Sullivan had to learn to identify and quickly correct a fluttering or inaccurate throw.
Did Manning take a bad step? Is he “locking” his hip? Did his arm angle fall off?
Though nine of Manning’s interceptions last season glanced off his receivers’ hands and Manning set a career-high with a 62.9-percent completion rate, he and Sullivan realized one of the points on the Gracie goal triangle had to be “accuracy.”
“Look, there ain’t anybody in the NFL that’s not going to throw an interception. It’s going to happen,” Sullivan said he told Manning. “But if it happens, that son-of-a-gun’s gotta earn it. It’s gonna have to be a heckuva play.”
Better mechanics are what Sullivan has stressed. And, on his part, better understanding of those machinations.
“He’s always been good at that,” Manning said, “(but) another year under someone’s belt doing something, you’re always going to be more comfortable and have a better idea.”
Those who watched Manning all season have noticed how accurate he’s been while sliding in the pocket or rolling to either side. In the first victory over the Cowboys, he threw a 24-yard strike to Hakeem Nicks near the sideline while escaping two rushers. Last week against Dallas, he rolled to his right and hit Devin Thomas with a perfect pass to the sideline.
For those throws, and plenty others, Manning can thank Sullivan’s lack of experience in working with quarterbacks.
“I won’t say his drills are unconventional but, not being a quarterbacks coach before, he has some different drills where it’s uncomfortable movements,” Carr said. “You’re not just dropping back, moving to the left and right, stepping up and throwing the ball, which never happens in the game.
“You move up, you sprint out, run away from someone and then try to throw off-balance. We do that drill every Wednesday and something every Thursday and Friday that’s similar to that, where we move around and twirl.
“We always move around. It seems to make something happen.”
Just like leaders do.