When you get past the shock and raw emotion of the slap in the face the New York Giants delivered to Eli Manning this week, you are left with a couple of stark realizations.
First, whether it was this season, during the offseason, sometime next season or at some point in 2019, this was going to happen. There was going to come a time when the Giants would tell Manning he was no longer the face of the franchise.
Second, there are solid football reasons for looking at the other quarterbacks on the roster. Mostly, of course, that means looking at rookie third-round pick Davis Webb. That is something many fans and media members signed off on as a good — even necessary — idea weeks ago. The Giants are 2-9, going nowhere for the fifth time in six years, and will likely have a top five pick with a potential franchise quarterback available. Getting as much information as you can about the young quarterback already on your roster makes perfect sense.
“I don’t know if this is going to give us all the information we need, but it’s going to be better than nothing. It’s better than just watching them run scout team out there every day,” co-owner John Mara said on Wednesday. “With quarterbacks in particular, you don’t know what you have until they’re out there facing a pass rush, making decisions at critical points in the game and making plays.
“So we want to get whatever information we can, but obviously we’re going to have a high draft pick this year and there are going to be some quarterbacks available. So that’s going to be a decision that we’re going to have to make, but I’d like to make that decision at least having watched some of these guys play.”
The decision, then, is understandable. Even defensible. Manning can’t be the quarterback forever. This offseason is really the crossroads where the Giants have to determine who will be his heir. So you get why they have decided that pulling the plug now is in the best interests of the franchise.
What you don’t get, at least I don’t get, is how this was done. The Giants handled this about as poorly as it could be handled.
In my view, how the Giants handled this is typical of the dysfunction that has come to typify what not that long ago was an organization that was first-class, championship-caliber, one that made everyone associated with it proud. That includes the fan base. Not so much these days.
This is just another embarrassment for a franchise that has been handing itself a lot of those lately.
Mara didn’t want Manning embarrassed.
“He’s a special — not only a special player,” but a special person,” Mara said in describing what he thinks of Manning.
Yet, the co-owner let that happen, anyway. He wasn’t even in the building when the statement announcing the decision — a statement Mara said Manning insisted the organization release — was sent to media.
Mara let McAdoo, an embattled coach who might not even finish the season, deliver the news to Manning. After 14 years and two championships the conversation Mara said he had with Manning Wednesday morning should have taken place before this happened. If the player was or is that important to Mara he should have delivered news of this decision himself.
Instead, he let the coach do it. A coach who has spent much of the last year throwing the quarterback under the bus, and who hasn’t exactly shown tremendous communication skills.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily his strength, but I suppose he could have (delivered the news a better way). Again, at the end of the day, does it really make any difference?,” Mara said. “The fact of the matter is it’s a major decision for this franchise and with a beloved figure, people are not going to like it.”
Does how you break the news that he is no longer the franchise quarterback to a guy who won you two Super Bowl titles and has represented the organization with nothing but class and dignity make a difference?
Umm ... yes, it does. That Mara doesn’t see that is mortifying.
At least we know Mara was on board with the decision, admitting that he was the one who actually set the wheels in motion.
“I mentioned to him (Jerry Reese) a week or two ago – ‘don’t you think it’s time that we start to get a look at these other quarterbacks at some point during the games’ and he agreed. Said he had already had a conversation with Ben (McAdoo) about that,” Mara said.
Mara said he was “naive” to think Manning would agree to starting and playing only part of games.
Again, the owner needed to talk to Manning before signing off on taking his job away. Shame on Mara for not handling this himself.
Whether he ends up firing McAdoo at the end of the season or not, Mara should also be embarrassed for allowing the impression that he has chosen a head coach who has done nothing for the franchise over a quarterback who has meant everything to it for the past 14 years.
Scout team? Really?
Manning spent time at Wednesday’s practice running the scout team. He also had to catch his own passes, something he hasn’t had to do since becoming the starter in 2004.
Seriously? That’s how you’re going to treat him? Not only by stripping him of his job, but then by letting the head coach treat him like just another scrub? Shameful.
This is all about Davis Webb.
Geno Smith is not the future of the franchise at quarterback. Davis Webb might be, and the only acceptable justification for not playing Manning is to get a look at the rookie.
Yet, Webb isn’t playing Sunday against the Oakland Raiders and Smith is. Per McAdoo, it sounds like Webb won’t even be active.
So, Reese and McAdoo have been discussing the idea that they need to look at the other quarterbacks — which really means looking at Webb. Yet, McAdoo told us this week that the Giants have to this point done nothing to prepare Webb to play.
The rookie’s routine has been the same all season, and was still the same at Wednesday’s practice. He splits reps running the scout team — the opponent’s offense — with the other backup quarterback. On Wednesday, that was Manning. Then, he watches the rest of the team portion of practice, taking mental reps by shadowing the movements of the quarterback who is on the field.
Embarrassing. Dysfunctional. Unconscionable. Unbelievable.
Yet, typical of what the Giants have become. They’re broken. They’re Humpty Dumpty.
Question is, will ownership do what needs to be done to put the pieces back together? It is certainly hard to have confidence they will.