Coach Ben McAdoo announced today that Eli Manning will not start on Sunday in favor of Geno Smith. Manning has started the last 210 games over the last 14 years for New York, dating back to November 14 of his rookie year of 2004, the second longest consecutive start streak in NFL history. Manning has led the Giants to an abysmal 2-9 start to this season, defying all expectations for them to produce similar win totals to last year’s 11 wins. In justifying his benching, McAdoo said that having Smith start “is what’s best for the team.”
This is a tragic, pathetic decision by McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese. They are pinning their colossal failures on the face and rock of their franchise. They are blaming their 2-9 season on the man to whom they gave the worst offensive line in the league for protection and whose top three receivers, including one of the league’s finest, have been lost for the season due to injury, and not on a coach whose players anonymously rip him in the media and a GM whose draft record is among the worst in the NFL. In humiliating Eli Manning, McAdoo and Reese are attempting to hide behind his benching and conceal the fact that their coaching and personnel decisions have led the Giants to their horrible record and that they probably will be fired at the end of this season.
Eli Manning is one of the most well-respected players in the NFL, and the Giants should be ashamed of themselves for demeaning one of the greatest players in their franchise’s history. While Eli is 37 years old and admittedly over the hill, he should be treated with pride and not be judged based on his quarterbacking prowess. While the Giants certainly need to play rookie third-round QB Davis Webb this season to see if he is their future franchise quarterback, they should not have done that by benching Manning. Sitting Manning for Webb is more justifiable as Webb could potentially be the future of the team, McAdoo benched Eli for Geno Smith. If you have been paying attention to the NFL for the last five years, you know that Geno Smith is not good at football.
The backlash to Manning’s benching has been swift and fierce. Many former Giants, including members of the Super Bowl XLII championship team, have criticized the coaching staff and front office for making such a decision. In fact, David Deihl, Manning’s former offensive lineman, said that he was “speechless,” and Shaun O’Hara, another former Giants offensive lineman, tweeted that he “didn’t think the Giants’ season could get any worse.”
Eli Manning has been the definition of the New York Giants for 14 years. A gritty, quiet player, he never complained about his predicament and went to work every day. He won’t complain now, either, even though that the Derek Jeter of the Giants will be holding a clipboard for the rest of the year and perhaps never see the field again with his team. Eli Manning is a Giants legend. The team ought to treat him like one.