Eli Manning will start at quarterback for the Giants on Sunday with no blueprint to get rookie Davis Webb on the field or even in uniform during the final three games of the season.
“I’m week by week and let’s win the next game,” interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said Monday of his game plan at quarterback. “To beat the Philadelphia Eagles, Eli Manning is our quarterback. I don’t feel that changing, but I don’t know what next week is going to bring.”
More questions about Webb, no doubt, who looks more and more as if he’ll be a full redshirt this year after being selected with the third-round pick in April’s draft. Had the Giants been cruising along toward the playoffs, no one would have much concern about the kid and his playing time. But because the team has been eliminated from postseason contention for a while now, Manning’s sacred streak already has been snapped and the Giants are looking at a top-three draft pick in the spring, there is some urgency to seeing what Webb looks like in an NFL game.
Spagnuolo said there will be no change to Webb’s snaps in practice this week, which is to say he will work with the scout team. As for making him the backup Sunday, Spagnuolo said: “I’m not sure what would be gained other than if something happened to the starting quarterback that he goes in . . . Is it that much more of an advantage to have him standing on the sideline as the second than there is having him standing on the sideline as a deactivated player?”
Manning says there is.
“I think you always think you’re ready, you think you kind of have the answers, until you’re out there and you’ve got to make some decisions,” Manning said Monday. “Hey, are you going to make this check? Hey, I think this blitz is coming, but are you sure and do you know how to pick it up? . . . There’s a lot to learn, and honestly, I believe the best way to do it is through experience and to get out there. Make the mistakes, see it all and try to just find ways to get completions and move the ball.”
Of course, Manning would prefer that Webb’s experience not come at the expense of his own playing time.
The turmoil over Manning’s starting job earlier this month supposedly was spurred by the organization’s desire to see Webb in game action. That’s what co-owner John Mara said during the week when Geno Smith was named starter and Ben McAdoo still was the head coach. The public outcry over that decision, though, sent Smith back to the bench, sent McAdoo packing and apparently has shut down any thoughts of playing Webb.
If management came to Spagnuolo with a directive to play Webb, he said he would do it.
“I would certainly respect that,” he said. “I think we all would do that. Authority is authority. But that hasn’t happened yet.”
Spagnuolo is in a tough spot. He’s been defensive coordinator for most of the season and has little connection with the offensive thinking, so he knows about as much about Webb as Giants fans do. The difference is that he seems less curious than they are.
Is Webb ready to play?
“I don’t know that,” Spagnuolo said. “That’s a fair question: Are we not moving him up because we don’t think he’s ready?”
Would he be comfortable if Webb had to play?
“I can’t answer that,” Spag nuolo said. “I don’t know that I have enough of a feel. I would have to ask the offensive coaches about that.”
Have the Giants already moved on from Webb toward one of the premier quarterbacks coming out in the draft?
“I don’t think that’s the case,” Spagnuolo said.
What Spagnuolo did say was that the Giants are continuing to invest in Webb. He outlined the work that quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti Jr. does with Webb during practices and before games.
“There are things they’re doing together throughout the course of the week you wouldn’t normally do for a practice squad player,” Spagnuolo said. “There is tremendous preparation for this young man to be a quarterback in the NFL.”
Just probably not this year.