With a struggling rookie quarterback and three straight losses during which the offense has not been nearly good enough to win games, you knew the question had to come at some point.
It came Monday. Would Pat Shurmur consider benching rookie quarterback Daniel Jones and going back to 16-year veteran Eli Manning.
“No,” was Shurmur’s simple — and correct — answer.
“I think Daniel is going to learn from everything that’s going on. Just like all the other rookies in there playing are going to learn from the things that happen.
“But, you have to learn and you have to win games. I’m well aware of that. I’m totally well aware of that.”
I wrote when the Giants gave the job to Jones that it was for better or worse, that there was no going back to Manning.
There isn’t. The Giants are 2-5. They aren’t going to the playoffs. They aren’t even going to sniff the playoffs. There is zero point in handing the job back to the 38-year-old Manning in the hopes of finding what would largely be an empty victory or two that would do nothing to help the Giants get better long-term, which is all that matters now.
The only thing to do now is point toward the future and work with Jones on the indecisiveness and ball security issues that have led to seven interceptions and six fumbles in five starts.
“Ball security is primary, especially for the quarterback,” Shurmur said. “ ... he’s gotta secure the ball better. It’s certainly something we have to get fixed.”
Shurmur is now just 7-16 as Giants head coach. He knows it’s a bottom line business.
“We live in the real world and the real world is you need to win football games, and I understand that. I’m well aware of that,” he said on Monday.
Shurmur, and everyone else, has to know that at this point in time it is the development of Jones in the long term, not anything Manning could possibly do in the short term, that will be the biggest factor in whether Shurmur is ultimately successful as head coach of the Giants.
“I think he [Jones] made a lot of nice throws in the game yesterday,” Shurmur said. “Obviously, that was a tight throw to Rhett (Ellison) in the end zone for a touchdown. He’s aggressive. He made another one down the sideline to Evan (Engram) that would have put us in scoring position. He made some other really good throws. He’s tough, he’s resilient and I think he has a bright future. That’s what I like about him.”
Those were without doubt rays of sunshine on an otherwise wet, dismal day. There were, though, too many poor plays. It’s the nature of the beast with a young quarterback.
Just like everyone exulted in the victories over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins, they must accept the mistakes and shortcomings and hope that Jones and Shurmur are eventually able to fix them.
“I see growth in everything,” Shurmur said of Jones. “That’s part of playing as a rookie. There’s going to be things that pop up that you see for the first time and you react to it.”
Ironically, after Manning was heavily criticized the past couple of seasons for checking the ball down too quickly and not being aggressive down the field, Shurmur is being asked if Jones is being overly aggressive and needs to check the ball down more often.
Which, quite honestly, he probably does. Or, be more willing to just get rid of the ball and throw it away when a play isn’t developing.
“That’s always something they have to do, they have to get the ball off on time. Most of the time he does, but those couple of plays he doesn’t we’ve gotta get those fixed,” Shurmur said.
“He is aggressive and I think he’s got a downfield focus, which is good. That’s sometimes why he holds onto it. He’s waiting for his guy to get open. But, there’s a fine line there. ... I think we want guys that are aggressive.”
There is also a fine line between the present and the future. The Giants right now have to err on the side of the future. Which means living with the highs and lows a talented but still learning rookie quarterback will provide.