Eli Manning lost six straight starts as a rookie.
Eli Manning had one of the worst outings imaginable against the Ravens in the midst of those struggles.
Eli Manning didn’t post a victory until the final game – the final play, really – of his first season.
Eli Manning, Eli Manning, Eli Manning.
Maybe because he is still on the team, still on the sideline and still in the quarterback room, it’s a natural tendency to compare what Daniel Jones is going through this year with Manning’s experiences from 2004. That it has been a decade and a half since the Giants have had to withstand growing pains at the quarterback position such as the ones we are witnessing in 2019 also helps to link the two players.
So surely, when they are alone in meetings or on the sideline, Manning puts his arm around Jones and relays what he went through in an effort to support and rally the rookie. To explain to him that these storms will serve to make him a better player down the road, just as they did for Manning. To share the lore of what shaped Manning from a wobbly baby deer of a quarterback to a champion buck.
Jones said on Monday that the two rarely talk about Manning at all. No “this is how I did it” chats, no “I made that mistake, too” pep talks. The Giants were thrilled to have a two-time Super Bowl MVP around to help guide Jones through his rookie season, but rarely, it seems, does Manning relate any of his personal tribulations or paths to victories with Jones.
“We’re mostly focused on this team and our conversations are mostly about what we’re doing this year as a team,” Jones said.
That would seem to be a missed opportunity. The Giants could have Alex Tanney or any other veteran quarterback teach Jones how to study film, how to read defenses, how to make on-field decisions. They kept Manning around with Jones to teach him to be a franchise quarterback and because Manning, like Jones, was a first-round draft pick upon whose shoulders the weight of the organization was placed.
Instead, apparently, the only time Jones gets any insight into how Manning traversed his rookie season comes from outsiders such as members of the media who can’t help but bridge their two experiences. Jones was 7 when Manning made his first start, so he has no first-hand memories of that journey from bumbling rookie to Super Bowl hero in four short seasons. Those should be the lessons that Manning imparts on Jones. The ones only he can.
It's somewhat understandable that Manning would shy away from rehashing his own glories (or, in the case of his early career, lack thereof). Just about any 22-year-old’s eyes would glaze over after enough stories from yesteryear, about the way things used to be, how Manning had to walk to games ... uphill both ways ... in the snow. Manning only is 38, he doesn’t want to get “OK, boomer”-ed by Jones or any of the other players in the locker room, most of whom are younger than him by a decade or more.
It’s also admirable that Manning is allowing Jones to be his own quarterback and not necessarily follow in the footsteps that Manning set for what, through no fault of his own, has come to be expected as the trajectory for a young promising passer on this team. Manning never has been comfortable talking about his legacy or his place in Giants history. It would be awkward to do so now with someone who has to live up to it.
Jones does get plenty of guidance from Manning. The biggest piece of advice?
“Just to be consistent in how I prepare and how I carry myself,” Jones said. “I think certainly there is a lot to learn and he’s been very helpful with me in that sense of learning from the mistakes and correcting things. But I think his message has just been to be consistent and continue to move forward and not let the last mistake affect the next play.”
Still, it would be nice if Manning could impart a little Manning-specific knowledge to Jones, if he could relay some institutional history on his successor before, in five weeks’ time, his tenure with the Giants comes to a likely end.
After that, Jones likely will have another quarterback or two in the room with whom to talk shop, analyze defenses, and break down plays. Who knows who it will be. Maybe Tanney, who signed a two-year contract last offseason. Maybe another veteran who has seen a thing or two with a different team or two.
But he won’t have Manning, who really is the only person in the world who can so closely relate to what Jones is going through this season with this team in this market.
To not discuss those similarities between them is a shame.
Notes and quotes: The Giants waived WR Bennie Fowler, likely to make room for a player with punt-return skills with WR Golden Tate in the concussion protocol and S Jabrill Peppers dealing with a back injury . . . Former Giants LB Carl Banks is one of the 25 modern-day semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the first time he has progressed that far. Five modern-era players will be part of the 20-person “centennial class” of Hall of Famers that will be announced in February.