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  • 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.
    Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster

  • #2
    Re: Rich Eisen Interviews Warner....

    Yo , I can always count on you to feel the love for Warner. Sure miss that guy! :tough:


    • #3
      Re: Rich Eisen Interviews Warner....

      Yo , I can always count on you to feel the love for Warner. Sure miss that guy!
      I hear ya, dude.
      Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster


      • #4
        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.
        The more things change, the more they stay the same.


        Related Topics


        • Nick
          Just when we start to praise Kurt for a good start to the season...
          by Nick

          November 8, 2004 --

          IT is time to get Eli Manning up in the bullpen. Get him ready, Tom Coughlin. The bloom came off Kurt Warner's rose yesterday.

          Warner (two fumbles, two interceptions, seven sacks) gave the 5-3 Giants, disgraceful 28-21 losers to the Bears, absolutely no chance to win. You can round up plenty of suspects, and Coughlin will, but the most ominous development was Warner looking very much like the quarterback chased out of St. Louis by Mike Martz.

          It was Warner who was chewed up by the teeth of Lovie Smith's carnivorous blitz and left wounded by a bloody Bear trap. The Eagles are three weeks away and if Warner staggers around the lot like some punch-drunk club fighter next Sunday in Arizona, Coughlin should not be afraid to give The Kid his NFL baptism under fire.

          After what he witnessed yesterday, after what we have seen in Pittsburgh from wunderkind Ben Roethlisberger, the temptation soon may become irresistible to get on with The Greening of Eli.

          Because of Manning's unique pedigree, the only thing Coughlin has to fear is fear itself. If Warner doesn't quickly find the magic wand he brought with him over the first month of the season, there would be no better way to give his team a spark. For all the talk about Komeback Kurt, remember that he has thrown only five TD passes for the season.

          Coughlin admitted he considered yanking Warner in the second half, but opted to give Komeback Kurt a chance to redeem himself. But with 1:56 left, from his own 40 following an onsides kick recovery, Warner was sacked on successive plays and a fourth-and-20 prayer for Jeremy Shockey had no chance.

          Coughlin, too smart to leave Warner twisting in the wind and ignite a tabloid feeding frenzy, made it clear that Warner will start next week. But he'd be wise to start giving Manning reps with the first team immediately.

          The word from Eager Eli: I'm ready.

          "I get more comfortable every week," Eager Eli said. "If I were to get in there, I could run the offense."

          What makes you think you're ready?

          "Just being mentally prepared. That's the only thing I have to base it on."

          No one, however, knows better than Eager Eli son of Archie, brother of Peyton that it would be anathema were he to lobby for the ball.

          So meet Diplomatic Eli.

          "Right now he puts the team in the best position to win. You gotta stick with your guy."

          And: "He's a veteran and been around and has won a lot of games. That's football. You can't win every game, you can't play perfect every game."

          And: "You never want to create a controversy or a problem between your teammates and especially another quarterback. You gotta...
          -11-08-2004, 01:12 PM
        • Yodude
          Insider: Warner earns vindication, another turn on top
          by Yodude
          Oct. 13, 2004
          By Pete Prisco
 Senior Writer
          Tell Pete your opinion!

          Insider | Notebook | Mailbag
          New York Giants quarterback Kurt Warner is on a cell phone, driving somewhere in New Jersey, talking about his new team and his new situation. As he speaks, he sounds more upbeat than he has in years, which is saying something because this is one happy dude.

          "I'm loving it here," Warner said.

          Showing vintage form so far, Kurt Warner is proving just how little his critics know.
          Why wouldn't he? This was a man who was written off the past year, many speculating that his time at the top had come and gone. They said his 15 minutes of fame were over.

          That feel-good story of grocery stock boy to league MVP was nice at the time, but as quick as he rose to the top, it was sure to be followed by talk that he would fall just as fast.

          Washed up. Over. Done. Finished.

          Warner heard it all the past couple of seasons, the talk growing from murmurs into a full-blown amplified beat by late last season in St. Louis. Forget his two MVP awards he won with the Rams. Forget his Super Bowl victory after the 1999 season. Forget all the passing numbers.

          The doubters, including the St. Louis Rams coaches, insisted his time was up.

          "I guess it's unprecedented what happened to me," Warner said. "To go from where I was to the last two years, it's hard to make sense of it. People formed an opinion on what was wrong with me and they all seemed to jump on the bandwagon. It was easy to come to the conclusion that I wasn't the same player based on the past couple of years. But I never put a lot of stock in what people were saying. I knew what I was capable of doing. The bottom line for me has not been what people think about me, but what the people in my locker room and in the organization think about me. I knew I could still play and still win."

          He's doing both, too.

          The Giants are the surprise team of the first five weeks, winning four consecutive games after losing their opener to the Eagles. At 4-1, heading into their bye week Sunday, they are a half game behind Philadelphia in the NFC East.

          Warner is big reason for the success.

          So much for his just keeping the seat warm until rookie first-round pick Eli Manning takes over. Warner isn't going anywhere. Not the way he's playing. There had been some talk that Warner would keep the spot until the bye week, and then hand the keys to the car over to the younger kid. That's laughable now.

          Warner may not be putting up the huge numbers he did with the Rams from 1999-2001, but he is running the offense with precision, he's taking care of the ball and he's getting it out on time.

          -10-17-2004, 09:21 AM
        • Yodude
          Why Coughlin Picked Warner....
          by Yodude
          Horrible game with Rams opened door for Warner to sign with Giants
          Friday, October 22, 2004
          By Tom Kowalski

          ALLEN PARK -- Kurt Warner has won a Super Bowl, a couple of NFL Most Valuable Player awards and has set all kinds of passing records, but he's currently the New York Giants quarterback because head coach Tom Coughlin was impressed with one of Warner's worst-ever games.

          In last year's season opener, when he was quarterbacking the St. Louis Rams, Warner had a horrific game against the Giants. He was sacked six times, fumbled six times (losing three) and was intercepted once in New York's 23-13 win against the Rams.

          Coughlin, who became the Giants head coach this year, remembered that performance (after watching game films) when he was deciding whether to sign Warner as a free agent in the off-season.

          "I looked hard at the game," said Coughlin, whose 4-1 Giants host the 3-2 Detroit Lions Sunday at Giants Stadium. "He had the turnovers, no question, but he also performed with outstanding toughness even well into the fourth quarter, despite the statistics, the turnovers and all of those things. He was battling and competing and had a high percentage completion rate even deep into the fourth quarter."

          Coughlin, who is a hard-nosed throwback coach, wanted a competitor and that's what he got in Warner, who only wanted an opportunity to play. After his glory years in St. Louis, Warner stumbled hard with the Rams and it appeared his career might be over.

          "I never had the doubt, from a personal standpoint, about my skills and that I could play at that level," Warner said. "I had some doubt about whether I'd get a legitimate chance to do it. That's where the doubts were. I always felt that if I ever got that opportunity, I could play this game as well as I've ever played it."

          That's why Warner didn't want to sign with the Lions as a backup to Joey Harrington.

          "It was kicked around and talked about a little bit but, obviously, they have a young quarterback who they've put some stock in and given him the opportunities to continue to progress," Warner said. "It wasn't the most conducive situation to what I was looking for, but I definitely considered it.

          "(Lions) Coach (Steve) Mariucci is an old friend of mine and I really love the guy. That would've been a great fit, other than the standpoint that they have Joey there and he has so much talent and he's proven that's the right direction to go."

          After a close training camp battle between Warner and first-round draft pick Eli Manning, the Giants decided they wanted to go with the veteran. Warner has responded with solid performances, completing 65 percent of his passes and throwing just one interception in five games. However, Warner -- and his three touchdown passes -- is...
          -10-22-2004, 05:57 PM
        • RamWraith
          Someone see's it as Kurt struggling
          by RamWraith
          TRANSITION NOT EASY FOR KURT By PAUL SCHWARTZ New York Post June 8, 2004 -- (edited)

          The first grumbles came a few days ago, when Kurt Warner shook his head and began beating himself up over a bad throw here, a poor read there. Last Thursday, Warner was on the field for the first time with the Giants and he came away unimpressed with his showing.

          "I went home this weekend and a couple of incomplete passes last week in practice and my wife heard about it all weekend," Warner said. "You build that mentality where you want to be perfect, you want to complete every pass.

          "When it doesn't happen, it is frustrating. I expect myself to make the passes I should make and make the decisions I should make, whether it's my second day or I'm here for four years."

          Yesterday marked another baby step for Warner and ... it was rookie Eli Manning during minicamp who appeared far more self-assured. Warner was more tentative, mixing in some well-thrown balls with some wobblers that made it clear he was thinking more than reacting.

          "I need to get better," Warner said. "Little by little, I'm feeling more comfortable. I'm seeing the field a little bit but it's early on, with things like the cadence, it's hard, it's a transition. I'm thinking about the cadence actually rather than thinking about what's going on downfield."

          ... The terminology Warner knew as second-nature in his six years with the Rams is now totally new, as are the reads and keys in Tom Coughlin's offense compared with the Greatest Show on Turf attack schemed by Mike Martz.

          "Something I would have read a certain way in St. Louis we may read exactly the opposite here; you just have to get a feel and understanding of why the coaches want to do it that way," Warner said. "That's an adjustment, too."

          Coughlin described Warner as "tireless in his efforts to learn the system."

          As Warner looks to claim the starting job, Manning has settled in, offering glimpses of why the Giants were obsessed with making him their franchise quarterback of the future.

          "Every day I feel more comfortable calling the plays and visualizing everything and just knowing what everybody's doing, not thinking about everything," Manning said.

          "Every day (Eli's) gotten better," added running back Tiki Barber. "The first day he looked like he couldn't play high school, the second day he started to figure it out, he was more comfortable calling the plays and as the weeks have gone on you can see he's confident, and when he's confident he throws a great ball, he knows exactly what he's doing."
          -06-08-2004, 10:10 AM
        • Nick
          Warner wows his receivers
          by Nick
          Warner wows his receivers
          Accurate with passes


          ALBANY - When the ball comes out of Kurt Warner's hand, more often than not it wobbles. It's not a bad throw by any measure of an NFL quarterback, and it's obviously worked for him in the past.

          It just seems to pale in comparison to the perfect spiral rookie Eli Manning throws time after time.

          But the beauty of Warner's arm and his wobbly passes are in the eyes of his receivers. And so far Warner's new teammates on the Giants love what they see.

          "It doesn't matter what his passes look like because the stat sheet doesn't show the aesthetics of a pass," said running back Tiki Barber. "He's smart. He knows how to throw the ball where it needs to be."

          That's what Warner always did best in St. Louis, where he threw for 14,447 yards and 102 touchdowns in a mostly remarkable six seasons. And by all accounts that's what he's done in his first week of training camp with the Giants as well. Warner has an uncanny knack for being accurate in both his decisions and where he places the football. And even though he's still in the early stages of learning the Giants' new offense, there's been no evidence that he's lost his touch.

          "Kurt is a great anticipator," receiver Ike Hilliard said. "He's seeing the offenses and defenses and routes and schemes to where he can see it open up. It's almost like second nature. Regardless of how the ball looks, as long as it gets to us it's OK. He doesn't have to throw a dart all the time because he's anticipating a second or two ahead. That's all that matters."

          Warner has always been good at anticipating where a play is going. He may have had great receivers in St. Louis in Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, but the Rams' offense wouldn't have been The Greatest Show on Turf if Warner hadn't been able to constantly hit them on the run.

          In fact, no one has ever done that better. Warner's career completion rate of 66.1% is the highest of anyone who's ever thrown 1,500 NFL passes. For four straight years in St. Louis - 1999-2002 - his percentage never dipped below 65.1. And even last year, when the Giants beat him up in the season opener and forced him to play through a concussion, he still completed 62.9% of his throws for 365 yards.

          And yet, Warner believes this year he could be even better.

          "I'm smarter," Warner said. "I see the field better. I make better decisions than I did before. Through the years, I just feel every year I've gotten better from a mental standpoint. I've been able to slow the game down and I'm able to react to things better than I ever did before."

          That, of course, is what the Giants are counting on, and it's exactly why they signed Warner in June. The strong-armed, 23-year-old...
          -08-09-2004, 11:01 AM