Many people have called for the New York Giants quarterback to be benched over the last few years. With the Giants drafting Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick last year, many people believe Eli Manning will finally lose his starting job. With reports of Jones playing well in training camp, it seems like Manning’s time as a starter will end soon.
However, the Giants’ coaches and owners keep saying Jones won’t start this year. Looking at the team’s quarterback situation more closely, it seems like Manning will be the starter for at least most of the year.
The Giants will not completely rebuild
This is the first reason Manning will start for most of the year. Instead of a full rebuild, the Giants will try to win games while rebuilding. Owner John Mara stated this week that the team “needs to win some games” this year.
Because of this strategy, the Giants likely won’t bench Manning. While the Giants haven’t done well the last few years, the 38-year-old QB has still put up pretty good stats. In the last two years, Manning has completed over 60% of his passes. Last year, he threw for over 4,200 yards.
What Manning doesn’t do is lift his team to wins. His teams are 5-23 over the last two years, and he throws a lot of interceptions. Right now, the Giants don’t have a supporting cast to allow Manning to play effectively. And as he declines, his performance will only get worse.
With the Giants trying to convince fans (and themselves) that they can win this year, they’re less likely to bench Manning to develop Jones. Barring a complete meltdown from their starter, Jones probably won’t play this year.
The team won’t bench Manning until they’re out of the playoff race
The Giants won’t bench Manning if they’re contending for a playoff spot. In previous years, Manning has improved in the playoffs and led the Giants to two Super Bowl victories. The Giants will count on Manning to step up his game in the playoffs. As a result, they won’t consider benching Manning unless they are out of that race.
On paper, their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, have two of the deepest, most talented teams in the conference. Chances are one team wins the division and the other makes the playoff as a wild card. Because the Giants must play both teams twice a year, they could endure four losses. Combined with all the talented NFC teams, it’s likely the Giants won’t make the playoffs for a third straight year.
However, the Giants’ schedule is rather easy to start. They only play three games against last year’s playoff teams in the first 10 weeks. Due to the Giants’ tough schedule the last six weeks of the season, their playoff chances may not disappear until the last few weeks of the season. As a result, it may not be until Week 15 or 16 before the Giants even consider benching Manning for Jones.
The Giants are worried about public reaction
Two seasons ago, the Giants tried to bench Manning, ending the second-longest quarterback starting streak in NFL history. It led to a huge public backlash, especially when they started journeyman Geno Smith instead of third-round rookie Davis Webb.
The Giants also faced huge public criticism for taking Jones so high in the draft at sixth overall. Many people thought the team should’ve drafted a pass rusher with their first pick and then picked Jones later in the first round. Much of the criticism centers on General Manager David Gettleman, who’s made many controversial picks during his tenure.
Continuing to play Manning avoids several problems. The Giants won’t be criticized for treating Manning poorly. They also won’t get criticized if Jones does poorly when he plays. As a result, it’s easier to play Manning while Jones develops on the sidelines.