By Jason Keidel
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We know that in pro sports when a team loses with any frequency and ignominy that virtually no job is safe. Particularly in pro football, which lives by the NFL’s haunting acronym, Not For Long.
But some jobs are fireproof. Or fire proof.
Like the best offensive player in franchise history, the greatest quarterback in franchise history and the only Giant to win two Super Bowls and the MVP of both games. That would be Eli Manning, of course, and his losing club is plunging into the Meadowlands swamp. And his boss has threatened to fire anyone.
It’s not your job, Coach. You don’t have the cachet, the experience, the gravitas to bench someone who’s been there a decade longer than you have. When you’re a neophyte trying to save your job. When you have leaks all over the club that will surely sink the ship long before Manning will.
Maybe McAdoo was having a moment. He was sifting through the wreckage of a 51-17 drubbing, at home, to the Rams, a team for which Big Blue had two weeks to prepare. In perhaps the worst postgame presser in NFL history, McAdoo was asked what he told the team at halftime, and he couldn’t summon a single word for the media. Then he declared no job was safe. No job. As in even the future Hall of Fame quarterback, who had just broke the 50,000-yard passing mark for his career.
At least Mike Ditka, Dennis Green and the gaggle of head coaches who lost their minds shortly after games knew what they wanted to say. It just wasn’t fit for family programming. McAdoo looked like the task was too epic for him. He seemed shocked or stunned or comatose moments after the Rams disaster. It speaks to awareness, to programming, to not being up to the moment.
Did anyone think the Giants would get better after Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall were shelved for the season? Was Manning supposed to get better? Did anyone confuse him for Aaron Rodgers? Rodgers, my pick as the most gifted QB in NFL history, is the only living signal-caller who can literally carry an entire team on his blessed right arm. You can see how inept his Packers have looked since Rodgers broke his collarbone.
In fact, Manning’s performance hasn’t really wavered despite the biblical plague of injuries, the high-school-quality of his offensive line and zero running game. Manning has completed 62.3 percent of his passes, higher than his career average. If he duplicates the first half of the season over the next eight games, he will toss 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, about the Manning median. In fact, 12 picks would be a microscopic number for Manning. His 227.5 passing yards per game are only 13 yards under his normal total. And his 6.1 yards per attempt is less than a yard under his career average of 7.0.
McAdoo can’t bench the only player who plays every snap, has no excuses, complaints or problems. Threatening to bench the entire team speaks to childishness or a lesser form of immaturity. It’s standard coaching fare to say no job is safe during training camp, as that’s the whole point of preparing all summer. But by the time you break the huddle on the season, you go with what you’ve got, save a trade or two, or perhaps a practice squad signing. The Giants are what they are now, as wretched as that might be.
Of course, the Giants’ head coach just moonwalked from his petulant presser by asserting Tuesday that “of course” Manning is still his quarterback. Indeed. Someone got to him, or he slapped himself to his senses. If there’s any way McAdoo can survive this lost season, he needs to win a few games. and the best way to do that is with Mr. Manning under center.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel