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Valentine’s Views: There is no quarterback controversy, and other thoughts

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Let’s offer some thoughts as the preseason rolls on

NFL: Preseason-Chicago Bears at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it’s a John Mara decision, a Pat Shurmur/Dave Gettleman decision or a combination of all of the above, Eli Manning is going to be the starting quarterback for the New York Giants to begin the 2019 season.

He is going to continue to be the starting quarterback until he either proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can no longer play at a capable level, which neither I nor the organization believes is currently the case, or the Giants fall hopelessly out of playoff contention.

That’s just how it is.

There continue to be media members who, while questioning the Giants’ head coach, try to find backdoor ways to get Shurmur to open the door to a quarterback controversy. There are national media members and talking heads who insist there is a quarterback controversy. There are still incredulous, angry fans upset by the recent spate of losing seasons who can’t understand why Manning wasn’t gone years ago.

In the eyes of the Giants’ organization, though, there is no controversy.

“Eli is our starting quarterback and will start the season,” Mara said last week.

“John owns the team, right? We’re on the same page,” Shurmur said on Friday night, when he was once again asked if Daniel Jones supplant Manning by Week 1. “There is really not much more to say. I think I’ve been saying it all along. I just get a sense once in a while that when I answer those questions nobody believes me. Well you heard it from the owner.”

Jones has been impressive in his two preseason outings. There is no denying that. He’s been making Gettleman look good for not risking losing him by taking him No. 6 overall and not waiting and hoping he was still there at 17.

“Again, I am going to say this — people outside our building seem surprised, but we’re not. That’s why we picked him,” Shurmur said of Jones’ play thus far. “I think he’s making good progress and as he goes along here, he’s checking off all of the boxes. I think when it’s his time to play, he will be ready.”

That time isn’t now.

The purpose of playing football games is to try and win them. The Giants continue to believe that as long as they can protect him a 16-year veteran with two Super Bowl MVP trophies gives them a better chance to do that in 2019 than a talented kid who has yet to throw a real NFL pass. Maybe Jones would be a Baker Mayfield-esque exception, but most rookie quarterbacks struggle at the beginning.

To me, the Giants’ position is not hard to understand.

The way Manning has thrown the ball all spring and summer, and what looks like best offensive line the Giants have produced in years, should give optimism for the present. Jones brings optimism for the future.

What’s wrong with that?

The Bears are onto something

I gave Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy a ‘Wet Willie’ for the way he handled Friday’s game against the Giants. Truth is, that was more about Nagy throwing two challenge flags that dragged the game out than it was about him not playing any of his team’s starters.

I actually love what the Bears did last week. On Wednesday, the Bears held a 60-play starters vs. starters controlled scrimmage. They set up the situations they wanted to practice and worked their front-line players longer and harder than they would in any preseason game.

I love that. I’m also a big fan of teams who are playing each other in preseason games practicing together for a couple of days. It ratchets up the intensity and improves the quality of the work.

I am not a big fan of cards practices or first team vs. third team three-quarter speed work where the offense is allowed to catch the ball or the defense is set up to “win.” A cards practice, in case you don’t know, is where players on one side of the ball are shown a card and required to play a defense or run an offensive play that the opponent in the upcoming game is expected to utilize. That may be how regular season practices, which shouldn’t be as physical, are conducted. As we have gotten into preseason games, though, the Giants have conducted a bunch of those types of workouts and I’m just not sure how they help you get ready for the regular season.

What the Bears did seems much more productive. It also had the added benefit of giving reserves and guys fighting for roster spots added game snaps.

Preseason schedule

Am I the only one who finds it ridiculous that three of the four teams the Giants are playing this preseason are also on their regular season schedule? I know the Giants traditionally play the New York Jets and New England Patriots in the preseason. I understand the annual game vs. the Jets. There’s no reason they have to play the Patriots, though. Or the Bears. To me, this is a bad job by the NFL.

Preseason is vanilla enough with teams protecting star players and not wanting to show too much of their offensive and defensive schemes. Why show a team you are actually going to play in the regular season anything at all if you can help it.

On the interception thrown Friday by Alex Tanney, with the Giants at Chicago’s 1-yard line, Giants coach Pat Shurmur said “I drew that one in the dirt. It was late in the game when I didn’t want to waste some of our red zone plays down there, so I just drew up a naked.”

I don’t blame Shurmur at all. The scheduling is really unfortunate.

It takes a village

I wrote last week about the Giants’ wide receiving corps and how veterans in the group aren’t worried about the narrative that without Odell Beckham Jr., and now with Golden Tate suspended, the Giants don’t have enough guys to throw to.

Then, the Giants went out and completed passes to 14 different players on Friday night.

“I have said it all along that it’s going to take a village. To their credit, the veterans may win the day here, these guys who know how to play. They know how to practice, and they know how to play,” Shurmur said. “They are smart. I am fine with drawing them up in the dirt when we see something, and they are smart enough where they can adjust, and some of those things are adjustments. That crew of receivers are all very smart, they are very veteran in a lot of ways and I like them and trust them.

“Really, the crux of it all, I think they are a bunch of tough guys. They play a fancy position, but I think they are a bunch of tough guys. I think that wins the day, too.”

This is what the Giants are going to do. Spread the ball around, rely on veteran wide receivers who know what they are doing to do their jobs capably. Hope that young speedster Darius Slayton gets healthy and helps stretch the field.