Eli Manning has once again found himself the starting quarterback for the New York Giants, after Daniel Jones’ run lasted from a couple weeks into the season to the most recent game where he was injured and taken out of action.
Manning coming in as the top quarterback is less controversial than it was at the beginning of the season – the Giants don’t have the option to play the younger rookie right now, after all. Jones is in a walking boot and bringing him back at all this season would be a pointless risk when the Giants’ path this season is already largely decided.
That doesn’t mean, however, that some of those debates from the early season can’t be settled by the last games of the year. Particularly, the debates about whether or not Manning should have started throughout this season.
Jones brought success for a couple of games and it looked like starting him was an obviously good move, but all of the games after that point, which have been part of a long losing streak, have cast doubts on the choice for some and blurred the lines on whether or not benching Manning was a good decision.
It’s not that anyone expected Manning to lead a miraculous turnaround and for the team to have more wins under him than it does under Jones. In fact, without Jones, the Giants probably would have lost the Tampa game. But there’s an argument to be made that they haven’t gained much with Jones in terms of performance, beyond the first couple of starts.
And the only thing starting Jones has done so far is throw the team’s precious rookie quarterback into an immediately bad situation, one where he’s expected to win with a terrible offensive line, a Saquon Barkley who has struggled after missing time with injury this year, and a number of receiving targets who keep managing to get themselves hurt.
It’s a pretty bad environment for a rookie quarterback to start out in, and the Giants haven’t gained much from throwing Jones to the wolves like this. They still only have a couple of wins. And they still look bad for the way they handled things with Eli Manning, their longtime starter.
Now, Manning is back on the field even after being benched, and he has a chance to show that the Giants benched him too soon and should have kept him around one more season before making a smoother transition in the offseason to Daniel Jones, which would have also allowed Jones to maybe step into a more stable situation – that would depend on just how much the Giants have improved since this season, of course.
There’s not much pressure on Manning. The team is already bad regardless of what happens in the last weeks of the season, and Manning doesn’t enter the season with the pressure of being the season long starter but rather as the backup who spent most of the year on the bench.
So in a way, you could say Manning has the last laugh in all of this. There’s a debate to be had with whether or not the team moved on too soon or not, and Manning has now found himself in a pressure free situation where he can make a statement through his play that he should have seen the field full time this season.