The Giants' unexpected disastrous season took another strange turn on Tuesday when the team announced that they will bench franchise legend Eli Manning for Geno Smith against the Raiders on Sunday. They also committed to playing rookie Davis Webb at some point this season.
"Geno will start this week," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said. "Over the last five games, we will take a look at Geno, and we will also give Davis an opportunity."
Everyone is on board with the decision.
Ben McAdoo spoke with GM Jerry Reese and ownership about the decision. He said they're all on the same page.— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) November 28, 2017
And that means Manning's consecutive starts streak will end at 210. According to the Giants' press release, Manning willingly accepted his demotion. He was given the chance to start on Sunday, but not wanting to start for the sake of extending his streak, he said no thanks.
"Coach McAdoo told me I could continue to start while Geno and Davis are given an opportunity to play," Manning said. "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."
When speaking with reporters about his surprise benching, Manning was clearly emotional and appeared to be close to tears.
This isn't the best look for McAdoo, who was already sitting on a scolding hot seat after a 2-9 start to the season, which has included Geno Smith.and The entire reason McAdoo got the head coaching job after Tom Coughlin departed New York was Manning. McAdoo -- the Giants' offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015 -- was supposed to bring out the best in Manning. Now, less than two years into his head coaching tenure, he's benching Manning for
This could be the end of Manning's career in New York. If it is, he'll go down as a Giants legend, having won two Super Bowls against the Patriots with two of the more iconic throws in Super Bowl history. Manning, 36, hasn't been at his best this season behind an unreliable offensive line and without Odell Beckham, but he's hardly the problem with the Giants. The truth is, the Giants just don't need a 36-year-old quarterback anymore who is tailing off at the end of his career. It's time for them to get younger at the position.
Manning is under contract through the 2019 season. According to Spotrac, his 2018 dead cap is set at $12.4 million. In 2019, his dead cap drops to $6.2 million. So, he always could be back next year. Or the Giants could try to trade him in the offseason. With Tom Coughlin running the show in Jacksonville, the Jaguars could be interested in his services considering they're already a playoff-caliber team with the very bad Blake Bortles at quarterback. And if there's one thing Manning is elite at, it's playing clutch playoff football with a great pass-rush keeping him in close games.
As for the Giants, it's pretty clear Smith isn't the long-term answer there. Maybe Smith performs well against a bad Raiders defense, but he's also scheduled to become a free agent after the season. Smith never did live up to expectations on a bad Jets team so there's no reason to expect him to transform his career on a bad Giants team. Regardless, Smith will be the first Giants starting quarterback not named Eli Manning since Kurt Warner in 2004.
Speaking of Warner ...
Kurt Warner on benching Eli Manning: "Shame on the Giants."— Judy Battista (@judybattista) November 28, 2017
The more interesting quarterback is rookie Davis Webb, who the team selected in the third round. Webb had an interesting college career at Texas Tech and Cal in that he lost his starting job at Texas Tech to Patrick Mahomes and ended up replacing Jared Goff at Cal. He boasts the kind of attributes that NFL quarterbacks need -- -- but his career spent in Air-Raid type of systems made him more of a developmental prospect than an NFL-ready rookie. Still, as soon as he's ready, the Giants need to give him some run so they know what they have in him before next year's draft.
Entering the season, who would've thought that it'd be the Giants -- not the Jets -- who would be the embarrassment of New York football? Who would've thought that it'd be Eli Manning -- not Josh McCown -- getting benched?
What a season.