For the first time since 2005, the New York Giants quarterback situation is not crystal clear.
Actually, it is, and it isn’t. Head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman have both said that Eli Manning, the starter since midway through his rookie season in 2004, is going to be the starter this year, barring, of course, any injuries or unforeseen circumstances.
But for the first time since Manning is on the roster, the Giants have another premium draft pick on the roster, that being Daniel Jones, who was selected with the No. 6 pick overall.
At some point, the expectation is that Jones will succeed Manning as the team’s starter. The question that no one seems to have an answer for is when that will happen.
The Projected Depth Chart
Starter: Eli Manning
Backups: Alex Tanney, Daniel Jones, Kyle Lauletta (injured)
Although Jones did some work with the second-string offense in the spring, he’ll likely open training camp as third on the four-man depth chart at this position if for no other reason than due to Shurmur’s preference of having experience behind that starter.
But if that’s’ how the depth chart is indeed going to play out, don’t expect it to stay that way for very long.
Both Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula have said that they want Jones to be ready to start the season (presumably as Manning’s primary backup). For that to happen, Jones is going to need a lot of work this summer, taking snaps not only with the second-string offense but also with the starters.
And hey, if some of those snaps come at Manning’s expense, so what? Manning has been around, and after going through one year in the Shurmur-Shula offense, he has a pretty good grasp of the concepts.
Plus, at 38 years old, there’s no reason to overwork his arm in the summer at the expense of getting Jones as many reps as possible so that he’s ready to step into games if need be.
As for Kyle Lauletta, he projects to last on the depth chart only because he was limited in the spring due to his recovery from knee surgery. Lauletta seems to be the forgotten man in this picture, but I am not 100 percent convinced his time as a Giant is over.
Lauletta will probably get a handful of opportunities to compete and if he isn’t delivering, he will be among those players waived.
But rather than completely cut ties with the second-year quarterback, don’t be surprised if the Giants bring him back to their practice squad for this year.
Doing so would give the Giants a couple of advantages. First, they’d get to hang onto a kid they’ve spent a lot of time developing.
Second, if this is indeed Manning’s last season as a Giant, come next year, if the Giants can hang on to Lauletta (who becomes exposed if he’s on the practice squad), the team will have at least three quarterbacks on the roster familiar with the offense which would put them in excellent shape for the future.
The Biggest Questions
How much does Eli Manning have left?
There are a growing number of athletes who have adopted the opinion that it’s better to go out a year too soon than a year too late.
Manning doesn’t appear to be one of those athletes. He’s worked his tail off this offseason (as he’s done every year of his career), and during the spring practices, he demonstrated just enough functional arm strength to make the necessary throws, including the deep balls.
The biggest thing with Manning is the effort he has to put into those throws. In watching him, he had to put more effort into getting the ball down the field.
But remember this: The Giants offense hasn’t really been a vertical offense for years, and it’s not really built to be a vertical offense.
So for those who point to Manning’s decaying arm strength as a reason to jettison him (and for that matter, for those who are worried that Jones doesn’t have enough functional arm strength to throw the deep balls), you might want to spend your efforts worrying about global warming rather than arm strength of the Giants quarterbacks.
How will the eventual transition from Manning to Jones be handled?
Hopefully, much more tactfully than how Ben McAdoo tried to handle it.
Seriously, this is a valid question. Manning is an established veteran who is well respected in the locker room and the last thing the Giants, who worked so hard to make that locker room as dram free as possible, need is for a division of the troops if Manning begins to struggle.
The other question that comes into play is if the coaches intend to give Jones some meaningful snaps in games and not just the usual mop-up snaps that backups usually get in blowouts, what happens if Jones’ numbers warrant more snaps?
Gettleman, back in February, said the team had a plan regarding the future at quarterback. Let’s hope that the plan includes answers to such potential questions, especially if they want to keep the locker room as vanilla as it was all offseason.