It was a down year for Eli Manning, and while the Giants still believe in him, don’t be surprised if they look for a quarterback in this year’s draft to groom as Eli’s eventual replacement. He’s 36 but likely has a few good years left. The Giants fixed the defense last season but now have to rebuild the offense around Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.
As with the rest of the Falcons, Manuel will enter the 2017 season with a bad taste in his mouth from the Super Bowl LI implosion in which Atlanta blew a 28-3 lead in a crushing, 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots. But at least Manuel knows he’ll have a talented group around him that in 2016 featured NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley Jr., emerging nose tackle Grady Jarrett, rookie standouts Deion Jones and Keanu Neal and Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant, who will return after missing the season’s second half following pectoral surgery.
The improved speed on defense, coupled with the presence of Trufant as a shutdown corner, will allow the Falcons to continue the trend of playing more man-to-man defense, as they did successfully later in the season.
Manuel’s ability to get the best out of his players was evident in the way cornerback Jalen Collins made a dramatic leap in his second season as a replacement for Trufant; in the way cornerback Robert Alford shook off problems with penalties to become a playmaker; in the way Brian Poole went from being undrafted to evolving into a reliable nickelback; and in the way Neal and Allen were able to work in unison at the safety spots.
Again, Manuel is all about an aggressive, attacking style. It’s in his nature as a former NFL strong safety. That’s the mentality and approach you see from him every day in practice. And that’s the look you’ll see in his eyes every game day.