Pop quiz! Which NFL quarterback is a two-time Super Bowl champion, is seventh all-time in career passing yards, and just got benched for Geno Smith? If you guessed Eli Manning, you’re correct!
That’s right, as this awful season continues to drag on in the big apple, the Giants have given up on Eli Manning.
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, WHY?
The question everyone wants to know is: why was Eli Manning benched for Geno Smith? Eli’s streak of 210 consecutive starts is being brought to an end and he isn’t injured in the slightest. Obviously the Giants are dead last in the NFC East with a 2-9 record, but of course, there are several factors that have contributed to the Giants struggles this season. It isn’t completely Eli’s fault, and nobody is saying it is. After a rough start, the Giants top four receivers all suffered some brutal leg injuries in the same game, three of them out for the year. They have had several issues so far this year, such as a 0-5 start, the injuries to their receiving core, and the handful of players that either walked out of practice or came close to doing so. The offensive line has been a wreck as well, which makes Eli look even worse and makes his job harder at the same time. The real explanation as to why Eli was benched is the future.
It didn’t matter how he played. Eli Manning is now 36 years of age, and the Giants were going to need a replacement before too long anyway. Very few people thought it would be this early. It was reported that head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were the two that played the biggest part in the decision, although some suspect that this move was influenced by ownership. The Giants made the move not to see if they can win a few more games in 2017, but because they are trying to prepare for the future. With a 2-9 record at the moment, and after all of the disasters that have occurred in the Big Apple this season, McAdoo and Reese are both suspected to get the boot well before the start of the 2018 season (despite their best intentions to convince the organization that they are not the problem). The Giants are already eliminated from playoff contention and they are now looking to make moves that they think could best help them for the 2018 season. As far as the organization is concerned, 2017 is over, and they are doing their best to prevent a 2-9 record at this point next season.
Eli, however, handled this move with class. After 14 seasons with the Giants and 210 consecutive starts, he was upset with the move as anyone would be but said he would handle it and do what he could to help Geno Smith and the team. In an interview where he got a bit emotional, Manning said it was one of the hardest days he has had as a Giant. When asked about the consecutive start streak, he responded with: “My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them. Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak. Like I always have, I will be ready to play if and when I am needed. I will help Geno and Davis prepare to play as well as they possibly can.” His career with the Giants may not be totally over, but he is near the end. His skills and leadership will be hard to replace, and he will undoubtedly be missed in New York when he is gone for sure.
WHY GENO SMITH OVER DAVIS WEBB?
Although many Giants fans want to see Eli off the field, Geno, for many, is not their second choice. The G-Men drafted rookie Davis Webb this past offseason and he has been the third string QB for the Giants so far this season. Many want to know, why not start Davis Webb instead? It is quite simple actually, it isn’t easy to go from third-string quarterback to a capable and ready starter for an NFL team. Of course, Webb has been practicing a lot this season, but they do not feel he is ready to start or even come in later in a game just yet. The Giants have said that Eli will be the backup to Geno Smith this week and Webb will still be the third string. He will most likely get his chance to play at some point, but it won’t be happening this week, and it may not happen at all this season. However, Geno Smith was by no means a hero with the New York Jets. His contract is up at the end of this year and the Giants have no intention of making him Eli’s permanent replacement. Regardless, if Geno can play well in his first Giants start and maybe even the games after that, the Giants may be able to trade him for a better caliber player. Their other option would be to possibly re-sign him if he plays well.
THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR
Now that the Giants are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Giants have little to look forward to for the rest of this season. However, big changes are coming for the Giants in 2018, and most people now have a pretty good idea of what some of these changes will be.
The Giants are planning on cleaning house with the coaching staff and fans can expect that Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese will not be with the organization next year. There may be some other changes in management as well, but the GM and head coach positions are almost certainly going to be subject to change. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and special teams coach Tom Quinn may also be at risk of losing their jobs. As far as the quarterback position goes, we will have to wait and see what Big Blue chooses to do in the draft. There is a chance that Eli Manning, Geno Smith, and Davis Webb could end up back with the Giants, but it is unlikely that all three will return. For Eli, there has been a lot of discussion of him possibly going to Jacksonville, or even ending his career. Eli has stated earlier this season that he wishes to stay in New York, but with the grim season the Giants are having, and the fact that he is no longer the starter in New York, there is a very good chance that Eli is currently in his last year with the G-Men. Geno Smith and Davis Webb will likely be backups if either of them were to return next season, but it is doubtful that one of them will be the big replacement for the two-time Super Bowl MVP. And if the Giants draft a quarterback, things will get really interesting as the Giants may have a new star to lead their offense if they are lucky. A new era of Giants football is about to begin in 2018.
The Giants looked like sure playoff contenders at the beginning of the season, and if they get a solid QB and a healthy OBJ, Sterling Shepard, and others, there may be quite a bit of hope for the Giants in the near future. It isn’t going to be easy and it is definitely not set in stone that all of the Giants problems will be fixed next year, but they will most likely be better than they are showing this year, and there is a chance that they could be in the running for a playoff spot. With all the changes that the franchise is about to undergo it could be another rough year, but they will hopefully be on the right track.
As for now, Geno Smith is calling the shots, and we will see if he can do what Eli and the Giants offense has failed to do in nine out of eleven games this season and win a game.