Rich Eisen Interviews Warner....
Warner getting comfortable with Giants
Kurt Warner's career seemed to be in jeopardy after Marc Bulger excelled during the 2003 season for St. Louis. But the Giants came calling, and Warner is experiencing a revival. Warner spoke to NFL Total Access host Rich Eisen about the Giants' surprising start, his jelling with New York's offense and tutoring Eli Manning. NFL Total Access airs Monday through Saturday at 7 p.m. ET (aired Oct. 21, 2004).
Rich Eisen: Now let's fire up the New York Giants cam for the man right there under center. Kurt Warner, two-time MVP, joining us. How are you doing there, Kurt?
Warner: Doing great, Rich. How are you doing?
Eisen: I'm great. Before we get started, I got to check on my hometown of New York City to see how everybody's doing in the wake of the Yankee collapse. Is everybody OK there?
Warner: Well, I think there's a lot of people struggling today. It might have been a national holiday here in New York, trying to get over that one. Hopefully we will turn them on to Giants football instead.
Eisen: Well, I was going to say that, because now they can totally turn their mindset to New York football, not just even the Giants, where it's a 9-1 record; 4-1 for you guys, for the Giants. Would you say that even you are surprised at where you are coming out of this bye week?
Warner: Yeah, I would say a little bit. I think it would be hard to say that there was a lot of people around here that expected us to be at 4-1 going into the bye. With the games that we've had on the road, the teams that we've played, some of the things that happened in preseason -- yeah, I think everybody around here is excited about where we're at, and knowing that we can get a lot better. We can play a lot better. But to be sitting at 4-1 and to be able to find ways to win like we have up to this point, I think people around here are excited.
Eisen: Yeah, the four wins matches the entire season total from last year. Kurt, when would you say things clicked most, or began to click?
Warner: Well I think the whole preseason was a growing process for all of us. Learning the new system, getting familiar with the new coaches and how they wanted to go about doing things. So I think every week we have gotten a little bit better. I think we saw a lot of positive things in our first game against Philadelphia, even though we didn't win that game. I think a lot of positives came out of that. We were able to build on that every week and I think every week we have gotten better. I think the point is we haven't reached our full potential yet. We haven't played anywhere close to the way we can play. That's the exciting thing -- is that we are 4-1 but everybody in that locker room knows we can be so much better.
Eisen: Right. Jeremy Shockey has two of your three touchdown catches, basically, 22 catches for him. Though a lot was made a couple weeks ago about his role in this particular offense, are you still trying to get on the same page with him? You think?
Warner: Yeah, I'm trying to get on the same page with all the receivers. A little more than where we are at right now. Again, that's something that comes every week as we run the plays a little bit more, we get a little more familiar with how each other thinks, what each other sees, when we run a particular play. I don't think we are 100 percent comfortable with one another yet, or 100 percent comfortable within this offense yet. That's the stuff that we are working on every week. It's trying to get our timing down; being able to be at a point, myself, where I can anticipate throws. I know what those guys are going to do; I know how they are going to react when they see something. Those are the things that I am learning, I am trying to get accustomed to, and I think the receivers are as well, but its something that we are just going to have to continue to do, time and time again. Keep going over and over it, and Shockey especially, as he missed a lot of time in preseason, to get that feel for what this offense is all about and his role within it.
Eisen: And certainly it helps to have a running back like Tiki Barber, who prior to the bye led the league in rushing, Kurt. What are your thoughts on the development of this rushing game and the offensive line as a whole?
Warner: Yeah, I think the offensive line is doing a tremendous job. There was a lot of criticism in preseason as they were starting to mesh together and learn the system and some of the things that happened there. But I think they have really collectively come together and been a very solid unit for us. They've allowed us to both throw the football and run the football. We've been a very balanced football team. I think that's the key. Not one team can go out there and say, 'Well, if we stop this, then we can stop the Giants.' Up to this point, we've been balanced in every game. We've taken advantage of what the defense has given us. It all starts with the offensive line and the way they've meshed together and the way they've blocked in both the running and the passing game.
Eisen: We're seeing some statistics now while you were talking. You are now tied all time with Steve Young in terms of passer rating in the history of this game, Kurt. And right a couple behind you is Daunte Culpepper who's, as we said at the top of this segment, just seems to be locked in. What do you think when you see a quarterback like that, and what does a quarterback have to do to get into that zone?
Warner: Well, I think there is just times when you get to the point in your career where you are completely comfortable with your system; you are completely comfortable with what you have to do, how you have to play the game. And then I think you have to surround it with a lot of great players. When things were going well for me in St. Louis, it wasn't just me out there. I was surrounded by some tremendous players, and all playing together as a unit. That's what's happening in Minnesota right now with Daunte. He is playing at an extremely high level. The guys around him are stepping up their game. They've filled that roster with playmakers all around him and he's able to spread the ball around. Do what he needs to do and use his amazing talent to get the ball to those guys, and those guys are making plays for him.
Eisen: Now I know it's maybe now your nature to crow a little bit, and there is still a lot of time left in this season, Kurt, but a lot of people thought -- and I'll be honest -- thought that you were done. And you clearly have taken this team to heights after six weeks that nobody thought they could. What are your thoughts? Can you look back at this point and take stock in that, or no?
Warner: If you look at it from the perspective that people didn't think I could play, then yeah, I could put stock in the first five games and what I've been able to accomplish and those things, but I never had that. That was never in my thought process, that I couldn't play this game and that I couldn't perform at a high level. A lot of things transpired in St. Louis over the last couple years that, I think people formed opinions, that weren't necessarily understanding the whole situation, understanding everything that was going on. So automatically they thought, 'Well, he did so many great things in St. Louis, now all the sudden St. Louis doesn't want him, he must not be any good anymore.' I don't think that was the full case. I think there was a lot of things that transpired there that go beyond just me not being able to play the game. So getting a new opportunity, I felt I could perform at a high level. I felt I could still play this game; now I think a lot of people have realized that.
Eisen: Yeah, you clearly, absolutely. And you have certainly put to rest the whole matter of who should start -- you or Eli. In that vein, what is your relation with Eli? And what is he doing while you are out there starting for this team?
Warner: Our relationship is great. He is a great kid, and continues to work hard, learn, try to soak in as much as he possible can for when the opportunity arises; he's going to be in there leading the New York Giants. And right now he is just doing everything he possibly can. He's practicing hard, although most of his reps are with the scout team. He's in watching film. He's studying, he's preparing within this offense, learning this offense as much as you can on paper, so that when he does get on the field a lot of that learning has taken place and he can perform at a high level as he learns by playing. I don't think there is anything else he can do. Right now, it's tough because it's a waiting game for him. He's learning; he feels like he's ready. He wants to be out there and it's just a matter of time before that happens.
Eisen: Right, but despite your good relationship, you still got that question wrong on the NFL Newlywed Game commercial though, Kurt.
Warner: I know. He didn't help me out much there.
Eisen: No, he didn't.
Warner: What can you say about rookies, huh?
Eisen: That's right. Sometimes they just got to learn. I hear you, Kurt, but congrats on the good start. It's on against the Detroit Lions this week.
Re: Rich Eisen Interviews Warner....
Yo , I can always count on you to feel the love for Warner. Sure miss that guy! :tough:
Re: Rich Eisen Interviews Warner....
I hear ya, dude.
Yo , I can always count on you to feel the love for Warner. Sure miss that guy!
Re: Rich Eisen Interviews Warner....
I hope Manning knows how good he's got it. He could do a lot worse than learning at the feet of a 2-time MVP who has already said he knows the future is in Manning. Kurt better be on your Christmas list, Eli.