Giants owners apologize to fans in letter, Mara says he didn't expect Eli to sit

Eight days ago, Ben McAdoo announced that he was benching Eli Manning for Geno Smith. Six days after that announcement, and hours after the Giants lost to the Raiders to fall to 2-10 on th eseason, McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were fired.

McAdoo's original plan was to start Manning and allow him to keep his 210 consecutive starts streak alive, then pull him at halftime for Smith. Manning wanted no part of said plan, so McAdoo benched him.

Giants owner John Mara was under the impression that Manning would play the first half. Needless to say, he was surprised when it didn't happen.

"Maybe the timing of it could have been a little different. I wish I could've been here when that was all going down," Mara said a day after Manning was demoted. "What I did not expect -- and this was my fault; maybe I was naïve. I did not expect Eli to react by saying to go ahead and start the other guys.

"I understand, especially after speaking with him [Wednesday]. I completely understand, but that took me by surprise a bit and maybe I would've handled that a little differently."

So this week, in the wake of a low point in a season filled with disappointments, Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch sent an apology letter to season ticket holders (via the Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News).

"Today, we made the difficult decision to relieve head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese of their duties," the letter began. "This season has been extremely disappointing for our organization, and we determined now was the right time to make these changes.

"Steve Spagnuolo, our defensive coordinator and a former NFL head coach, will serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season. Kevin Abrams, our assistant general manager for the last 16 years, will assume the duties of interim general manager. As owners of this franchise, our goal is to deliver the highest quality of football to you, and we know we have fallen short of that goal this season. We will conduct a diligent and thorough search for a new head coach and general manager.

"We know you and all of our fans have been frustrated this year, and many of you have voiced your disappointment and displeasure. Your passion for our franchise does not go unnoticed, and we appreciate your continued support as we move forward to provide you with a renewed sense of Giants Pride."

It's hard to imagine that a single letter will assuage all the concerns of the disgruntled Giants fan base, but perhaps it's a start. The team has four games left on the schedule -- the Cowboys and Eagles at home, at the Cardinals and Redskins -- and it's inconceivable that they lose them all. The silver lining: The Giants would have the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, which could be used to find the heir to Manning since it appears that Smith won't be assuming that role anytime soon.

In  the short term, Manning is expected to regain the starting job ahead of Sunday's matchup against the Cowboys. In the long term, the Giants still need a head coach and general manager. Here are the early favorites.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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