Tyrod Taylor or Tommy DeVito? Tommy DeVito or Tyrod Taylor? The “who should start at quarterback for the New York Giants in Week 17 against the Los Angeles Rams?” debate has sucked up a lot of oxygen and Internet bandwidth in recent days.
We know how the Giants answered the question. Brian Daboll announced on Wednesday that Taylor, a 13-year veteran who was always supposed to be the quarterback if something happened to Daniel Jones, would get the start. DeVito, the undrafted rookie who was never supposed to play but was forced into action and — at least for a while — did better than anyone could have imagined and spawned a ‘Tommy Cutlets’ craze, will return to the bench.
The debate has been a distraction. It has been something to talk about, something to get worked up about, as the Giants struggle to the finish line of a disappointing double-digit loss season.
In reality, the debate is also completely unimportant. The real question, the real debate is about who should be the quarterback for the Giants in 2024 and beyond.
Taylor is not going to be that guy. He will be 35 next year and in his 14th NFL season. He has had stops with the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Houston Texans and now the Giants. He hasn’t been looked as a franchise guy at any of those stops. No matter where he has been, he has been a placeholder or a backup. He started for three seasons with the Bills, but they moved on when they wanted more than mediocrity.
Taylor is a free agent after the season, his two-year, $11 million contract to be Daniel Jones’ backup having run its course. Maybe the Giants bring him back next season. Most likely, though, they don’t. Taylor will continue his NFL tour, which probably has a few years and a few stops remaining, as a backup or a placeholder somewhere else.
DeVito is not going to be that guy. DeVito-mania aside, the young man went undrafted for a reason. He doesn’t have a big arm. He doesn’t have elite size or measurables. He can run a little, but he doesn’t really threaten teams with his legs.
The longer DeVito played, the less effective he was — and by extension the less effective the Giants offense was. During the height of DeVito-mania, I asked several draft and quarterback analysts if DeVito’s rise was sustainable. Matt Waldman’s answer has always stuck in my mind:
“To be clear, most NFL teams wait 4-6 weeks to begin game-planning specifically against a quarterback based on their scouting reports of the passer in the NFL. This is why, year after year, a backup generates excitement early on but his performance deteriorates as opposing defenses begin applying that scouting intel into game plans bit by bit. In a matter of weeks, those bits add up to a “book” on the quarterback. At this point, the quarterback must show he can either grow beyond his conceptual, physical, or technical limitations or that the amount of limitations is small enough that only a few defenses have the personnel and scheme to limit his game.
“DeVito has the promise to become a sustainable backup who can perform on the field when called upon.”
Dane Brugler of The Athletic said it was a “long shot” that DeVito could be more than a backup.
Depending on how long it takes Jones to return to health after his torn ACL, and who else is on the roster, DeVito might get to start a couple of games at the beginning of next season. That, though, doesn’t make him ‘the starter.’ It won’t make him the QB1.
GM Joe Schoen indicated during his bye week press conference that the Giants expect Jones to be their starting quarterback in 2024 as soon as he is healthy enough to reclaim the job.
That, though, does not mean Jones is going to the ‘the guy’ for the Giants long-term.
Jones will be on the roster next season because his contract makes it impossible for that not to be the case. The Giants would take on $47.105 million in dead cap money by making him a post-June 1 cut, $69.315 million if they made him a pre-June 1 cut.
That’s not happening.
Jones has been a Giant for five seasons now. There is still debate over what he is. And what he isn’t. I like Jones. I think he is a good, humble, hard-working person who has done everything he can to be the best quarterback he can be. He just hasn’t been good enough.
He hasn’t been what you would hope the sixth overall pick in the draft would be. And now he has a long, concerning injury history to factor in. The situation around him has been a mess for most of his time with the Giants, which is not his fault. Still, I have said before that we have reached a point with Jones where the reasons for the lack of overall success no longer matter. It just seems apparent that whatever the reason and whoever is at fault the Giants aren’t going to get where they want to go with Jones as their quarterback.
It is time for the Giants to look toward who is next, because it is pretty clear that after — or perhaps during 2024 depending what the Giants do in the draft — a post-Daniel Jones era is drawing near for the Giants.
So, who’s next?
Please don’t tell me Russell Wilson or Justin Fields. Wilson will be 36 next season, isn’t the player he once was, and makes no sense for a young, building team. Fields? Why would you trade for a player who hasn’t yet answered the question of whether or not he is a legitimate NFL quarterback? Especially when he is entering the final year of his rookie contract and you will almost immediately face major financial decisions with him?
If you are going to start over, do so with the four- to five-year runway of a quarterback at the beginning of a rookie contract.
To me, it is clear that the potential long-term answer has to come from the 2024 NFL Draft. If you are within range to get one of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels you probably have to do that if you’re the Giants.
If you can’t, or choose not to, grab one of those players it seems like the Giants have to look at the second tier of quarterbacks in the 2024 draft class — J.J. McCarthy of Michigan, Michael Penix Jr. of Washington and Bo Nix of Oregon — and figure out how to make one of those players a Giant.
That is a much bigger, and more important question than whether Taylor or DeVito should be playing in these final two insignificant games.