He was summoned upstairs to meet with coach Pat Shurmur and informed he was no longer the Giants’ starting quarterback. Manning then went back downstairs and began helping rookie Daniel Jones prepare for his first NFL start.
No storming out of the building. No quick-twitch move to his phone for some social media consolation. Not even a “I need to get away for a few hours’’ to collect his thoughts after losing what he held so professionally and proudly for 15 years.
Is there any doubt Manning — even though he no longer is allowed to help on the field — will do what he can to help the Giants out of a malaise that has infiltrated the organization for the past seven years?
Manning — and this will take some getting used to — is listed on the depth chart as the backup to Jones and, as such, must be ready to play at moment’s notice, picking up practice-snap scraps. But make no mistake, this is not a let’s-see-how-it works-out scenario. Jones will start Sunday against the Buccaneers in Tampa and in all 13 ensuing games, unless he gets hurt or is so overwhelmed by what his going on around him that he needs to get pulled.
Giving Manning only two games is weak and smacks of desperation. If his leash was going to be this short, why not give him parting gifts prior to the season and hand the controls to Jones from Day 1? Why pay him more than $10 million to stand on the sideline as a backup? Why instigate the awkwardness of having a franchise icon work in practice with the scout team? Once again, those in power looked at the roster and saw gems and the reality was a bunch of rocks. As Manning aged and needed more help, he was left stranded.
Someone very close to Eli believes he will be “classy but quiet’’ during this transition and there is frustration this happened after two games: “He worked so hard for it to end this quick.’’
It is not his way, but Manning should have spoken up as those entrusted as guardians of the franchise failed him miserably. The won-loss record from 2005 until midway through the 2012 season was 74-46 and his MVP performances in two Super Bowls imported two shiny Lombardi Trophies to the glass-enclosed case at the team facility. Ever since, lousy draft picks and suspect coaching hires and shaky free-agent signings left Manning on the other side of 30 with no offensive line, no difference-making running back (before Saquon Barkley) and a horrific defense. The one year the Giants could stop anybody (2016), Manning went 11-5.
The Giants ruined the back end of Manning’s career by living out a sequel to “Dumb and Dumber,’’ only no one was laughing — except their opponents.
Shurmur respects Manning, but was only loosely tethered to him. His wagon is hitched to Jones. When an organization starts a rookie at quarterback there is a built-in patience timeframe expected from fans. Development while getting the kid valuable snaps is paramount. Winning is welcomed, but not requisite.
Handing the ball to Jones means now we must evaluate how Shurmur is at shepherding a rookie quarterback. Jones’ gains are Shurmur’s gains.
But it cannot and is not all about Daniel Jones. There is a reason why the only mention of Shurmur’s previous head coaching stop in Cleveland in the Giants’ media guide is a one-sentence blurb: “The Giants are the second head coaching assignment for Shurmur, who led the Cleveland Browns from 2011-12.’’ Well, Shurmur “led’’ the Browns to records of 4-12 and 5-11 and he is 5-13 with the Giants. Credit him with one more victory, as an interim head coach with the Eagles in 2015, and he is 15-36.
Shurmur knew in his gut he needed to do something. He was not going to fire defensive coordinator James Bettcher or give up the play-calling to Mike Shula. Manning out, Jones in was the obvious move. Maybe Jones ignites the offense Sunday in Tampa and gets his team in the end zone. Unfortunately, after that the Giants’ defense must take the field. Good luck with that.
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