Will Eli Manning be the quarterback of the New York Giants in 2019? In a post-season meeting with reporters on Wednesday, general manager Dave Gettleman didn’t definitively say yes. He also didn’t definitively say no.
He did say that he has already had a “no holds barred” conversation this week with Manning — that was initiated by the quarterback.
“Eli and I had a very extensive conversation on Monday. No holds barred,” Gettleman said. “We will do what’s in the best interest of the New York Football Giants.
“What we’re trying to do here is build sustained success. That takes some brutal honesty and tough decisions.”
Committed to Eli?
A year ago, Gettleman was clear in his support of Manning, saying he “still saw a quarterback that knew what he was doing, had plenty of arm talent and can win games.”
This year, Gettleman wasn’t nearly as adamant about his commitment to Manning.
“Here’s what I’m committed to do,” he said. “I’m committed to making the best decision in the interest of the New York Football Giants. That’s what I’m committed to do.”
“Everything’s on the table for us”
Gettleman said that while he had seen every snap from Manning this season he wanted to take a couple of weeks, watch the film and take the emotion out of any evaluation to be made.
“I’m gonna do what I do, which is get in my office and watch film,” Gettleman said. “I will be watching film for the next, who knows how long, until my eyes bleed. That’s what I do.
“My commitment is to make this team the best team it can be. If that happens to have Eli playing quarterback it does.”
That’s a far cry from the outright support given to Manning by coach Pat Shurmur, who said after Sunday’s season finale that he “absolutely” wants Manning to return next season.
“I think everybody thinks I’m nuts, but I’ve seen the good in Eli and I believe in the good, especially in the quarterback position,” Shurmur said. “I believe everybody around him has to do their job as well. I certainly hear things, but I believe in him.”
Gettleman did say Shurmur’s belief in Manning would be “part of” the ultimate decision.
“We’re going to hear the coaches, what they have to say. We’re going to hear the pro guys, what they have to say. I’ll get my work done and then we’ll get together and formulate a plan,” Gettleman said. “Pat’s had a lot of success with quarterbacks, so I’m certainly going to listen.”
The Giants, of course, started 1-7 with Manning getting sacked 31 times in those games.
“When you’re installing a new offense you’re looking at 4-6 weeks before everybody’s on the same page,” Gettleman said. “We were having o-line issues, weren’t we? We made changes. I think that’s part of it, you’ve got a comfort factor in terms of the offense is on the same page and you’ve also got a comfort factor in terms of the o-line.”
Gettleman said he “almost fell down” when he found out the Giants had scored more points than any team in the NFC East.
“At the end of the day between the fact that they were able to get comfortable with each other and we settled the offensive line down we scored points,” Gettleman said.
Eli’s 2018 season
Gettleman said it was difficult to fault Manning for 2017 because “the guy was running for his life last year.”
“If you’re going to look at stats it wasn’t too shabby what he did,” Gettleman said. “Obviously we want to win more games.
“He can still make NFL throws. You know what I’m saying? He’s still got it.”
Manning finished with career highs in completion percentage (66.0) and interception rate (1.9 percent). Many of his other stats also trended upward.
Will the Giants draft a quarterback?
Gettleman did say he would not make quarterback a priority in the 2019 NFL Draft.
“If you make something a priority you will make a mistake,” Gettleman said. “It’s got to be within the flow of what you’re doing. You can’t force it, especially at quarterback.
“You get in the draft you’re taking the best player. You’re not taking ‘I need a, so I’m taking a.’ No. You do that you’re gonna make a mistake, you’re gonna screw it up.”
Gettleman was asked about the continuing conversation about whether or not Saquon Barkley was the right pick at No. 2 a year ago. He reiterated his best player belief.
“You start reaching you’re gonna get into trouble,” Gettleman said. “Us taking Saquon was not a referendum on the quarterbacks. It was a referendum on Saquon, on the player he is and the person he is.”
What does it all mean?
Gettleman was asked what his “ideal” quarterback situation would be next season and said he “couldn’t answer that question because I don’t know what the field is.”
In the end, the view here is that Manning will be back. Between Shurmur’s stated belief in him and Gettleman’s pointing out both the improvement on offense and the belief Manning can still make the necessary throws it’s hard not to see it that way. Unless Manning doesn’t want to be back.
Thing is, that doesn’t mean the Giants won’t address the future. At this point, we don’t know what the Giants think of Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones or any other quarterback who might be in the 2019 draft class.
As of now, I believe that the Giants would be willing to select a quarterback if there is one they believe in and they can do it without mortgaging a significant amount of draft capital. I just believe that even if they do that Manning seems likely to still be in place.