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Valentine’s Views: Davis Webb, Kyle Lauletta just getting started

Thoughts on the two young quarterbacks, and more

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New York Giants
Davis Webb scrambling on Thursday vs. Cleveland.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s not go overboard and draw hard, unbending conclusions after what we saw from young quarterbacks Davis Webb and Kyle Lauletta in Thursday’s 20-10 loss by the New York Giants to the Cleveland Browns.

Webb, in his first game action since last preseason, wasn’t good. He was high with a bunch of throws and wide with a couple of others. He went 9-for-22 after starting out 0-for-6.

Most egregiously, in my view, Webb mishandled the clock at the end of the first half. Facing third-and-4 at the Cleveland 27 with 13 seconds left and no timeouts, Webb completed a 6-yard pass to Russell Shepard, a completion too far inbounds to give Shepard a chance to get out of bounds and stop the clock. Time ran out before Webb could spike the ball and give the Giants a field goal opportunity.

Let’s not bridge jump.

The are some out there who have already leapt to the “Webb is terrible, no chance he can be the successor to Eli Manning” conclusion.

Thursday was Webb’s first game action in a year. As impressive as he looked during the spring and the first part of training camp, things are a lot different in live action against a real opponent. Webb is still a young, developing quarterback who has never played a snap in an NFL regular-season game.

“I was pumped up. It was my first time playing in a year, so I think the biggest thing was kind of just take a deep breath, let the game come to you,” Webb said Thursday night. “Again, I’m not too worried about it. I know I could make those throws and I know I will. I just got to get even keeled and ready to rock and roll next week.”

Head coach Pat Shurmur said Webb’s emotions are “not a bad thing.”

“He is so prepared and he wants to do well, that’s just his personality, and he does get amped up a little bit but that’s not a bad thing,” Shurmur said. “Wanting to do well is a good thing. I think we as coaches can just help him with that.”

Webb wasn’t going to cement his future as the heir apparent to Manning on Thursday. Neither was he going to prove that was a bust, a wasted draft pick. The new Ryan Nassib.

He showed us that he is a young quarterback who still has growing to do. He needs experience. He needs to play.

Joe DeLeone | Big Blue View

Let’s not bandwagon jump, either.

Lauletta was impressive, but let’s not push him past Webb on the depth chart or immediately conclude that he is the better of the two young quarterbacks.

Lauletta went 6-of-9 for 48 yards. There was an excellent on-target, on-time deep ball to Amba Etta-Tawo that turned into pass interference. There was a beautiful pass to Roger Lewis Jr. dropped between a corner and a safety off play action. Lauletta handled possessions that began at the Giants 9, 10, and 10-yard lines respectively without turnovers or risky decisions.

“He’s very calm, and I think he finds a way to make plays. He had a nice deep ball down the sideline to Amba [Etta-Tawo] that ended up being a [pass interference],” coach Pat Shurmur said. “I [think] he’s got a calm presence about him. I think he lost control of the clock once, we got the ball snapped, but those are all things you learn when you’re playing. So, it wasn’t a bad performance to start out for him.”

Lauletta’s calm demeanor is something offensive coordinator Mike Shula has also talked about. The rookie quarterback said nerves weren’t an issue when he got into the game.

“I felt really comfortable and calm. I wasn’t nervous at all. Just excited to get out there,” Lauletta said. “I felt fine. It’s no different than practice. At times practice almost seems harder than games. For me the game just kind of slows down and it’s fun. You get back to football and just having fun doing what you know how to do.”

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New York Giants
Kyle Lauletta
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

What should the takeaway be?

These are two talented — and very different — young quarterbacks.

Webb has tremendous tools. Top-flight arm strength, size, athleticism. He has a tremendous work ethic, and wants badly — sometimes maybe too badly — to succeed. What he needs more than anything is to let things slow down, to relax, to let his natural athletic gifts come to the surface. He needs, to be honest, some of that calm, relaxed demeanor that might be Lauletta’s strongest gift.

Lauletta has that calm demeanor. In talking to him, though, you also sense the resolve and competitiveness that have helped him overcome odds to get this NFL opportunity. He has anticipation, accuracy and on Thursday showed enough awareness of down, distance and field position not to force anything or make any costly mistakes. What Lauletta could use, of course, is Webb’s height and the enviable power of his right arm.

Alas, if you could only combine the two into one quarterback. You would probably have a first-round caliber player.

This competition is just getting started.

I have said this before. Webb’s strong spring and summer didn’t guarantee him the right to be considered Manning’s heir apparent. His bad game Thursday didn’t label him a “bust.” Lauletta’s good performance didn’t push him past Webb on the depth chart.

Webb is still No. 2. It’s almost certain he will enter the season that way — he has taken all the second-team reps while Lauletta and Alex Tanney split third-team work.

It could — no, it probably will — take years for this competition to fully unfold.

For now, let’s just enjoy watching these two young quarterbacks learn their craft. Not to mention the fact that the presence of a healthy Eli Manning means both quarterbacks have the time to do so.

Just try to keep an open mind. One preseason game hardly offers enough evidence to reach a firm conclusion.

Five other things I think I think

  • I’m looking forward to next week’s joint practices with the Detroit Lions. I’m not traveling to Detroit for practices, and this also means I don’t have to make the 2.5-hour drive to East Rutherford this week, either. To the real point, though, I think Shurmur has conducted an excellent training camp and I believe the joint practices will be another positive step.
  • “Kudos” to those of you who are fans of the ‘Locked on Giants’ podcast and hung with Patricia Traina and yours truly while we worked out our sound issues. We know how bad it was, and we thank you for the support. We believe that the sound is much-improved. For my part, I hope my on-air delivery is also improving.
  • I think Eli Manning chiding the media to “not go berserk” over the 39-yard run by Saquon Barkley is hilarious. And typical of Manning’s sense of humor.
  • Some of you felt ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ were a bit skimpy on Friday morning. In retrospect, I would add defensive end Kerry Wynn and cornerback Grant Haley to my “Kudos.” category. I would probably add offensive tackle Malcolm Bunche (3 pressures in 16 pass-blocking snaps) to my ‘Wet Willies.”
  • I’m hoping former Giants running back Orleans Darkwa finds a job soon. Coming off a career-best 751-yard season, Darkwa is still only 26. He can help somebody.
  • I think this is kind of awesome.