Eli Manning will start at quarterback for the Giants against the 49ers on Monday night. Pat Shurmur is hoping the result of that game will lead to his no longer having to make such proclamations.
This one, on Tuesday as the team returned to work from its bye week, was necessitated by the Giants’ 1-7 record, the offense’s inability to score points in the red zone, and a door that Shurmur left open before the team departed when he gave a “we’ll see” about Manning’s role moving forward.
Shurmur said he spoke with Manning by telephone “a couple times” during the break.
“Part of the conversation was: ‘We trust you, we want to work with you, and we trust the fact that you’re going to get in there and help us win football games,’ ” Shurmur said.
There are some caveats to that confidence.
“I explained to him that he’s going to start on Monday,” Shurmur said. “I also explained to Eli that everybody needs to play better as we go through this. It’s important that we’re not ‘almost’ in these games and we do what we have to do to get it over the top and win football games. We’ll just take it from there.”
As for the seven games on the other side of this 49ers contest, Shurmur offered no guarantees, either publicly or to the 15-year veteran privately.
“He’s starting Monday,” he said. “You guys roll with it how you want with the idea that he’s gonna get us on a run here and there’ll be no decisions to be made.”
The fact that there were decisions to be made about the quarterback situation during the bye week spoke to the disappointment of this season and how ill prepared the Giants were for the possibility of Manning not stepping up to the challenges put in front of him. The options behind Manning are, let’s face it, not very appealing. Alex Tanney is the backup and rookie Kyle Lauletta is the third-stringer who undoubtedly had a better chance to see the field in the coming weeks before he was arrested for a number of traffic violations last week. Neither is necessarily better than Manning. They’re just different.
Shurmur, who had been talking about Lauletta’s positive development throughout the season, pumped the brakes a bit on that storyline on Tuesday.
“He’s working himself into position to play,” Shurmur said. “He’s done a good job out here in practice. He’s a small-school quarterback, so there was a lot to learn, and there is a lot to learn about how to prepare in the NFL. He’s going through the process of doing that.”
Lauletta has not been active for any games this season, with Tanney serving as the in-game backup. At some point this year, the Giants will want Lauletta to play just so they know what they have in him going into an offseason in which they are likely to be in the market for a new franchise quarterback.
“When you bring in rookie quarterbacks, there is a process they have to go through to develop,” Shurmur said of Lauletta. “Some guys have to develop further than others. Once the world quits seeing training camp practices, that continues. Guys pick up things at different paces … I don’t know what the world is expecting. We’re just trying to get him as good as he can be so when he goes in there he has success.”
The same holds true for the 37-year-old quarterback.
“Part of what you do during the bye week is get back to basics and try to see what you did well and do more of that, see what you didn’t do well and try to minimize that,” Shurmur said. “I think we as coaches have to do the things that [Manning] does well, and we all just need to be better.”