Even now, Winston looks up to Eli Manning

by Gary Shelton on September 29, 2017 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Friday, 4 a.m.

The closer you get to Eli Manning's house, the less popular he becomes.

For those who do not view Manning regularly, he is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, a symbol of excellence. He is a four-time Pro Bowler, the kid brother in the NFL's family act at quarterback. He is admirable, efficient if not glitzy.

Ah, but in the Big Apple, it has become trendy to roll your eyes in the general direction of Eli. He is average, you can here. He is pedestrian. “Profoundly mediocre,” in the words of the website 538.com. Forbes calls him “an average quarterback with two Super Bowl rings.” The Washington Post asks “What's wrong with the Giants offense,” and then decides it's Manning.

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“As much as it pains me to say this, Eli cannot do it anymore,” said longtime teammate Tiki Barber. “I don't mean that as a knock to Eli. I mean this as a knock to all of these inferior players around him. He can't make them great.”

Around here, of course, Manning remains admired. When a quarterback wins two upsets (both over the Patriots) in the Super Bowl, he stays that way.

“One of the greatest quarterback experiences of my life is getting the privilege to go to the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux,” said Bucs' quarterback Jameis Winston. Getting a chance to meet the head, Archie, Peyton, Eli and you just think about their family and what their family has meant to the quarterback position in the NFL. [I have] tremendous respect for Eli. When I got picked to go to the Pro Bowl, I got a chance to see him work out there and see the way he carries himself. Seeing him around his family, man, it was amazing. I got a chance to witness him walking up on stage winning the Walter Peyton ‘Man of the Year’ award last year at the NFL Honors. Every time you talk about Eli, something good is coming up. I look up to him, especially to his whole family. The guy is amazing. He wins Super Bowls, he leads his team and he is a Manning. He was born to do it.

“Every successful quarterback I try to take something from their game and add it to mine. He’s definitely a quarterback that I do look up to because he won two Super Bowls and he is a great QB. I think that’s just a growing process for me and it’s something that is consistently reminding me that, ‘Jameis, you cannot stop getting better. You’ve got to continue to improve.’ You look at the game that we did have – we were 70 percent completion and we lost. That hurt. You have an effective day in the air and you lose because of three turnovers and they were all results of me. It’s just something that sits in the back of my mind and eats me alive. At practice if I throw a pick, I get mad. I get frustrated. But, it’s just something that is that constant motivation that, ‘Hey, you’ve got to get better every day. You’ve got to get better.’ Like I said, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Obviously, I’ve got to get better quickly or there [are] some consequences I might have to face. For this team’s sake, I’ve just got to do a better job of giving us a chance to win.”

Of course, Winston has faced criticism for throwing 15 interceptions or more in his first two seasons. But Manning has thrown at least 14 picks in 11 different seasons. He's had more than 20 in three different years, including 27 in 2013.

Winston has had a lot of interceptions early in his seasons.

“I don’t know why,” said offensive coordinator Todd Monken. “Last year in Atlanta he threw an interception and I think we had one and that was a busted route. It wasn’t really his fault. We had a couple things in Arizona a year ago, where there was a tipped ball on a screen. One of the last plays of the game (in Minnesota last week), probably the most dangerous pass he had wasn’t intercepted – it was to Cameron Brate when he was under duress. We talked about that the week before. How do you eliminate those things? Being able to run the football and protecting your quarterback so that he’s not under duress. One was an underthrown ball. I think it was a great decision, (he) just underthrew it – that happens.

“Sometimes we go up and the ball ends up on the ground, it’s not picked. We had another one where we were running a crossing route and DeSean (Jackson) ends up running into the backside corner who was running across the formation. Some of it we’ve got to do a better job of and some of it we are just a hair off.

“I think things get slapped on players on both ends of that. I think that’s just human nature. I don’t think that’s anything to do with football. We do it in life. We just slap it, ‘He’s great. He’s terrible.’ We do it with every team in the league, ‘We can win the Super Bowl. No, we’re going to drop football. Tampa Bay is going to move.’ I mean what the heck? It’s just the sky is falling mentality. It’s a week-to-week league. I think we do that with a lot of things. We do it as coaches. We are in the same boat. What you’re looking for is consistency of performance across the board – that gives you the best chance to win. But, I think you’re right it does. You’re hopeful that someone becomes that and when things don’t go as well then – he can’t. I think that’s two extremes, but it is. It’s even more because we’re talking about it. That’s part of it.”

Winston said he wasn't worried about being called a “franchise quarterback.”

“I really just want to play football,” Winston said. “If someone says that I’m a franchise quarterback, then thank you. If they don’t, then as long as I still have the privilege to play in this league with the great teammates that I have now, I’m going to be fine. Like I said, I don’t really care about the tags. I don’t care about all that. I just care about helping my team be successful and winning football games.”

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