EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Eli Manning is finding his comfort zone in the New York Giants’ new West Coast offence.
After a couple off iffy performances, the 11-year veteran hit 75 per cent of his passes (21 of 28), threw two touchdowns and did not turn the ball over in a 30-17 win over Houston on Sunday. His quarterback rating was a whopping 123.2.
Manning had help. His line protected him and opened holes for Rashad Jennings to rush for a career-high 176 yards. His receivers also made big plays.
Manning knew it would just be a matter of time before he got on the same page with the rest of the offence.
“It’s coming around,” Manning said Tuesday after the Giants (1-2) practiced for Thursday night’s game against the Redskins (1-2). “You need some live games. Practice is one thing. Live games are different. It’s a different speed, a different pace. It’s seeing things. That’s where you get your best reps and a better feel for things.”
Offensive co-ordinator Ben McAdoo felt the offence made progress Sunday, gaining 419 yards while holding the ball for more than 32 minutes.
The most noticeable changes are the quickness in which the Giants are getting to the line of scrimmage and Manning’s comfort in calling the plays and having the time to make the right read.
In the opening two losses, he seemed frustrated. He didn’t have enough time to throw, and he and his receivers were just a tad off on their timing or their location.
A sprained ankle in the season finale against Washington forced Manning to miss some workouts in the off-season, but he been making progress since training camp opened.
“I think he’s grown each week. He’s done the types of things he has to do,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He controls the no-huddle very, very well. He’s communicated well with receivers and with the offensive line in terms of changing protections when necessary. He’s thrown the ball well. He’s throwing it in good rhythm. His feet have been good.”
Manning still has his moments that make people shake their heads. In the second quarter Sunday after New York got a first down at its own 39 on an 18-yard run by Jennings, the Giants went play action, and Manning looked deep down the middle for Rueben Randle . The Texans weren’t fooled and had double coverage. Manning threw the pass anyway and was lucky it was not intercepted.
It was a mistake that showed Manning, who had a career-high 27 interceptions last season, and the Giants still have a ways to go in making the new offence work.
Tight end Larry Donnell , who leads the team with 18 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown, said he sees Manning making the throws every day in practice.
“He’s got it,” he said. “It was just getting everyone on the same page and everybody being where he expected us to be — on time.”
Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka smiled when told that about two dozen quarterbacks have played for NFC East teams since Manning became the Giants’ starter midway through his rookie season in 2004.
“That’s a testament to his preparation and skill level,” Kiwanuka said. “He gets beat down a lot when we lose, but he should get praised equally as much when we win. He had a tremendous game. He came out, prepared in the face of everybody talking bad about him.”
NOTES: First-round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr . (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis for the first time in more than a month. He probably will not play Thursday. … S Quintin Demps played with the first unit Thursday. Stevie Brown started Sunday against Houston and was replaced for poor play by rookie Nat Berhe . Giants have not said who will start against Washington . … LB Jon Beason also practiced on a limited basis, but his status for Thursday is uncertain. He did not play Sunday.
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