An unlikely week in New York football?
Try an impossible-to-believe, world-is-off-its-axis week. A week so stunning that how it unfolded still boggles the mind.
A week in which the Giants went off the rails with a series of missteps usually associated with the Jets. A week in which the Jets seemed so . . . so normal . . . the way the Giants have been over the years.
The tick-tock goes as follows:
Giants Monday: Eli Manning is told by coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese that the Giants want to look at their younger quarterbacks now that the team is 2-9 and out of playoff contention. They hatch a plan in which Manning would keep his consecutive-starts streak — currently at 210 straight games — intact, but he’d come out at halftime. A disbelieving Manning says no. McAdoo and Reese tell him to sleep on it.
Jets Monday: Coach Todd Bowles, who also has two young quarterbacks behind 38-year-old Josh McCown, is asked if he wants to get a look at Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty because the Jets’ playoff hopes were mostly extinguished by virtue of Sunday’s loss to the Panthers. Bowles says no, he’s sticking by McCown despite the fact that the Jets are 4-7. Bowles also downplays the impending matchup against the Chiefs and former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who will play his first NFL game since being released by the Jets in the offseason.
Giants Tuesday: After sleeping on it, Manning still is not sold on the arrangement put forth by McAdoo and Reese, and he tells them he wants no part of it. He asks that the team release a statement outlining his reservations about the plan and his preference that he no longer start simply to keep his streak alive. At 3:27 p.m., the Giants send an email to the media announcing that Geno Smith will start against the Raiders on Sunday.
The fallout is swift; the Giants are ripped for pulling the rug out from a quarterback who has won two Super Bowl championships, likely is headed for the Hall of Fame and has the second-longest consecutive-starts streak by a quarterback in NFL history. The fact that Manning’s replacement is Smith, a Jets castoff whose career was marked by inconsistency and a punch to the jaw by teammate IK Enemkpali, only adds to the outrage of Giants fans who uniformly come down on Manning’s side and rip McAdoo’s move.
Jets Tuesday: Bowles reiterates his support for McCown as the Jets’ starter.
Giants Wednesday: McAdoo tells the media he is “at peace with the decision” and that he has no regrets about moving in a different direction in an attempt to study Smith, and later rookie Davis Webb, for the benefit of the organization.
Jets Wednesday: Like many players across the league, McCown expresses surprise at the Giants’ decision and offers his support for Manning. McCown himself is a footnote in the Manning story; McCown started for the Cardinals against the Giants in the last game before Manning’s streak began in 2004. McCown beat Kurt Warner, and Manning was named the starter the following week. It would be more than 13 years before Manning would not be in the starting lineup again.
Giants Wednesday: During an unscheduled news conference, president and co-owner John Mara acknowledges that the team didn’t properly handle Manning’s situation and expresses regret that it had come to this. Mara also says that he, too, wanted to get a look at Smith and Webb but thought Manning’s streak could remain intact. Mara wanted Manning to start and stay in the game if he played well, with Smith or Webb coming in only if Manning struggled or it was a blowout.
Jets Thursday: McCown says he’s open to the possibility of returning to the Jets in 2018 even though the team might decide to draft a QB in the first round.
Giants Thursday: For the first time in who knows how long, Manning does not appear in the Giants’ locker room during the media availability period.
Giants Friday: During a tense news conference, McAdoo insists that the Giants’ decision-makers were all “on the same page” about the Manning situation. This despite Mara’s admission that he hadn’t expected it to result in Manning not playing. McAdoo also says he hadn’t spoken to the owner this week. Oh, man.
Manning won’t start for the first time since George W. Bush was president. In his place is a quarterback whom Jets fans couldn’t wait to be done with. McAdoo and Reese likely hastened their departures by virtue of what happened with Manning. At 38 years old, McCown has a better chance of coming back with the Jets next season than Manning does with the Giants. And Bowles has a better chance of returning to the Jets next season than McAdoo has with the Giants.
Oh, by the way, Part I: Revis is playing his first game in nearly a year against the team he was drafted by in 2007.
Oh, by the way, Part II: Coming into the 2017 season, the Jets were expected to be terrible and be in line to draft a franchise quarterback. The Giants were expected to contend for a fifth Super Bowl championship. Now it’s the other way around.
The Giants have long been considered a gold standard in pro sports. The Jets have all too often been a clown car. With dysfunction and disarray often the byproduct, now it’s the Giants who have invited those unfortunate descriptions.
Welcome to one of the nuttiest weeks — and seasons — in New York football, when the world was turned upside down.