Everything you need to know about the seismic change that has taken place in the New York Giants franchise since they lost to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday can be told in the press conferences held by Daniel Jones and Eli Manning on Wednesday.
For nearly 16 years, ever since he took over as franchise quarterback, Manning has always gotten the deferential treatment. He’s been the one who got to stand at a podium or in front of an auditorium of seated media members, while other players — especially other quarterbacks — were left to do the best they could to handle media scrums at their lockers.
On Wednesday, the scene was far different.
Jones, the newly-anointed No. 1 quarterback, held his first press conference as the team’s starting quarterback from the stage at the front of the Quest Diagnostics Training Center auditorium.
Manning was left to handle a media horde of probably 30 or more writers, photographers and videographers — one so big that as the group waited to get into the locker room players needing to enter couldn’t get through and had to use an alternate entrance — from in front of his locker.
Welcome to the new reality for the New York Giants.
We are now firmly in the Daniel Jones era.
Jones spoke deliberately on Wednesday, choosing his words carefully while trying to both project confidence that he is ready and be respectful of Manning at the same time.
He said was “excited for the opportunity,” albeit in what he called “a unique circumstance.”
“You never really know when something like this is going to happen,” Jones said. “My job is to be ready and to continue to improve. I feel like I have been able to do that. Like I said, you don’t know when something like this is going to happen. I can’t control that. I was just trying to be prepared, and I will continue to prepare the same way this week.”
Meanwhile, Manning was left to deal with his new reality.
Eli Manning discusses starting QB change pic.twitter.com/kzoOL7Nv7j— New York Giants (@Giants) September 18, 2019
“There’s no other option but just to handle it and do my job, support my teammates, support the Giants, and do what I can do to try and go help win some football games,” Manning said. “Right now, that’s getting Daniel (Jones) prepared and helping him and supporting him.
“When you’re a football player, you do what you’re told and this is what I’ve been told and I’ll handle it.”
Manning, as might have been expected, handled his new circumstances with the class that has marked his 16-year run with the Giants.
“I’m not dying and the season’s not over, so there’s a lot to be positive about, a lot to be grateful for, so I’ve just got to accept my new role and make the best of it,” Manning said. “Just taking this day by day, so just trying to figure out how to run a scout team — that was my number one objective of today, and I thought I did pretty well.”
Is Jones ready for this?
“I certainly feel good about how far I have come in my preparation and my progress since I got here in the spring, through camp and through these first couple weeks. We’ll try to make sure we have the best week we can, and I’ll certainly do all I can to be as prepared as possible,” Jones said from his comfortable podium perch. “Yeah, I feel ready and I’m certainly looking forward to the opportunity.”
The Giants have had issues ranging far beyond quarterback play during their season-opening losses to the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. Jones understands that.
“Through the first two weeks, like you said, there have been a number of issues. As a team, we all have to perform better. I think everyone’s on the same page there,” Jones said. “My job is to come in and be prepared and know exactly what we need to do and execute that. Like I said, we have good players and good spots. My job is to execute the offense, to get the ball where it needs to go on time and accurately. I don’t think my role changes in that sense. Just to execute.”
Jones also understands the job he has been handed.
“I feel like I’m ready to embrace it,” he said. “I’m confident. Like I said, I feel good about my progress to this point. I certainly understand there will be a lot to learn, and I look forward to that. To Giants fans, just know that I’ll compete as hard as I possibly can, prepare as hard as I possibly can, and when I’m out there, I’ll play as hard as I can and do what I can to help this team win games.
“I understand the responsibility, I understand the challenge, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.”
Passing the torch
Jones said that he and Manning spoke privately after Shurmur informed them of the switch.
“As you all would expect, as anyone who knows Eli would expect, he was nothing but supportive of me. Obviously, I understand the circumstance and it’s a difficult one. But he’s very supportive of me and I can’t say enough about who he is as a person, as a teammate, and he’s been that way since I’ve gotten here,” Jones said. “We had that conversation and then we went about our Tuesday preparing and watching film like we have the first two weeks. I’m certainly very grateful and appreciative of his support since I’ve gotten here.”
Manning told media that he knew mentoring Jones would be “part of the deal” this season.
“I’ve been trying to help him in every which way I could throughout the preseason and training camp and what not, so now I’ll still do that,” Manning said. “I’ll support him, answer his questions if he has any, don’t get him thinking too much, but just give him information that I’ve learned over 15 years that I think he could use.”
The 38-year-old Manning said he was “disappointed,” but added that he always knew it was a possibility he would end up losing his job.
“I didn’t know how everything was going to shake out this year. You just know when you draft a young quarterback, there’s a possibility that they’re going to play him if things don’t go well,” Manning said. “We didn’t start fast, and that’s the situation we’re in now.”
Beyond learning how to run a scout team, Manning didn’t want to discuss what comes next for him.
“I haven’t thought much past this week. So, just kind of taking it day by day and figuring that out,” he said. “I’ll get into futures later on. Right now, my future is I’m the second-string quarterback of the Giants and I’ve got to get myself ready to play and do whatever I’m called upon and feel I need to do to help out the rest of my teammates.”