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Ex-Giants QB Simms thinks Manning will thrive in Big Blue's new offense

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) is adjusting to a new offensive system after a decade under Kevin Gilbride's play calling. CBS Sports analyst Phil Simms believes Manning will have a bounce-back campaign.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) is adjusting to a new offensive system after a decade under Kevin Gilbride's play calling. CBS Sports analyst Phil Simms believes Manning will have a bounce-back campaign.
Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

While the New York Football Giants have a long and storied history in the NFL, the team is not known for its consistent quarterback play. Yes, the franchise did have Hall of Famers Y.A. Tittle and Fran Tarkenton, but those players were more recognized for their efforts with other NFL teams. In reality, if you are looking for quarterbacks associated specifically with the G-men, the list begins with Phil Simms and ends with Eli Manning.

So when the former Giants' great, Simms, now the lead NFL analyst with CBS Sports, says something related to his former team, it would be wise to listen. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post caught up with Simms, who predicted the change from offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to Ben McAdoo will breathe new life into Eli Manning's career.

Schwartz quoted Simms as being very positive about learning a new offensive system at Manning's age (33), “Is it a drastic change and all that stuff? Yeah, maybe in the philosophy it could be. I know Green Bay’s offense, I’ve watched it a lot over the last years and talk a lot about it. Of course Eli’s gonna adjust to it. Is it a big adjustment? In my eyes, no it’s not. He’s a pro, he’s won the Super Bowl twice, if you tell him to run on his feet, he does it, if you tell him OK, now we’re gonna start running on our hands, he goes, ‘OK, I can do that too.’ Will there be timing issues and grave mistakes because of it? There might be some mistakes … but I just can’t imagine it’s gonna be that hard.’’

Simms went through a similar metamorphosis in his final season with the G-men in 1993, when Dan Reeves took over for an overwhelmed Ray Handley as head coach. The veteran Giants' signal caller, who was 38 at the time, responded with one of his best seasons. The Giants went 11-5, and Simms completed almost 62 percent of his passes, the highest percentage of his career.

The similarities between Simms' and Manning's professional careers are stark. Both were first round draft picks that came to the Big Apple under enormous pressure. While Manning was the number one overall pick, the Simms selection was rounded boo'd by Giants fans when announced by a smirking NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle in 1979.

Both Manning and Simms have two Super Bowl titles to their credit, and the pair have three Super Bowl MVP awards with their names engraved on them as well. In addition, to sharing the euphoria of the highest of highs, the two signal callers share the commonality of throwing more than 20 interceptions in a season. Simms did it twice in the mid-1980s, while Manning has done it three times (2007, 2010, 2013).

Both Manning and Simms are students of the game, with the only physical difference separating the two is Manning's ability to throw the deep ball better than the Morehead State product. In addition, Simms was more of a fiery leader, having once gotten into the fact of San Francisco 49ers' safety Ronnie Lotts' face after a close loss at Candlestick Park. But both field generals stand head and shoulders above anyone else who played the same position for team in its long history. In that respect, Manning's destiny could completely mirror his older counterpart. Only time will tell.

"If I didn’t see some difference in him physically, I would be surprised,’’ Simms said. “If you were a Giants fan, you should be disappointed. It should look different, and rightly so. They can have the exact same plays they’ve run in the past but a different voice, a different person, a different personality in relating that message to him and everything is going to change what we see on the field. It can be a little faster, quicker, who knows? I’m anxious to see too. To tell you the truth, I’m a little curious myself."


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