The season has continued to spiral out of control for the New York Giants. Recent losses to the 1-9 San Francisco 49ers and a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Washington Redskins in which the offense looked feeble were apparently enough for beleaguered coach Ben McAdoo. With the Giants now officially eliminated from contention, the rest of this season becomes about an exploration of the roster for next season. This does mean changes under center for the first time in 14 seasons but not the kind of changes I’ve been pushing for. Eli Manning will ride the bench … but it’ll be Geno Smith under center, at least for now. And I can’t really figure out why.
I’ve been arguing for a couple of weeks that the Giants ought to be focused on the future. Manning will turn 37 years old in about five weeks and like all of us, he isn’t getting any younger. He has two Super Bowl MVPs and a list of playoff accomplishments that include playoff wins in Dallas and San Francisco, as well as a, being the only visiting signal-caller to win a pair of postseason games at Lambeau Field.
However, all of that was now six years ago and the Giants have not won a single playoff game since Manning won his second Lombardi Trophy in four years. With the expectations of this season developing into the franchises worst season in more than 30 years, something had to be done.
The right move in this situation is to look at the future. The team should wind up with a top-four draft pick and that pick should perhaps be given to whichever top quarterback prospect is left waiting for them when it’s their turn.
In the meantime, the team ought to be taking a hard look at Davis Webb. The rookie out of California has sat behind Smith and Manning all season and with the team officially eliminated, it makes sense to give the younger players a chance to see what they can do going into 2018.
Instead, this weekend will mark Geno Smith’s 31st NFL start and the numbers don’t really warrant a second look. Geno led the co-tenant New York Jets to an 8-8 mark in his only full season as a starter in 2014 in which he threw only 12 TDs against 21 interceptions. He started nearly all of the team’s games the following year en route to a 3-10 mark before being replaced as the starter. He has spent all of 2015 and 2016 on the bench.
A scout in the 2011 movie Moneyball told a would-be baseball prospect that there comes a time when everyone is told they can no longer play a kids game for a living. “Some are told at 18 and some are told at 40 but we’re all told”, he said.
No one knows at this moment what the future holds for Eli Manning. Will he regain his starting position in 2018? Will he be traded or cut? These are questions he isn’t used to being asked and we are not used to having to answer. Wherever he goes, he takes a Hall of Fame resume with him. His 50,625 yards passing ranks him 7th all time as of week 13. His 324 TDs also ranks 7th, with only names like Brady and Brees among his contemporaries bettering those two marks. He’ll see his number 10 in the Giants’ Ring of Honor someday and I do think he’ll have a shot at sitting beside his brother in Canton someday. Wherever he goes, it’s a certainty that Geno Smith will not follow and it begs the question of where in the world this team goes from here.