Pat Shurmur trusts embattled Eli Manning: He is going to 'help us win football games'
Could Monday night be the last time Manning starts a game for the Giants?
Eli Manning has had a forgettable season and there's still two months to go. Yes, he's completing a career-best 68.3 percent of his passes and is averaging 7.5 yards per attempt (which is 0.5 yards higher than his career average), but he's been sacked 31 times (he was sacked just 31 times in 15 games last season and has never been sacked more than 39 times in a full season), and according to Football Outsiders' metrics, ranks 25th overall in total value and value per play among all quarterbacks -- just behind Case Keenum and Blake Bortles.
Things have gone so horribly awry that there have been constant calls to bench Manning for rookie fourth-rounder Kyle Lauletta. This comes almost a year after former coach Bob McAdoo replaced Manning with Geno Smith. That lasted just one game and the Giants lost three of their final four games to finish 3-13. But instead of drafting Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, they took running back Saquon Barkley.
And now, through eight games, the Giants have a lone win.
But Pat Shurmur, the man who replaced McAdoo, insists that Manning is his quarterback, at least for another week.
"He's starting Monday," Shurmur said ahead of the Giants-49ers game, via NJ.com. "You guys roll with it how you want. With the idea that he is going to get us on a run here and there will be no decisions to be made. Part of the conversation was, 'We trust you, we're going to work with you, and we trust the fact that you are going to get us in there and help us win football games.'"
That may have been the conversation, but the reality is that the Giants' offense has stalled with Manning under center. Is it entirely his fault? No, the offense line is a mess and the defense continues to struggle. But he's also the quarterback, and if he's not playing well it's impossible to consistently win games.
So does Manning think this could be the beginning of the end of his time as a starter, which is now in its 15th season?
"We worry about this week," he said. "We have the 49ers. I have a job to do. I'm going to do it to the best of my [ability]."
Beyond that, Manning seems unconcerned about his fate.
"[Shurmur's message was ] get ready for the second half [of the season]. Go play well. We need to improve. Everyone needs to improve. Get going. I feel like we're close. We just have to score some more points."
The Giants' best chance to do that might be with Manning on the sidelines. But even if Lauletta is inserted into the lineup and isn't overwhelmed by the responsibility, there is no easy solution to the team's quarterback problem. The 2019 draft class doesn't have a clearcut franchise prospect, which means the Giants could be forced to look for a short-term solution through free agency.
Teddy Bridgewater probably leads that group, followed by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, Brock Osweiler and Josh McCown. There are also those veteran quarterbacks who might be jettisoned because they're too expensive or underperforming -- Joe Flacco and Jameis Winston, for instance.
Put another way: Things could get worse in New York before they get better.
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