The Giants front office desperately wants Eli Manning to be their starting quarterback in 2019, but the veteran may not have what it takes any longer.
Daniel Jones might unseat Eli Manning sooner than some think.
Ask anyone in the Giants front office or coaching staff who they want to be the starting quarterback when the regular season begins and you’ll quickly hear the name Eli Manning come out of their mouths. To put it mildly, that’s an unusual occurrence for a franchise that just drafted a quarterback with the No. 6 pick.
Unfortunately for Manning, the organization’s fervent wish for him to be a productive starter in 2019 isn’t going to be enough to turn him into a productive signal-caller.
The good news is Manning seems to understand that some element of competition does exist in the preseason. He recently told reporters he knows he needs to play well early. That’s the standard Manning line from but there’s an element of self-awareness in his words.
Head coach Pat Shurmur isn’t pulling punches about his preseason plans for Jones. He’s repeatedly said Jones should be working to be ready to play Week 1. Manning proponents can explain those comments that should apply to any projected backup quarterback. Neutral observers can clearly see that Shurmur wants to instill some level of competition between his two top signal-callers during the preseason.
That’s a logical move for the Giants’ new head coach based on how Manning has played over the past several seasons. He clearly struggles to push the ball downfield with any meaningful combination of velocity and accuracy. That won’t improve during his age-38 season. Shurmur’s offense will try to give Manning easier throws this year with Saquon Barkley’s receiving ability out of the backfield, but at some point, he’ll need to push the ball downfield to help keep the chains moving.
How soon the Giants can get Jones ready to play is just as important as the team’s worries about how much Manning still has in the tank.
There were serious questions coming out of the draft about whether Jones was worthy of such a high selection. Even if general manager Dave Gettleman and his front office were right about their evaluation of Jones, it’s easy to see he has a long way to go before he’s ready to take meaningful snaps in an NFL game.
Jones’ need for time to adjust to the professional game. It’s easy to envision a scenario where Jones goes out in the preseason and makes it very clear to everyone he needs time on the sidelines. In some ways, that would be a blessing for Giants’ officials who want to give Manning a proper exit.
The other ace in Manning’s hole is the support of Gettleman. He’s arguably the most headstrong GM in the entire NFL. He’s been insistent that Manning will be his starter when the regular season begins. Even if Shurmur and his staff want to make a change, it’s possible Gettleman will assert his authority and keep Manning as the starter.
In the end, Giants fans should be prepared to pay very close attention to how their quarterbacks play during the preseason. Manning will be given every chance to earn the starting job, but it’s not a certainty that he’ll be under center when the regular season begins. Team officials are doing everything they can to dispel the idea of a quarterback controversy, but Jones does have a legitimate chance to win the job before the regular season begins.