What happened to Eli Manning Tuesday afternoon is virtually unprecedented. A future Hall of Fame quarterback, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, was benched. Not for a first-round pick. Not for the future of the organization. But instead, for a journeyman quarterback in Geno Smith.
Now, great quarterbacks in NFL history have been benched or replaced from time-to-time, late in their careers. Johnny Unitas was ultimately traded by the Colts in 1973. Joe Montana was traded in 1992, largely because the 49ers had Steve Young armed to take his mantle.
Steve Young Photo: Getty Images
The Colts moved-on from Peyton Manning in 2010. Due to the fact that Andrew Luck was drafted with the first-overall pick, while Manning came-off a possible career-ending neck injury.
And Brett Favre, after teasing retirement multiple times, was replaced in 2008 by Aaron Rodgers. Favre later finished his career memorably in Minnesota.
So benching or replacing future Hall of Fame quarterbacks has happened before.
And Eli Manning is the latest casualty in that regard.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Giants’ brass, Head Coach Ben McAdoo and General Manager Jerry Reese, made the decision to bench the two-time Super Bowl MVP. This in favor of former Jets’ anti-legend Geno Smith. Rookie Davis Webb will be worked-in during the final weeks as well.
Future Hall of Famers do get benched. It’s happened before. However, normally under different circumstances. The benchings/trades generally occur for the following two reasons. First, because of injury. Or secondly, because the team has a highly touted backup, who could be the future of the franchise, ready to take over.
Montana had Young behind him. Manning had Luck waiting. And Aaron Rodgers, who was clearly one of the most talented arms in the NFL, was ready to replace Brett Favre.
Eli is a different story.
Number one, Geno Smith isn’t Aaron Rodgers. And Davis Webb isn’t Steve Young. Neither of these players jump-off the page. They won’t set NFL records. Webb is more likely to develop into a serviceable NFL starter. But, he wasn’t a highly-touted pick. He was selected in the third round. It’s why the G-men are even considering taking a quarterback in the first round this year. Because Webb is likely not the answer.
As for Geno, well we all know what he is. He’s a below-average talent. Nothing more, nothing less.
Geno Smith Photo: nymag.com
The idea the Giants are looking for their future by giving Webb and Smith a shot is complete nonsense. And when Ben McAdoo said in his press-conference, “We think Geno gives us the best chance to win in my system”, you could hear laughter in the distance. The mere uttering of such gibberish is insulting to our intelligence.
In no system, no country, no planet, no universe, will Geno Smith ever give the Giants a better chance to win than Eli Manning. Who again, is a two-time Super Bowl champion. One of the best quarterbacks in franchise history. And a player wildly adored by the fan-base.
Eli Manning Photo: sportingnews.com
Eli isn’t broken down and neither Geno Smith nor Davis Webb are Steve Young. So, that begs the question: Why was this move made? What’s the reasoning?
Well, the reasoning is simple. Ben McAdoo is trying to save face. The head coach understands there is virtually no chance he’ll be back with the Giants in 2018. The only possibility he has to save his job, is to make Eli Manning the scapegoat for his failures this year.
If for some wild reason, Geno Smith leads Big Blue to three wins in their final-five games, then McAdoo could use it as a bargaining chip. He’ll say to the Mara family, “Eli wasn’t right for my system. You saw how we played with Geno. I, Ben McAdoo, am not the problem. Eli just wasn’t the right fit.”
Now even if he makes that claim, he’ll still probably be gone by season’s end. This because the players on the team hate him and ownership knows it. However, he could use the same elevator pitch when applying for jobs as an Offensive Coordinator next year.
That’s the reason for this move. The only reason.
You can’t totally blame the guy. He’s just looking out for his best interests. Yes, he’s being spineless and throwing a good man under the bus. But, in his mind, it’s the last trump-card he possesses which can save his flopping career.
The person to blame is John Mara. He should’ve fired McAdoo three weeks ago. Mara opened-up his organization to this chaos by allowing a desperate man to lead this team. McAdoo, a desperate man, is making a desperate move.
In turn, it’s creating a huge backlash against the organization. Fans love Eli, and they don’t take kindly to his poor treatment. But that’s what Mara brought on himself by keeping McAdoo in town.
The result is utter chaos. The team benches one of the greatest players in its history. The media and fan-base explodes with anger. And Damon “Snacks” Harrison angrily tweets at Carl Banks, a former Giants great, and the team’s current color-analyst for radio broadcasts. The Giants are in utter disarray.
Only one fix remains. John Mara should fire Reese and McAdoo tomorrow morning. Eli should be re-announced the starting quarterback. And Steve Spagnoulo should be named the interim head coach for the final-five games.
But that won’t happen.
And for that reason, the Giants deserve the circus they’ve created.
John Mara Featured Photo: sportingnews.com