Ben McAdoo says he's 'at peace' with how he handled Eli Manning's benching
McAdoo's benching of Manning played a role in his firing
Even before they lost their best player for the season to a fractured ankle, the 2017 New York Giants were not a very good football team. The Giants began the season 0-4 with losses to the Cowboys, Lions, Eagles, and Bucs, and they were on their way to losing to the Chargers at the time Beckham got injured. An 0-5 start quickly mushroomed into 2-9 campaign when then-head coach Ben McAdoo decided to bench longtime starting quarterback Eli Manning so he could get a look at younger players like Geno Smith and Davis Webb down the stretch of the season.
Smith started the team's Week 13 loss to the Raiders, but that would be his final start of the year. McAdoo was fired before the team could begin game-planning for Week 14 against the Cowboys, and interim coach Steve Spagnuolo re-installed Manning as the starter the following week.
Among the many reasons McAdoo was fired was how he handled the benching of Manning, who had started 210 consecutive games for the Giants, mixing in two miraculous Super Bowl victories along the way. McAdoo, writing a section for Peter King's new Football Morning in America column at NBC, stated Monday that he is "at peace" with how he handled the Manning situation.
"Right or wrong, I am at peace with how I handled the decision to play quarterbacks other than Eli Manning down the stretch of last season. At the time, we were 2-9, beat up, and I told Eli we wanted to see the other quarterbacks on the roster—including our promising rookie, Davis Webb. I was not ending Eli's career with the Giants; I was making sure we knew what we had behind him with a high draft choice prior to a big quarterback draft. I gave him the option to start the games to keep his streak alive. I understand why he said no, and he was a true pro about it. My bedside manner hurt me that week. I'm working on that. I do think it was special how his former teammates and the fans rallied around him that week. But if there's one thing I want fans of the Giants to know, it's that I made this call to try to make the Giants stronger for the future. It probably got me fired, but I believe I did the right thing for the right reasons."
Whether or not McAdoo did the right thing for the right reasons, it ultimately played a role in costing him his job. And the Giants did not end up getting a real look at either Smith or Webb, and they did not end up drafting a quarterback at No. 2, instead selecting Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants surely hope they do not have a chance to pick near the top of the draft again anytime soon, but if they do, the odds seem low that they pass on a quarterback for a second time. If they're bad enough to be near the top of the draft, that likely means Manning's performance was poor enough that it would surely be time to move on.
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