You would have thought rock bottom was 0-5. Or maybe rock bottom was losing to the winless 49ers. Or maybe it was benching three defensive starters in what smelled an awful lot like a full-blown locker room meltdown.
But it wasn’t. Instead, rock bottom was something far worse – something no Giants fan could have imagined. As it turned out, rock bottom was benching a 2-time Super Bowl MVP with 210 consecutive starts for a man who couldn’t cut it with the Jets.
Rock bottom was disrespecting an icon of the franchise so talent evaluators who haven’t been good at evaluating talent can evaluate the talent of a quarterback who credible talent evaluators know is without talent.
The New York Giants’ season is over. It has been for weeks. And in a season like this one, with a high draft pick coming to them in a quarterback-heavy draft, a quarterback change isn’t a surprise. In fact, a quarterback change is responsible. The Giants had no other choice than to sit Eli Manning and decide if the quarterback of the future was on their roster.
But that quarterback is not Geno Smith. And it never has been.
In Geno Smith’s best record as a professional, he threw 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. And his team went 3-10. Whatever hope there may have been for his career has long since been lost to the black hole of quarterback play that is Rex Ryan’s coaching. The jury is back, the decision is in, and the verdict is clear. Geno Smith is not the future of the Giants.
And, if we’re being level-headed, the future of the Giants should still be a few years away.
In 2016, the bulk of the 2017 Giants went 11-5 and made the playoffs. The talent that took that team into January football is still roaming the Meadowlands, and much of it will still be there in 2018. And Eli Manning should be, too. Because while the 14-year veteran hasn’t been his best self in this lost year, he still represents the team’s best option at quarterback next fall – when his top three receivers aren’t injured and when, perhaps, his general manager shucks tradition and makes needed improvements to the oft-problematic linebacking and offensive line corps.
Quoted Tuesday on the decision, GM Jerry Reese, said “This is not a statement about anything other than we are 2-9,” throwing that anchor of a record at the feet of the quarterback that built his career, desperately hoping that it will catch hold anywhere but around his own neck.
Because make no mistake, the 2-9 record is not Eli Manning’s fault. It’s Jerry Reese’s fault, and it’s Ben McAdoo’s fault. It’s the fault of the general manager that failed to address the offensive line problems that plagued the Giants all last season, and hasn’t made an upgrade at linebacker since Antonio Pierce. And it’s the fault of a coach who has spent more time slicking back his hair than he has on game plans and locker room chemistry.
It’s the fault of the man who scapegoated Eli Manning’s two-time Super Bowl winning coach and the man who was brought in to replace him.
And they should be ashamed.
And so should the entire franchise.
For 14 years, Eli Manning played professional sports’ toughest position in the toughest city in the world, and did so with class and poise. And he won two Super Bowl rings. He deserved better than this.
He deserved better than the Giants.
Author: Joseph White
Joe Bianchino is a writer, producer, and radio host located in upstate New York. He is a life-long New York sport fan, Chelsea supporter, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBNTS. Email him at Joe@noticketsports.com.