Eli Manning became one of only seven players to pass for more than 50,000 yards, and he’s about to tie older brother Peyton for second place on the all-time list with 208 consecutive starts by a quarterback. But after a franchise-rattling 51-17 loss to the Rams on Sunday, a game in which Manning was a major culprit in what went wrong for the Giants, an unfolding drama is revolving around the quarterback and where he stands with his team and with his coach.
Manning admittedly was off the mark on too many occasions in the blowout — losing a fumble, throwing an interception and failing to find several open receivers on plays that might have made the outcome a lot closer. But after coach Ben McAdoo suggested that he now is open to giving younger players some game action — including rookie quarterback Davis Webb — the 36-year-old Manning suggested in no uncertain terms that he’s not on board.
With the Giants at 1-7, McAdoo said he’ll consider getting a look at players not currently in the mix.
“You really can’t look from my chair too far ahead, but you also have to look at getting some players some reps in the game,” he said, “so we’ll take a look and see if there are any players that we can give reps to that have a chance to be a part of our future.”
Does that include the quarterback?
“That includes everybody,” McAdoo said.
Manning bristled when the comments were relayed to him.
“Hey, I want to be out there,” he said. “I want to be playing.”
He hesitated a moment and stared straight ahead before adding, “Yeah, I want to be out there.”
Would Manning at least understand if the Giants wanted to see what Davis, a third-round pick in the 2017 draft, has to offer?
“They gotta do what they gotta do. I want to be out there,” Manning said. “I want to keep playing with my teammates and keep working.”
And with that, we have yet another potentially divisive situation in a season that has been defined by controversy and disappointment.
A year after getting the Giants to the playoffs for the first time since 2011 with an 11-5 record, McAdoo has been an abject failure, to the point that the Giants will be forced to consider making a change. That’s not the way this staid and methodical franchise usually operates, but the continued losing — especially in such an embarrassing fashion — likely will prompt team president John Mara to think seriously about a makeover.
That might include general manager Jerry Reese, who has two Super Bowl victories on his resume but whose team will have missed the playoffs in five of the last six years.
Mara doesn’t like change for its own sake, but with his franchise struggling so badly and with fans showing increased apathy in the form of no-shows at MetLife Stadium, he could take bold action.
Does he go after Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was rumored to be in line for the 49ers’ job along with Falcons assistant GM Scott Pioli before Kyle Shanahan got the job? Does he bring back Dave Gettleman, a well-regarded former Giants front-office executive who recently was fired as the Panthers’ GM? Does Stanford coach David Shaw draw consideration? How about Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia?
It’s all in play as the season continues to go down in flames, and McAdoo may be running out of time. How he handles the iconic Manning will be of particular concern, especially if he decides to bench him. Even if Manning continues to start — he’d tie Peyton next week against the 49ers in San Francisco — he’s not interested in sitting. At all.
The last time Manning imposed his will on a franchise was on draft day in 2004, when he forced his way out of San Diego and was traded to the Giants. It sounds as if he won’t give ground on any plan that involves curtailing his playing time — even though he’s coming off a less-than-perfect performance that included the two turnovers and overthrows on key passes to Sterling Shepard on a deep post and Tavarres King on an attempt in the end zone.
“We’ve got to hit those,” he said. “I’ve got to make better throws.”
Manning, who has two years remaining on his contract, made it known that he wants to keep getting the chance to make those throws. And if McAdoo decides otherwise and chooses to give Webb a chance . . .
Well, then things are about to get a whole lot more intense around here. Especially for a coach who’s looking more and more as if he won’t be back next season and for a quarterback whose own NFL days may be getting shorter.