Eli Manning’s job this summer is to get ready for the 2019 season.
Daniel Jones’ job this summer is to get ready for the 2019 season.
Alex Tanney’s job? To help get both of them ready for the 2019 season.
In this Year of Two Quarterbacks for the Giants, it’s the third one who has the most concrete task. The veteran backup has no illusions about what that means. In fact, it’s a role he relishes.
“Anything I can do to help our team win,” Tanney told Newsday. “Helping break down film throughout the week to help the coaches out, anything Eli or Daniel needs. I don’t have a ton of playing experience but I feel like I have a lot of knowledge in different systems and about different defenses. I just try to share as much knowledge as I possibly can with those guys.”
With Jones in particular. The Giants made it clear that they don’t want Manning to have the hassle of having to tutor the sixth overall pick. They want Manning to go about his business and for Jones to watch and absorb as much as he can from the 16-year veteran. So consider Tanney the tour guide for Jones on that journey. He’s the one who can tap Jones on the shoulder and tell him: Watch how Eli does this. He’s the one who can stand with Jones behind the line of scrimmage while Manning is under center and point out the defensive shifts.
Manning isn’t ignoring Jones. He gives him a lot of hands-on lessons. But there are times when Manning is busy doing Manning things. That’s when Tanney can make sure Jones notices them and learns from them.
“There are definitely times when Eli is in and we’re standing behind them and either I’ll see something [and point it out] or Daniel will see something and ask about it,” Tanney said. “ ‘Did you see that safety?’ Or ‘Why did he do that?’ Yeah, I try to help as much as I can.”
Said Jones, “Alex is a guy who’s been in the league for a while and knows how it’s supposed to look, knows how you’re supposed to prepare. He’s helped me a lot within that preparation aspect for practice and taught me a few things in how he prepares and what kind of helps him get ready in reviewing the script.”
Tanney, 31, an undrafted free agent in 2012 out of Monmouth (Ill.) College, has been with eight NFL teams. Though he has not taken a regular-season snap since 2015 with the Titans, the Giants brought him back on a two-year contract during the offseason.
There would seem to be a good chance of the Giants carrying three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster this year. Tanney may be the emergency quarterback this season, but his off-field contributions could continue to be significant.
A year ago, his making the team came as a shock. This season, it would be a surprise if he didn’t.
“I’ve always been a fan of his,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur told Newsday. “He’s smart, you watch him and he makes really good throws out here in practice, and he has a veteran presence . . . I just think that at the right positions, having a veteran around really helps.”
Especially one who knows – and accepts – a position that requires very little game action and more behind-the-scenes impact. One who understands that being lower on the depth chart doesn’t mean being lower in significance.One who hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass since 2015 but keeps showing up on NFL rosters.
At some point, Jones will take over Manning’s job, but he already has taken Tanney’s job as No. 2. Jones has taken every second-team snap in training camp.
“Tanney knows his role,” Shurmur said. “He can walk around or he can watch Danny execute and see that this guy is gonna be really good. He knows.”
In other words, he knows that it will take a lot to go wrong for him to play. That’s something no one — not even Tanney himself — is hoping for. If he’s on the field this season, the Giants are in deep, deep trouble.
“I try not to worry about stuff like that,” Tanney, 31, said when asked if he thinks he will ever play in a regular-season game again. “I feel like my role here is to do anything and everything they ask me to do to help us win a Super Bowl. Whether that’s helping Eli, helping Daniel, helping the coaches out, I’m willing and able to do it all.”
That’s a position that doesn’t get a lot of outside attention, but clearly one the Giants see as significant to their success in 2019 . . . and Jones’ success beyond.