You could hear eyebrows raise all over the NFL when words "70 percent" came out of the Giants' training camp on Monday.
That's the goal Giants quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf set for Eli Manning in 2014, complete 70 percent of his passes. That's something only three quarterbacks have ever done over a 16-game season – it's also seven points better than Manning's career best of 62.9 percent.
Those comments are bound to garner chuckles from Cowboys fans. One of the chief lessons I've learned since I joined the coverage of this team: the younger Manning is quite high on the list of things Cowboys fans love to hate.
Jokes aside, it raises an interesting conversation about what to expect from the Giants this year. Manning has dropped completely off the radar screen when it comes to the game's best quarterbacks, which is completely justified after his 27-interception effort in 2013. He also hasn't cracked the 60 percent mark since he led the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2011.
But do we expect things to stay that way? I'm guessing not.
As I wrote about before training camps opened, the Giants have done a decent amount of legwork in making things easier for their franchise quarterback. The offensive line isn't going to dominate the league, but it should be able to keep Manning off his back fewer than last year's career-high 39 times.
The skill players are also better than they were last year, with Mario Manningham, Rashad Jennings and Odell Beckham (who has yet to practice with a hamstring issue) joining up to help Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle [embedded_ad]
Then there's the little matter of bringing in Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator, and you can see all the ingredients for an improved performance. Seventy percent, ala Drew Brees, Joe Montana and Steve Young, though? Highly doubtful.
As always seems to be the case, it seems like there's a slight parallel to Tony Romo in Manning's bid for redemption. This time last year we focused so much on Romo's need to take care of the ball. He bombed away from nearly 5,000 yards in 2012, but he also tied a career high for picks. By spurring Manning to shoot for 70 percent, is the Giants coaching staff hoping Manning can be a more cautious, more calculated quarterback.
It worked for Romo, who completed 64 percent and threw just 10 picks last year. It also came at the expense of some explosiveness, as Romo's yards per attempt and yards per completion were both among the lowest of his career. His yardage total of 3,828 is the second-lowest total for a season in which he started more than 10 games.
Personally, I think Manning is going to bounce back. There's no way a quarterback of his caliber should have a negative-nine turnover differential, and I think he can set that right with even a decent improvement by his line.
As for the 70 percent mark, I'm going to guess he doesn't come close – but no one is going to care if New York is back in the hunt for the division title.