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‘Valentine’s Views:’ Thoughts on Daniel Jones replacing Eli Manning

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The move to the rookie is coming, and here is how I feel about it

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Big Blue View has existed since Feb. 19, 2007. The first post on the site included yours truly advocating for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. I have consistently defended Manning for more than 12 seasons now.

If you began reading this column, though, believing in the wake of coach Pat Shurmur floating the possibility [probability?] that Daniel Jones could take over as the Giants’ quarterback as early as Sunday vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that you were about to read all the reasons that would be a mistake you would be wrong.

I absolutely would understand the move to Jones now should the Giants decide to make it. As much as I would hate it for Manning, who deserves better than what he has been surrounded by with the Giants in recent years, I would go so far as to say I would even support a move to Jones.

Make no mistake. Shurmur didn’t say what he said — that Manning “has been our starter to this point” — on a whim. He knew exactly the impression that would create — that he was prepared to hand the reins to Jones beginning Sunday. Also, don’t think he said it without having discussions with GM Dave Gettleman and co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch.

Everyone will say out loud that the Manning-Jones decision is Shurmur’s to make, but those are just words. When it comes to a two-time Super Bowl champion and the longest-tenured player in franchise history, moving on from him is not happening unless ownership either a) says that it’s time or b) agrees with a suggestion from the coach that it’s time.

I bring that up because Shurmur didn’t open the door to the idea of Jones taking over just to create social media arguments, sell newspapers or drive page views. He said it because it’s almost certainly going to happen.

The coach told reporters on Monday that he would “absolutely” tell everyone on Wednesday who the starting quarterback will be against Tampa Bay. Having opened the door I will absolutely be surprised if Shurmur and the Giants don’t step all the way through it on Wednesday and make the move to Jones.

Honestly, it’s the right thing to do.

It’s not Manning’s fault the Giants are 0-2. Has he left a few plays on the field? Sure. It’s not his fault, though, that the defense has been a sieve for two games. It’s not his fault he didn’t have Golden Tate, Darius Slayton or Corey Coleman to throw to the first two games, and that Sterling Shepard played in only one of those games.

Manning has been OK. At least, that’s how I see it. He has been what should have been expected. Able to make some throws, but not able to elevate the talent around him, to make players look better than they actually are.

I will always make the case that for years Manning hasn’t been the problem. He has been the face of the problem. He has been the easy one to blame or to vent your frustrations on, because he has been the one who has shown up every game day for years now and been part of far too much bad football.

Still, we’re not here to re-litigate how anyone should feel about Manning. We’re here to discuss whether moving on right now is the right thing to do.

Shurmur has said for months that he has believed Manning gave the Giants the best chance to win. The organization was always going to give the 38-year-old a chance to show whether or not he could help the Giants do that in 2019.

Two games of a 16-game season might not be a completely fair sample size, but we have learned a lot. We know the Giants have an extremely young, inexperienced defense that is going to take its lumps this year. We know that only about 13 percent of 0-2 teams make the playoffs. We know that the Giants would have to go at least 9-5, maybe 10-4, over the final 14 games to make a playoff run. We know they don’t look anything like a team capable of doing that.

We have always known that whenever the Giants were eliminated from playoff contention, or came to the organizational conclusion that they just weren’t good enough to be a playoff team, there would no longer be a point in Manning playing and Jones sitting.

The evidence so far is that the 2019 Giants are not very good. If you look hard enough, though, there is some evidence that they have some of the pieces they need to get headed back in the right direction, even if some of those players are experiencing ugly-looking rookie growing pains. Jones is undoubtedly the biggest one. If the Giants are going to be good in 2020 or in the years immediately after that they are almost certainly going to get there with Jones at the controls.

It’s time to fully embrace that future.

It is inevitable that the Giants will turn toward Jones and away from Manning. That they will fully embrace the future and let go of the past. They really have no other choice.

For too many years, the Giants have embraced half-measures in trying to fix their problems. Changing coordinators. Pushing out the coach but hanging on too long to the GM who let the roster crumble. Trying again and again to find some way to give the aging, beloved, iconic quarterback a proper sendoff.

It’s time for the half measures to stop. The Giants have shredded a veteran defense that wasn’t performing to the level of its hefty paychecks, replacing it with a young, developing group that has potential but doesn’t yet have the experience or all of the pieces it needs to be a championship-caliber group.

Shurmur and GM Dave Gettleman both know that their futures, their legacies are tied to whether Jones succeeds or fails as an NFL quarterback. They climbed out on a limb and selected him in the NFL Draft when plenty of others thought they should not have. His outstanding preseason gave a hint that they might have been right.

Is there really a down side to getting Jones on the field and beginning to find out, for real, what kind of NFL quarterback the kid from Duke can be?

As much as I hate it for Manning, I don’t really think there is. There will be growing pains. There will be ugly games, like we have already seen from the defense. There will also, hopefully, be flashes of brilliance. If playing Jones leads to an unlikely [at this point] run into playoff contention that’s a bonus. The more Jones, and other young players who will hopefully be part of the Giants’ future play, struggle and learn in 2019 the better prepared the organization will be for 2020 and beyond.

It’s time for the Giants to accept that their present really needs to be about their future. If they have decided there is no point in waiting any longer to do that, I’m fine with it.