Manning hopes to show Bucs that he still has it

by Gary Shelton on November 16, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

McCoy thinks Manning still has his edge./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 3 a.m.

In the Big Apple, a lot fans aren't so crazy about the little Manning these days.

Manning, who has won two Super Bowls, has dared to turn 37, and he represents a franchise that has struggled lately. The Giants have won just five games over the last two years, and so a lot of fans seem prepared to turn the page on Manning.

Still, Manning's quarterback rating is the highest it has been in four seasons, and his completion percentage is the highest it's ever been. He doesn't appear to be done yet.

"He’s in a completion percentage right now about as good as he’s ever been," said defensive coordinator Mark Duffner. "I think that this is a

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little bit of a new offense for him in terms of the scheme. I think he’s showing improvement in that. His play is reflective of the entire 11 guys on offense and so I think that they’re doing things to allow him to be as productive as you can based on their personnel and based on the scheme that they’re running right now. He is, again, a guy who still is playing at I think a very strong level. It’s a guy we’re going to certainly be at our best against as we defend him this week.”

Said former teammate Jason Pierre-Paul: “Eli is Eli, man. I know one thing — if he’s hot, he’s going to continue being hot. We’ve got to get after him early and he knows I’m coming. I’m coming, Eli, I’m coming. Just letting you know. “

Manning has help. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley has been impressive, and despite his theatrics, receiver Odell Beckham is a player.

But it is quarterbacks who have bedeviled the Bucs this year. Eight opponents have had a rating of 100 points or higher this year.

“Yeah he’s still got it," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "You see how he finished that game last week? Yeah, he’s still got it. I don’t care what people say. Eli’s going to the Hall of Fame. I think he is. I think he should be. Until he stops playing, he’s always going to be that guy. I think once you’ve got it, you’ve just got it and it can flash at any moment.

"We go up there thinking that he (doesn’t) have it — all I know is last time we went up there it didn’t go too good for us and he put up some big numbers. We have one of their guys now on our side. Last time we went up there he put on a show against us too, so I’m glad he’s on our side. Eli is Eli. They’ve got a whole slew up there. They’ve got a guy that plays for them that went to the best school in the country – I don’t know who that guy is. Arguably the best receiver in the game, arguably the best young running back in football. We’ve just got a really good offense and if they get on fire it’s going to be hard to stop.”

The Giants thought that Barkley would key a turnaround. He's been good, but the losing has continued.

“Really, really impressive," Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter said of Barkley. "For a guy that’s 235 pounds, his combination of speed, elusiveness, ball skills, yards after contact — very impressive. You can see — we did a lot of work on him coming out and of course liked him, but he’s come right into the league and really shown what he can do.

“You’ve got to kind of take all game-wreckers — you’ve got the Drew Breeses of the world that are touching the ball every play, but as a running back he’s right up there.”

The Bucs once again will go with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

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