One of the things I always find frustrating dealing with fans is that too often one gets asked “WTF were they thinking when they did … ?” when the Giants do something they don’t understand or at least don’t agree with. It’s frustrating because one would hope that fans would more often take a few moments and actually ty and figure out exactly what they are thinking because the fact of the matter is that football ain’t rocket science and for the most part the people that run the Giants are pretty smart football guys that have a pretty good reason to do just about everything they try.
Try as I might, though, nothing about the current situation with Eli Manning makes much sense at all. On the one hand, while one almost never wants to say never, I have little doubt that the Giants are planning on moving on from Eli this offseason. However, there was no need at all to do it now. At the same time, one could make the case the Giants might want to give rookie QB Davis Webb some actual game experience. However, until this week the Giants had given no indication at all that they were even thinking of playing Webb at all this year. In fact, it appears that he still isn’t getting any snaps in practice. And any notion that the Giants ‘need’ to get a look at Geno Smith just doesn’t pass the laugh test.
Similarly, the notion that this was primarily a case of miscommunication between Ben McAdoo and John Mara/Jerry Reese does make much sense. According to Mara, he and Reese agreed with McAdoo that that Eli would be informed that he might be lifted if any the Giants remaining games got out of hand, but what got conveyed to Eli by McAdoo was that he would be lifted at halftime whatever the score. Fact is, those two strategies aren’t even in the same time zone and if true would amount to almost wilful insubordination on the part of McAdoo rather than just a simple miscommunication. And if true that would almost be a fireable offense; also if true, one would have imagined Mara would have taken some steps to correct once he returned to New York. Instead he just kind of shrugged it off.
Here’s what I am wondering. Did the Giants actually do all this with an eye toward the 2018 draft? It’s no secret, for example, that the Giants are almost virtually assured of taking a QB with their top pick. And with a half decent roster already in place, if they get the right guy they could be looking at another 8-10-12 year run. Also remember the Giants are in a division in which their two toughest rivals – Dallas and Philadelphia – already have their young QBs of the future in Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz respectively. Indeed, don’t get the right guy and you could be looking at bringing a water pistol to a gunfight over the next decade.
It’s also no secret that the Giants have been scouting the heck out of the L.A. QBs Darnold and Rosen. The problem for the Giants, though, has been that those two QBs are more than likely going to be taken with the first two picks overall and the Giants are stuck at #3. In fact, it would likely take some divine intervention for Cleveland to win two of their final 5 games to pass the Giants. It also hasn’t looked like the 49ers were capable of beating anyone other than a thoroughly disinterested Giants team such that it really didn’t look like there was any realistic way for the Giants to get to the #2 pick and guarantee a shot at at least one of Darnold/ Rosen.
But just hours before the fateful news broke about the Giants move with Eli, the 49ers announced that Jimmy Garoppolo was taking over at QB in San Francisco. And given their relatively easy remaining schedule, the 49ers suddenly look a lot more competitive with a young veteran with potential starting at QB rather than a rookie 5th rounder. Just as suddenly that second might actually be in play for the Giants. However, to get it they really can’t win any more games. You can’t really ask your players to tank – heck a classy organization like the Giants would NEVER ask their players to tank – but you can certainly jigger your lineup especially with so much on the line down the road. My guess is that the Giants had McAdoo tell Eli he’d be coming out at halftime with the idea that they’d be considerably better positioned to lose with Geno Smith or the rookie Webb at QB after the break rather than Eli. They also probably expected Eli would take the offer in order to extend his streak; however, the PR aspect of the deal kind of blew up in their faces when he refused. At the same time, though, I didn’t get much of a sense from Mara’s presser on Wednesday that he really cared all that much that the fan base was enraged.
Needless to say there are a lot of dots to connect here, but none of the other . And perhaps most importantly, would the Giants organization pull their punches to get a better draft pick. Under normal circumstances, I doubt they would, but with the chance to trade off a potential elite QB for a meaningless win or two, I dunno. I would!