Can Eli Manning Help the New York Giants Defense Prepare Against Peyton Manning?

Patricia TrainaFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 12, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 08:  Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants reacts in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half on September 8, 2013 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

When two brothers grow up as close as Peyton and Eli Manning did as youths in New Orleans, La., there are almost bound to be some similarities between the two as they mature 

Those similarities tend to be even more noticeable when the two brothers just happen to go into the same line of business, as the manning brother did.

There are a lot of commonalities,” said New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin of Eli, who quarterbacks the Giants, and Peyton, who quarterbacks the Denver Broncos, Giants’ upcoming opponent. 

“They’re two different individuals, no question about that, both extremely admirable but there’s a common ground and there are differences as well.

The Giants have been hard at work trying to figure out what differences they might expect on Sunday in the game that’s been dubbed the Manning Bowl III even though both brothers won’t be on the field at the same time squaring off against each other.

As they have prepared this week for Peyton and his highly potent Broncos offense, members of the Giants defense acknowledge that there are definitely similar traits between the two brothers.

I think they’re both dangerous quarterbacks and can make every throw,” said safety Antrel Rolle. “They’re competitive and both students of the game and I think that’s where the similarities are the most evident.”

“I think they’re both very cerebral and they both see the field unlike a lot of quarterbacks,” added defensive end Justin Tuck. “They know how to get the offense in the right place and they know when they are in the right place. I think that’s the similarities they both possess.” 

Generalities aside, members of the Giants defense say that there is absolutely no advantage that Eli can offer when it comes to trying to anticipate what his brother might have in store for them on Sunday.

“None at all,” said Rolle. “I trust my eyes and what I see on film. There’s nothing that Eli can tell me that I can’t see watching film on my own. I wouldn’t even want to (pick Eli’s brain) because I trust my study more than any tips I could get.”

Coughlin agrees. “I don’t know if it’s an advantage. We certainly do, and have, watched, over the years, Peyton play his position and play it extremely well.”

Safety Ryan Mundy echoed the sentiments of his teammates and head coach, suggesting that perhaps backup quarterback Curtis Painter, who was Peyton Manning’s backup in Indianapolis for three seasons (2009-2011), might be a better source for insight.

But, he added, “I think you’ve just got to study film and let the film talk to you. What you see on the film is what you’re going to get on Sunday.”

Painter, who has played the role of Peyton Manning on the Giants’ scout team this week in practice, agreed.

“It’s a completely different team and they have some different weapons than what Indy had, so they’ve got probably change it up a little bit,” he pointed out.

Painter laughed when asked if he could at least simulate all the hand signals and gestures that Peyton Manning has been known to show when he comes to the line of scrimmage.

“If I knew everything he was doing, maybe I could,” he said. “At this point, the best way I can help the defense is to give them the best look I can, and be sharp and on point and make my reads as I can.”

With no significant inside information to go on the number one thing for the Giants defense to fall back on is not just their film study, but paying attention to their assignments, taking care to ensure that the execution is crisp and sharp, and that they stay within their game plan.

“Peyton’s going to look at us and see that we struggled with against Dallas, and he’ll put things in to his offense to see if we fixed it,” said Tuck. “He knows how to fit in little things and tricks into the scheme, and makes sure that you’ve done your due diligence to correct the mistakes you had in the games prior.

“You look at the last time when we played him when he was with the Colts. We went in thinking he was going to lean on the pass, and thought we had the personnel to pin their ears back, and they just ran the ball the whole time. So you have to understand that he takes what the defense is trying to do, and uses those weakness against you.”

Then there is also the mindset of not being intimidated by Manning or, worse yet, becoming paralyzed in trying to analyze all of the “what if?” scenarios that could develop.

“I think it’s a mindset, period, with football,” said defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. “The physical aspect definitely contributes, but it’s a mindset period. Sometimes you can do some things that will help you from a coverage standpoint and a scheme standpoint. When you play a guy like Peyton, I think he’s seen everything that’s known to man, so the mindset really does take over, especially against a guy like him.”

Regardless of the view, Peyton Manning is a challenge that certainly won’t be easy for the Giants defense, whose members have nothing but respect for the future Hall of Fame quarterback. However in order to be the best, the feeling in the locker room is that you have to excel against the best, and that’s precisely what the Giants defense is looking forward to on Sunday.

“I love it! I love the opportunity!” said Rolle, barely containing his excitement. “I love going up against the best of the best and we all know what Peyton brings to the table.

“You’re not going to find a quarterback that understands defenses more than Peyton. He understands formations, he understands coverage--he understands it all.

“There’s not going to be much you can throw at him to really throw him off and confuse him but it’s not going to stop us from trying and, more importantly, we just have to be on top of our game."

Patricia Traina is the Senior Editor for Inside Football. All quotes obtained firsthand.