On Nov. 27, Ben McAdoo, the head coach for the New York Giants, informed the media and public that he was benching long time starter Eli Manning and rolling out backup Geno Smith for their upcoming game against the Raiders.
If you read this headline to me at the beginning of the season, I would have called you crazy. At the start of the 2017 season, the Giants were viewed as potential Super Bowl contenders.
They returned many of the same players that were on the 11-5 team of 2016 that reached the playoffs. The offense seemed to look unstoppable with the free agent signing of All-Pro receiver Brandon Marshall.
Pairing him with superstar Odell Beckham Jr. along with a supporting cast of talented young players such as Sterling Shepard, and rookie tight end Evan Engram, it seemed that Manning would finally have enough weapons to gear up for another Super Bowl run.
Yet here we are. New York is sitting at 2-9 on the year, last place in the NFC East and the embarrassment of this NFL season. The benching of Manning seems to be the cherry on top of this terrible sundae for the respected franchise.
Not seeing Manning take the first snap under center this Sunday is going to be a surreal moment not just for Giants fans, but NFL watchers across the country.
He has started 210 consecutive games for this team and was on his way to breaking Brett Favre’s streak of consecutive starts.
It is downright disrespectful to use the staple of your franchise as the scapegoat for this lost season and that is exactly what McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese did.
If McAdoo had any ounce of respect left with his players, he just lost it by pulling this stunt.
To give these guys the benefit of the doubt, Manning has played exceptionally poor this season. However, what do you expect from a quarterback who is playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, no decent rushing game and the number one receiving option being a raw, undeveloped, first year tight end?
This Giants team had a very small window of success and the roster was geared up for one last reach at a deep playoff run.
Injuries destroyed that dream along with many defensive players feuding with the coaching staff. Everything surrounding the Giants this season has been toxic and the victim of it all is Manning.
It was simply heartbreaking as he held back tears answering questions from the media at his locker. For a player that gave so much to his team and represented this franchise for 14 years, this is not how his era in New York should end.
This isn’t the first time McAdoo has thrown his quarterback under the bus. In a press conference after their week two loss to the Detroit Lions, McAdoo stated that poor quarterback play led to them losing.
His comments are just another sign that McAdoo will most likely be without a job once the regular season concludes.
The quarterback change in itself just doesn’t make sense. Geno Smith?
This is who McAdoo is looking at to help him save his job. The move wouldn’t be as heavily criticized if McAdoo came out and stated that they wish to give third string rookie Davis Webb, some playing time to see if he has what it takes to be Manning’s successor.
The football world knows what Geno Smith is: an injury prone, ill-tempered, perennial backup who has had four years to prove that he can be a viable NFL quarterback. Who knows? Maybe Smith will play well and take this team from a dumpster fire to just below average. However, this is less than probable given what we know about the West Virginia alum.
The Giants are no doubt going to have to go into a restructuring phase at the end of the season, since it seems that they are moving on from Manning. All they can do is aim for a high draft pick, and hope that Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen falls into their lap.
As for Manning, does this mark the end of his career? Most likely not. Whether the Giants feel like trading the veteran or not, there are many other NFL teams that are a quarterback away from success.
Manning can still play at a semi-elite level and has had enough playoff success to warrant interest from a number of franchises.
That is what Manning deserves, and the least that the Giants can do for him. As this marks the end of an era for Manning and the Giants, it could possibly open up a new door for the old vet as well.
Connor Sodak is a fourth-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached at CS824220@wcupa.edu.