When news broke that the New York Giants would be benching Eli Manning for Week 13, most fans had the same reaction. It was a slap in the face to everything Manning helped this franchise build. I had a far different reaction. I personally have no problem with Manning being benched. The fact that Geno Smith is taking over, though, really grinds my gears.
I build up less of an emotional attachment to players than most fans. There is no issue trading away a former star or letting one walk in free agency. Benching a past-his-prime legend for a rebuild plan is okay too. These are smart moves for the franchise a whole. Cold, calculated moves are what Bill Belichick is best known for. He is also the coach every fan base wishes it had. Benching Manning is not a bad move on its own. The bad part is replacing him with Smith.
Smith is in his late 20s and will be a free agent following the season. He hasn’t put together a great stretch of games in his five-year career. There is no feasible set of circumstances in which Geno Smith plays into the long-term plans of the New York Giants. So what is he doing starting Week 13?
Benching Manning is a logical move only if the other half of that transaction benefits the future of the organization. Starting Smith doesn’t even approach that outcome. Even if Smith is great for a month straight to finish out the season, what does that get us? He is not going to be the starting quarterback in 2018. All he will do in such a scenario is play the Giants out of a top three draft pick.
Some highly loyal and optimistic New York fans feel like the move to Smith isn’t stupid, but stupid like a fox. It’s a long con to actually guarantee NY loses out and grabs that top three draft pick. Manning is unquestionably a better player than Smith, so starting the latter would be better for the organization at the beginning of a rebuild.
This would be sneaky indeed, but it simply can’t be true. Ben McAdoo is the one who had final call on this quarterback swap, and the one thing we know for sure is that if the Giants lose out, McAdoo will not be the team’s head coach in ’18. That means he would be heading a plan that benefits the team to his own detriment. Not happening.
McAdoo is being run through the ringer after this decision. A caller on WFAN compared it to the janitor firing the CEO. But, again, benching the supposed CEO isn’t the real issue here. Not starting Davis Webb is what is really wrong with McAdoo’s move.
Webb may not be the future, or maybe he is. We don’t know because the kid has never played. Yet Jerry Reese and the club felt so good about him that they used a third-round draft pick on a third-string QB joining a squad that most folks thought would compete for a division title. You don’t draft guaranteed backups for playoff contenders unless you are very, very high on them for the future. Webb was/is that guy.
Thus, the disconnect between the feelings about what Webb meant to this team and the actions of how he is being treated are incredibly bizarre. Gauging the roster for the future (terms McAdoo used to make sense of the Manning benching) only makes sense if we give the young, potential passer of the future a chance to play. We don’t need to gauge Smith. McAdoo is clueless yet again, and it’s not even for the reason everyone is crushing him.
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