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Gilbride looking to make Eli Manning better in fourth season

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -Ever wonder why Eli Manning of the New York Giants doesn't play like older brother Peyton Manning of the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts - even for just a couple of plays?

Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride doesn't go there. It's a waste of time, and somewhat of an unfair question.

"The only thing that is similar about them is the last name and that they are big cerebral quarterbacks," Gilbride said Thursday, a day before the Giants reported to training camp at the University at Albany.

Gilbride pointed out that the Colts run a much more wide-open system and have a higher talent level on offense than the Giants, whose system stresses ball control, the running game and an occasional shot down the field.

Asking Eli to produce Peyton-like numbers is asking a lot, Gilbride said.

However, the new coordinator isn't giving Eli a slide this year with the Giants coming off an 8-8 record that barely got them into the playoffs.

"Is it fair for us to ask him to get better? Yeah!" Gilbride said. "The fact there are times when he plays very, very well, we need to see that more often, and probably more importantly, those times where he makes those big mistakes, he's certainly smart enough to cut those out. I think if he cuts those out, we'll all be delighted with the play of that position."

Gilbride and Eli Manning spent the past six months going over videotapes of the 2006 season. While Manning passed for 3,244 yards and 24 touchdowns, he also threw 18 interceptions and was sacked 25 times.

"Our guy tries to do right by everybody, so much so he doesn't want to take a sack for the offensive line and sometimes he'll force a play where he shouldn't force one," Gilbride said. "Sometimes the best you can do is to take the sack or get rid of the ball."

Gilbride said Manning has to start to understand that there will be other times in the game where he can make a big play.

As a young head coach with the San Diego Chargers, Gilbride watched John Elway of the Denver Broncos make some terrible decisions.

"You would just shake your head and say, 'How could a guy like that do that,"' Gilbride said.

However, Elway learned to stay away from the mistakes and win more frequently.

As Manning enters his fourth season, the Giants have also brought in Chris Palmer to be his quarterback coach. Palmer has worked with Drew Bledsoe and Mark Brunell in his long career, and last season tutored Tony Romo in Dallas.

After watching films from last season, Palmer has spent a lot of time helping Manning with his balance and rhythm.

"We're trying to get him moving his feet and getting back and setting as quickly as he can," Palmer said. "There are times where he is very, very good and there are times when he struggles a bit. We just have to get him back in stride as quickly as we can."

Another big key in Manning's success this season will be the play of halfback Brandon Jacobs, who became the No. 1 running back with the retirement of Tiki Barber last season. If he plays well, that should take some of the pressure off Eli Manning to produce.

It also should be noted that Peyton Manning had some early problems, including a 3-13 rookie season and a 6-10 mark in his fourth year. The Super Bowl title didn't come until his ninth season.

Eli Manning has led the Giants to playoff appearances the past two seasons.

"I think what I see from Eli is an excellent quarterback who is going to be very good in this league and will lead his team to the promised land," Palmer said.

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