For those that haven’t heard about it, the Giants are benching longtime quarterback Eli Manning and will be starting rookie, and sixth overall pick, Daniel Jones for their week three game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The decision comes after a week two loss to the Buffalo Bills at home, which saw Manning throw two interceptions as the Giants dropped to 0-2 to start the 2019 season.
Among the other things this decision entails, the greatest of them all is the fact that this likely spells the end to the Eli Manning era for the Giants. While many will take this week and the next few to honor Elis’ career with the team as a whole, that shouldn’t hide the glaring truth in all this.
This decision was a long time coming, and it should have happened properly at another point the previous few seasons, but now was finally time that Manning was taken out of the starting lineup.
Now, this isn’t meant to take away from the total legacy that Eli Manning has left with the team. During his time with the team, the Giants made it to the playoffs six times, including to two Super Bowls, where they won both as the underdog against the Tom Brady led New England Patriots. The 2007 Giants will forever be known as the team that stopped the Patriots undefeated season and took them down, and Eli Manning will forever be loved by Giants fans for quarterbacking the team to two titles.
This also isn’t to say that Daniel Jones is the best option that could be taking the reigns from Manning.
While Jones had a good preseason, completing 85.3% of his passes and throwing no interceptions, he must now prove he can perform well against NFL competition regularly.
Jones, who was taken sixth overall in the 2019 draft, was viewed as a project who was supposed to spend much of the season as the backup, learning the offense of head coach Pat Shurmur and learning under Eli Manning.
At least that was what Giants President and co-owner John Mara had envisioned and hoped for. It was made clear during the preseason that Eli was going to start and that Jones would have to wait, for however long, before he would take the field as the new starter for the team.
The fact the decision was made so soon isn’t so much a testament to Jones play, it’s more to what we’ve seen from Manning the last three seasons.
While many will argue that this benching is just as unfair as the last one, and the one in 2017 executed horribly, this was still the right call to make.
From 2016 to 2018 Manning threw 66 touchdowns to 40 interceptions. Now while that might seem fine, factor in that Manning also lost 13 fumbles during this time. Increasing the total turnovers he had to 53. To make matters worse, the Giants haven’t exactly been a “winning team” the last few seasons either. Since the start of the 2017 season, the Giants have only won eight regular-season games.
To put that in perspective the Browns have also won eight regular-season games as well in that span, the problem with that? 2017 was the Browns 0-16 season. While many will point to the 2016 season that saw Manning and the Giants make the playoffs before losing to the Packers in the playoffs. Any hopes that Manning could have reverted back to that for the 2019 season were dashed when the team decided to trade away No. 1 receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
The trade of OBJ did not just mean signal the end to his tenure in New York, but it signaled the end to Manning’s production, as whenever Beckham was off the field Manning had a worse completion percentage, yards per attempt, etc, and now Beckham is off the team completely.
Ultimately this decision by the Giants reminds us two things that are profoundly true, 1. father time is undefeated and 2. reality hurts but is what we need in the end.
Manning did indeed do a lot for the organization, he was the ironman of the Giants during his tenure with the team and should indeed be appreciated for that. However, the past should not blind the reality present or the future, and the reality is that Manning can no longer do for the team what he has done for the better part of the last 15 years, which is to be their quarterback. The decision may bother fans, but it was what needed to be done.