as possible.

Q: What has it been like talking to Eli since the change happened?

A: Yesterday, when Coach Shurmur told me, and obviously Eli as well, we had a conversation. As you all would expect, as anyone who knows Eli would expect, he was nothing but supportive of me. Obviously, I understand the circumstance and it’s a difficult one. But he’s very supportive of me and I can’t say enough about who he is as a person, as a teammate, and he’s been that way since I’ve gotten here. We had that conversation and then we went about our Tuesday preparing and watching film like we have the first two weeks. I’m certainly very grateful and appreciative of his support since I’ve gotten here.

Q: Just to clarify, you had a conversation with Eli and Coach? Or separately with Coach and then he had a separate conversation with Eli?

A: Separately. They were all separate.

Q: When did you assume you’d play?

A: You never really know when something like this is going to happen. My job is to be ready and to continue to improve. I feel like I have been able to do that. Like I said, you don’t know when something like this is going to happen. I can’t control that. I was just trying to be prepared, and I will continue to prepare the same way this week.

Q: Did Eli offer you any advice?

A: Through the week, and his help through the preparation, is certainly very valuable to me. In terms of general advice, I think his support and his confidence in me gives me the confidence (that I need).

Q: What tells you that you will be ready?

A: I haven’t played a regular season game, and I’m certainly aware of that. All I can do is prepare as hard as I possibly can, and that’s what I’ll do. I think I’ve gotten some sense of that in the preseason and certainly it will be elevated during the regular season. All I can do this week is make sure I’m prepared, the team is prepared, and I do all I possibly can.

Q: The responsibility of being the starting quarterback for the New York Giants— do you look at that in anyway as somewhat daunting? Or do you feel you’re ready to embrace it?

A: I feel like I’m ready to embrace it. I think focusing on what we’re doing here, focusing on what we’re doing in the building and our preparation with my teammates, with my coaches. Narrowing that focus to being here in the moment in this week, I think, is important with that. I feel like I can embrace that, and I am looking forward to the opportunity.

Q: Part of the reason the Giants drafted you is because they thought you could handle this moment, and the pressure that comes with playing, failing, trying to bounce back, in the New York market with a restless fanbase. As you observed that from the sideline the past couple of games, and how it goes in this market, what do you make of it and how do you feel like you’re going to be able to handle the ups and downs?

A: I think a similar approach to Bruce’s question— just focusing on what we’re doing, focusing on football, on our preparation, on our weekly plan. (Being) here in the building with my teammates, my coaches, everybody in the building part of this organization, I think is what will be key to my success with that. I understand the responsibility, I understand the challenge, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.

Q: All rookie quarterbacks have to start somewhere. You’re starting with Eli Manning in the locker next to you. You know what that means about replacing him. Is it a line you have to tread? You should be thrilled for yourself and your preparation and getting ready to start. Then you have Eli, who was just benched after 16 years. Is that a juggling act for you a little bit?
A: Since I’ve gotten here, Eli has been nothing but helpful and welcoming to me. Obviously, now the roles are different. There will be some differences there. But largely, our relationship and how we communicate will be the same. He’s done it for a long time at a really high level, so there is certainly a ton I can continue to learn from him and will. I think that’s a tremendous opportunity for me.

Q: You haven’t had a whole lot of snaps with the first team offense since the season started. A couple of your teammates said the way they can help you is to make sure the communication is sharp. How do you expedite that today and up until your first snap, to get that as perfect as possible?
A: It starts in the meeting room. Before we get out on the practice field, knowing what we need to do. Knowing what to expect from them and them knowing what to expect from me. Communication is certainly key for that.

Q: Your skillset is obviously different than Eli’s. We’ve talked about your ability to run and the way you throw the deep ball. How different do you expect the offense to look? How much would you like to make it conducive to what your skills are?
A: I’m not sure the offense will change substantially. I think it’ll be what we do, it’ll be what we’ve (practiced) since the spring and what we’re used to. I don’t see it changing a whole lot. We’ve got a good system. We’ve got good players who are used to the system. I think it’ll stay pretty consistent.

Q: You watched two games that were losses that weren’t all about quarterback play. Entering the lineup now, where do you think you can help this team?
A: Through the first two weeks, like you said, there have been a number of issues. As a team, we all have to perform better. I think everyone’s on the same page there. My job is to come in and be prepared and know exactly what we need to do and execute that. Like I said, we have good players and good spots. My job is to execute the offense, to get the ball where it needs to go on time and accurately. I don’t think my role changes in that sense. Just to execute.

Q: What is your confidence level right now, and what would you say to Giants fans about what they can expect when they see you for the first time in a regular season game?
A: I’m confident. Like I said, I feel good about my progress to this point. I certainly understand there will be a lot to learn, and I look forward to that. To Giants fans, just know that I’ll compete as hard as I possibly can, prepare as hard as I possibly can, and when I’m out there, I’ll play as hard as I can and do what I can to help this team win games.

Q: When you came here, you talked about earning the respect of your teammates. You understood what you were coming here for. The fact that it sounds like you did earn that respect from your locker room, did it make yesterday’s news and today walking out on the practice field feel any different? The idea that you don’t have to earn the respect of these guys, that they already see you as someone who can take over this role?
A: I think so. As a rookie, you’re always trying to earn respect. I think that’s a continuing process. Understanding that there is still a lot that I have to learn and that there is a lot that I need to work on, but that I’m excited to do it and I’m going to do everything I can to do it. Earning respect and proving to the vets, the guys that have been here a long time, that you’re willing to do that is important and will stay important.

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LT Nate Solder

Q: How did you react initially (to the change at quarterback)?

A: You know what, I just count my blessings. We all have a short time here. We all have an opportunity to play this game and for this wonderful organization. I’m just thankful for my position here. We have a lot of football ahead of us. I focus on the things that we need to keep working on.

Q: How do you think Eli (Manning) has handled himself thus far?
A: Like he always does. He’s an absolute pro. I’m so thankful to get the opportunity to be with him and see how he goes about his business.

Q: Are you encouraged by what Daniel Jones brings to the table?
A: I’m excited. I’m encouraged. We have a great group in this locker room. There are a lot of things to be happy about.

Q: Has this change affected the locker room at all?
A: Not that I’ve noticed, but I think that we have a lot to worry about. We have a great team with Tampa coming up, and we need to be prepared for that. We have to focus on the things that we need to do to win that game.

Q: Is there anything special you guys can do to help the first game for Daniel Jones become an easier task for him?
A: It’s not an easy task, and I think it’s going to take all of us. It’s never one guy. It’s always a group effort. It’s always all three phases of the game. It’s all working together. That’s how you help a guy out like that. We take that very seriously protecting him and running the ball and all of the things that we need to do to be successful as an offense.

Q: Does he show you that he’s the type of guy who can handle the responsibility of being the quarterback for the New York Giants in your mind?
A: Oh man, I love Daniel. I think he’s doing an excellent job. He’s taking one day at a time. He’s working hard. Like I said, it takes 11 guys. It’s not just one.

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