New York Giants: Benching Eli Manning is the right move

The 2017 Giants are going nowhere fast, and they should evaluate every position before 2018.

The New York Giants are the biggest disappointment of2017. They went 11-5 last year, boasting one of the best defenses in the league. They beat the mighty Cowboys twice and looked ready to challenge for the NFC East crown after signing Brandon Marshall and drafting Evan Engram to improve the offense. Unfortunately, it all went to hell by halftime in Week 1.

The defense wasn’t the force it was before, and the offense was even worse. A complete inability to block anyone and then the loss of Odell Beckham grounded the entire unit.

Currently at 2-9, the Giants sit atop only the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, who beat them in Week 10. Head coach Ben McAdoo has been holding onto his job by his fingertips all season, and yesterday he announced that the team would be evaluating the QB position, a result of which would be the odd sight of Eli Manning standing on the sideline while someone else marshalls the Giants offense.

It was immediately a controversial move given Eli’s hero status among fans, but it’s hard not to say it is the right one for the health of the team going forward.

Why it was the right move

The Giants success has long been predicated on being competent and hanging around the playoff picture hoping to get hot. It worked for them in 2007 and again in 2011, but their success has never been a constant in the way that Green Bay’s, New England’s, Seattle’s, or Peyton Manning’s was. This will be Eli’s seventh season with a losing record, that is not something that happens when you have a legitimate All-Pro at quarterback unless the defense is devastatingly bad (I’m looking at you 2014-2016 Saints).

While the narrative of Eli Manning’s career is “210 consecutive starts” and “Beat Brady/Belichick in two Super Bowls”, health is not something that should really be lionized at a position that is among the least physical in the game. Then there is the Super Bowls…

While Manning’s escapology throw to David Tyree and a glorious pass to Mario Manningham will go down in infamy in New England, those games were both about the Giants defense being able to hit and harass Tom Brady on every play. Steve Spagnuolo’s deployment of Justin Tuck over Logan Mankins won Super Bowl XLII, and it was the blueprint for modern defenses. In 2007 no one was kicking edge rushers inside to terrorize guards, but now every team is after an interior rushed. JJ Watt and Aaron Donald are the poster boys for killing quarterbacks, and every team now has packages to isolate traditional defensive ends against guards.

Manning’s longevity and consistency for the Giants should be respected and celebrated by fans of Big Blue, but his position in the pantheon of the unbenchable greats is tenuous at best.

Let’s do a little experiment. Here are the career numbers of four quarterbacks that have all started every game in 2017. Pick out Eli…

Comp. %TD%INT%Yds/AttemptQB Rating
Player A61.
Player B58.
Player C59.
Player D62.

If you said player C was Eli well done. But here is the problem, all four of these quarterbacks are statistically comparable, but the other three are far from good. A is Joe Flacco, B is Blake Bortles, and D is Andy Dalton. All three are players that have been actively lobbied against by fans and pundits, with questions about their place in the league coming up every year.

None of these quarterbacks, if you take away the name and simply look at their rate statistics, deserve to be unquestionably the guy, especially when a full rebuild is on the horizon. Not every quarterback can have the stats of Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but you have to get close if you want the benefit of the doubt late in your career or to get the farewell you feel you deserve. Perennial journeyman Josh McCown has a better career completion percentage than Eli, for goodness sake.

This isn’t someone who, at 37, should be your guy when a rebuild is coming.

Why McAdoo is still wrong

Even though I agree with the decision to look at other options, somehow Ben McAdoo has still managed it screw up. He will be handing the reigns over to none other than Geno Smith, who was last seen absolutely sucking for the New York Jets.

Smith has shown nothing to think that he is the guy for the future of the New York Giants. However, the Giants used a third round pick this year on Davis Webb. The 6’5″ 22-year-old was impressive in his sole year at Cal, throwing 37 touchdowns to 12 interceptions and passing for 4,295 yards. If the Giants really want to see what the future holds then playing Webb would be the way to go.

Maybe Buffalo’s utter failure with Nathan Peterman has scared McAdoo off starting the rookie, but if that is the case then it is just further proof he is unfit to be an NFL head coach.

Eli Manning is not the all-time great he is made out to be by many Giants fans, but starting Geno Smith over him is an insult that he does not deserve. At least pull the trigger on the rookie before you get kicked out of the building in January Ben.

Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?

Toby Durant

Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.


I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.