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Eli Manning Flashes a Little Confidence

Manning ranks himself alongside the best quarterbacks in the game.

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Aug 17, 2011  |  Updated 10:28 AM EDT
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Eli wants to take the whole world in his hand.

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Regardless of your reaction to the Giants' moves in the last couple of weeks, you had to like the way G.M. Jerry Reese responded to his critics.

He stood up and guaranteed a trip to the playoffs, putting his own reputation on the line in defense of his decisions about the makeup of the roster this season. That kind of confidence can be contagious across a team, so it is a good thing to hear it coming from those at the top of the food chain.

It was a bit distressing, then, to hear Reese try to walk back his comments on Tuesday. During a radio interview with 1050 ESPN, he said it was merely a "vote of confidence," something normally associated with something going down in flames.

Let's hope Eli Manning doesn't take a page from Reese's handbook. The Giants quarterback also went on the radio Tuesday, but he took a different approach to a question about whether or not he is an elite quarterback on par with Tom Brady.

"I consider myself in that class," Manning said. "And Tom Brady is a great quarterback, he's a great player and what you've seen with him is he's gotten better every year. He started off winning championships and I think he's a better quarterback now than what he was, in all honesty, when he was winning those championships. I think now he's grown up and gotten better every year and that's what I'm trying to do. I kind of hope these next seven years of my quarterback days are my best."

That's an unusual amount of bravado from a player who has never displayed an overwhelming amount of self-confidence in his words or his actions. Manning has always been deferential in public and his body language is often that of a player who doesn't know whether his next pass will go for a touchdown or if it will knock the beer out of the hand of someone in the stands.

Manning might not be in Brady's class, but it is awfully good for the Giants that he considers himself to be that kind of player because he's going to need to play like an elite quarterback for the team to make good on whatever it is Reese was trying to say last week.

Great quarterbacks don't sweat things like the departures of Kevin Boss and Steve Smith because they are the reason why their offense succeeds, not the guys catching the ball. Eli can look at Brady for confirmation of that fact or he could just give big brother a call.

During Peyton Manning's run with the Colts, Indy has cycled dozens of receivers through the lineup and seen no dropoff in play from the guy under center. Guys get hurt or leave the team and Peyton simply throws the ball to Blair White and Jacob Tamme with the same results as he had when he was throwing to Marvin Harrison and Dallas Clark.

The Giants need Eli to be that kind of quarterback this season. Every move they made is totally defensible with a player like that leading the offense.

The fact that he believes he is in that class is the first step and, judging from the results against Carolina, the easiest one. If Manning takes the difficult ones, Reese might actually be willing to stand behind his words in the future.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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