There’s no question Daniel Jones eventually will take over from Eli Manning as the Giants’ starter. Now the only question is when.
Kurt Warner doesn’t have the answer, but the Hall of Fame quarterback knows one scenario in which Jones is virtually guaranteed to replace Manning.
“Normally when you’re in a situation like this, when you make that move from the veteran to the young guy is when you kind of feel like the season is out of hand,” Warner said Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Center, where he was on hand for the NFL Network’s training camp swing. “It’s not like, ‘Hey, we’re looking for two games, things didn’t start well, so throw in the young guy. It’s usually as long as we have a chance to make the playoffs, we’ll stay with the veteran guy.”
That wasn’t the case when Warner was replaced by Manning midway through the 2004 season, although the circumstances were somewhat different. The Giants fell to 5-4 when Tom Coughlin decided to make Manning the starter. Manning has since gone on to win two Super Bowl championships and never missed a start because of injury.
“When I was here, the bottom line was that Eli got seven games to start before year two,” Warner said. “Was he further along in year two than in year one? Without a doubt. He got better each and every week. The concern is, if you’re ready to move on to the next guy, you want to give him every opportunity to go through growing pains.”
But Warner can envision a situation where the torch isn’t passed from Manning to Jones until next season. Or beyond.
“You know the time is going to come where they want to go with the young guy,” Warner said. “It’s just a matter of whether it’s midway through the season, or are they gonna give me another season? Are they willing to give me two more years and grow behind me like an Aaron Rodgers?”
It’s hard to imagine the Giants giving Jones three full seasons like the Packers gave Rodgers when he was drafted as Brett Favre’s heir apparent in 2005. Warner thinks the answer will become clear as the Giants’ season progresses and whether Manning can be functional enough to keep the team competitive.
“If it starts to go downhill a little bit, you tell yourself we’re going to go with Daniel," Warner said. "Where it really gets dicey is when you feel your team is out of playoff contention and now you have to factor everything as what’s best for the playoffs, what’s best for our team and where are we going next year. You get to 5-4, you fall off and you’re 5-8, 5-9 and you’re not gonna make it, now you have to say to yourself, ‘What are we doing next year? Do we still feel like Eli is still going to be our starter? Or are we ready to make that move to Daniel?’”