Eli Manning is the “starter,” but will he actually start the season opener?


If we’ve learned anything about the Giants this year it’s to take nothing the team says at face value.

Monday’s headlines regarding the most important situation on the field were driven by the notion that coach Pat Shurmur won’t have a quarterback competition, that Eli Manning is the “starter,” and the rookie Daniel Jones occupies a spot in the group behind him. But this is the organization that insisted it didn’t sign Odell Beckham to trade him, and then traded him. So what they say about any given topic really isn’t all that binding.

Especially if Jones ends up performing extremely well between now and September, and Manning doesn’t.

Consider the assessment of Monday’s overall circumstances from Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. Leonard writes that Manning struggled in a red-zone, 11-on-11 drill, with three passes thrown out of the back of the end zone and a fourth tipped by defensive back Sam Beal and intercepted by safety Jabrill Peppers, with Beal explaining after the fact that Eli was “staring [the receiver] down.”

Consider specifically this passage from Leonard’s article regarding Monday’s OTA work: “Manning did not impress. And if he practices and plays the way he does on Monday — and Jones simultaneously improves — the pressure will turn up higher on Manning quickly and significantly.”

“There is little room for any more Eli error,” Leonard concluded. “The pressure is on, and the leash could be much shorter than anyone expects.”

I’ve quoted at length from Leonard’s article because I continue to believe that the leash is indeed short on Manning, and that if Jones performs in a manner befitting the sixth overall pick in the draft, he should be able to fairly and squarely win the starting job over an aging veteran whose performance last year put him outside of at least 20 of his peers. In a league that has only 31 peers in all, that’s not good.

But the transition from Manning to Jones will be extremely delicate, and the Giants will have to tread lightly, or risk a repeat of the ugliness that emerged when former head coach Ben McAdoo tried to bench Manning for Geno Smith. The Giants have to say whatever they can say to prop up Manning, and if it becomes painfully obvious that they were absolutely right to make Jones the sixth overall pick, they can welcome the development as the proverbial “good problem to have.”

Impatience in this regard would invite the worst problem to have, because an ignominious benching of Eli coupled with underachievement from Jones would be the worst way to close the book on one franchise quarterback and to open the book on the next one. The safe, and smart, play will be to stand firmly behind Eli unless and until it becomes clear that Jones is the better option.

If that happens, Shurmur will have no choice but to make the switch. Otherwise, he’ll lose all credibility in the locker room. Which is much worse than whatever credibility he’d lose (not much at all) if the unofficial depth chart he outlined on Monday ends up being a far cry from the way the quarterbacks line up against the Cowboys on September 8.

17 responses to “Eli Manning is the “starter,” but will he actually start the season opener?

  1. I think Eli starts the season opener unless he’s hurt.
    He may not start another, but he’ll start that one.

  2. The safe, and smart, play will be to stand firmly behind Eli unless and until it becomes clear that Jones is the better option.


    It’s a catch 22. What’s going to make it clear Jones the better option? Practice? Plenty of guys have looked great in practice and stink it up during games.

    The only guarantee is that Manning will stink it up during the game but will have have a great completion percentage because half his passes are completed behind the line of scrimmage.

    Giants fans had plenty of reason to dislike McAdoo but benching Manning was overdue and he was hoping to get Davis Webb some starts to evaluate him before the end of the season.

  3. I have to laugh at the amount of people that think a rookie can come into the NFL and take a 10+yr starters job!

    There’s a reason the BUST rate for QBs drafted in the 1st round is at nearly 70%, because it’s such a demanding position at this level and there aren’t a lot of players that can step up to the challange of playing QB in the NFL, especially in their first year! But for some reason a whle lot of people think a rookie straight out of college can stroll into the NFL and take a journeyman QBs job, it just shows how little most people including the sports media actually knows about the sport at this level! These rooks aren’t playing against a bunch of amateurs anymore like they did in college. These D’s are faster, smarter,stronger and hit harder than anyone they’ve ever faced before so GO AHEAD AND PUT HIM IN THERE, I LOVE SEEING ROOKIE QBs GETTING THEIR “WELCOME to the NFL MOMENT”, makes for good TV!!!

  4. let say Eli plays poorly and Daniel Jones starts after several games … and does worse.
    What do you do?
    Go back to Eli?
    Stick with Jones?
    Its a lose-lose.
    Gettelman is gone after the season in that case.

  5. Giants still need improvement in other areas and Jones needs to learn. Start Eli, improve the rest of the team, and get Jones ready for 2020. We who buy tickets can suffer another year if we see real potential down the line. I for one suffered my first game, as you might guess, in the Polo Grounds. I’m as close to a Brooklyn Dodgers “Wait ‘Til Next Year” fan as their is.

  6. Fans were pissed about Geno Smith because he’s…Geno Smith. Not an unknown rookie. Not someone the NYG drafted 6th overall. We weren’t getting a look at someone new. We were getting someone exactly nobody who is a Giants fan wanted. Everyone knew who he was and what he brought to the table.

    As far as Eli goes, you don’t pay the second string guy $20 million for the year, so I suspect he’ll start.

  7. The giants hired the wrong GM who hired the wrong HC. They then drafted the wrong position and overpaid an overrated player whom they ultimately traded away. This year the GM drafted QB inferior to any of the ones they could have drafted last year………

  8. Best case scenario for the Giants is that Eli gets hurt at some point during the year.

    Takes the decision out of their hands and the torch is passed without any backlash.

    You never want to see one of your guys go down, but I wonder if the organization has that thought in the back of their mind…

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