When you've been a NFL coach as long as Wade Phillips, you tend to get connected with different families around the league.
Facing quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants on Sunday, the defensive coordinator began his Thursday press conference illustrating just how far back he and the Manning family go.
"I've had a long relationship, I guess you'd say, with the Manning family," Phillips said. "Archie was with us at New Orleans. I know him — that's a great family. Peyton, obviously, was with us at Denver.
"And then Eli was with us at San Diego — for about two minutes," Phillips added with a laugh.
Phillips is referring, of course, to the famous trade between the Chargers and Giants in 2004. Back then, Phillips was defensive coordinator to head coach Marty Schottenheimer in San Diego. The Chargers selected Eli Manning with the No. 1 overall pick and sent him to the Giants in exchange for first, third, and fifth-round picks. Oh, and some quarterback named Philip Rivers, who New York had chosen at No. 4 overall.
But Phillips was the defensive coordinator to his father, Bum, when Archie Manning was quarterback of the Saints in the early 80s. And he was the defensive coordinator of the Broncos in 2015, when Denver won the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning.
Even though he never quite coached Eli Manning, Phillips has faced him a number of times. As head coach of the Cowboys from 2007-2010, Phillips squared off against Manning twice per season, with varying degrees of success.
"Unfortunately, we saw him three times one year and we beat them twice during the regular season, then they beat us in the playoffs and won the Super Bowl," Phillips said, referring to the 2007 season when the Giants beat the Patriots.
But it's been a while since Phillips coached in the NFC East, and he can see the growth from Manning since that time.
"The talent is there, and plus he's obviously more experienced now," Phillips said. "He's one of those quarterbacks that, he knows what coverage you're in even if you disguise things. He knows when you're blitzing — those kind of guys are hard to blitz. They know where to go to and quickly to do it. He's a complete quarterback, he wouldn't have all of the rings and the championships he's had without being a great player."
That's why even though the Giants haven't gotten off to an ideal start in 2017, Phillips isn't taking Manning lightly.
"What a great career he's had and he's a tremendous player," Phillips said. "You can say 1-6, but this guy is a great quarterback, so we have all the respect in the world for him and what they can do. They had a week off like we did and I know we feel rejuvenated. I think you got to expect the other team to feel the same way. I expect it to be a heck of a game."