Everyone above the age of, oh, around 28 or so, knows exactly what Eli Manning is talking about, in one way or another.
“When you get older, yeah, things change,’’ Manning told The Post this week.
Yeah, things … change.
Manning, though, is an anomaly in that he does not look much different or play much differently than he did five or 10 years ago. In fact, he appears leaner and fitter at 36 than he did at 26, and he certainly looked fine at 26.
Still, he is at an advanced age in NFL circles, set to enter his 14th season with the Giants, never having missed a game in his career. His streak of 199 consecutive regular-season starts is tops among all active players, and, if all goes according to plan, he will catch then pass big brother Peyton (208 straight starts) just past midseason. Brett Favre holds the NFL record with a remarkable 297 consecutive starts.
Such durability is part luck, but good fortune only goes so far. Manning does not go about his business the same nowadays as he did when he first entered the league in 2004.
“Your workouts, your understanding of the importance of every workout, your diet, all those things add up,’’ Manning said. “It just takes longer to recover, the recovery process, the scheduling of your week, of your month, of when you’re going to get everything done, how you’re gonna maintain your body and your workouts, because you understand the importance of them and staying healthy.’’
Three years ago, the arrival of Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator shook Manning’s quarterback world. For the first time while playing for the Giants, Manning had a new system to learn. The tenants of McAdoo’s West Coast offense forced Manning to incorporate a foreign skill set, and he had to change his footwork.
After a brief period filled with growing pains, Manning looked lighter on his feet under McAdoo than he did at any time in his career.
“I feel good,’’ Manning said. “I’m moving just as good as I ever had. I don’t have anything nagging. Some years you have something nagging for whatever reason it kind of comes around. Right now I feel really great, I feel like I do sprint out, roll out of the pocket, move out of the pocket, my drops are smooth and efficient. I feel as good as I ever felt.’’
Current offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan described Manning this spring as “the consummate professional’’ and lauded his work ethic.
“He’s going to go about his business trying to improve and trying to still take that approach he’s had all the years I’ve known him,’’ Sullivan said. “And that is not a No. 1 pick or two-time Super Bowl MVP, but more of an undrafted free agent.’’
Eli ManningAnthony J. Causi
Manning is coming off a season in which his quarterback rating (86.0) was his lowest since 2013. He is fighting against Father Time, but he insists he is as physically capable today as he was years ago.
“Like my 40 time, that kind of stuff?” Manning asked. “I’d say so. My agility drills might be a little different, if I were to do a five-cone drill, I haven’t done those things in a while. But I think if you looked at like my GPS during a practice or my arm strength, if you measured it, how far I can throw it or how hard I can throw it, I think everything will be pretty similar.’’
As a pocket passer, Manning does not rely on his legs, so if he did lose a step it would not short-circuit his performance.
“I think you still got to move out of the pocket, still got to move around, still got to be quick and fast-twitch,’’ he said. “I think that’s kind of what you lose, just that fast-twitch of movements, so you got to keep working on those things and work on moving fast.’’