By Ernie Palladino
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It has come time for Giants backup quarterback Davis Webb to start earning his relative pittance of a rookie contract.
Not that it’s Webb’s fault that he’s lolled inactive the first 14 games of the season. When Ben McAdoo had a chance to do the right thing (sort of) and give the third-round rookie some work in a real game, he big-time blew it. Those residing out of the country at the time probably hadn’t heard the outrage over ending Eli Manning’s 210-game starting streak so McAdoo could get a good look at Geno Smith.
For those unfortunates, a recap:
• Sad quarterback legend
• Fan revolt
• Embarrassed owner
• Summary execution of coach and general manager.
Now, two games into defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s battlefield promotion to interim head coach, he seems prepared to do what should have been done weeks ago — the right way. Wednesday’s practice featured Webb taking the better part of a set of first-unit snaps, setting him up to at least spend the 2-12 Giants’ Christmas Eve as the primary backup in Arizona.
If things break his way, Webb may even see some second-half action. After that, it would not be outrageous for him to get a New Year’s Eve start against Washington at MetLife Stadium as a symbolic hard stop to 2017 and an optimistic look ahead to 2018.
Throwing Webb into the fire with nothing to lose but a couple of meaningless wins would, if nothing else, enable the Giants to get a look at the kid.
Worst case, he winds up being Christian Hackenberg, only with a handful of snaps. In that case, they draft either Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen with the second pick overall and cross their fingers that they’ve found Eli Manning’s successor.
Best case, Webb actually shows some ability. Maybe not winning ability yet, but signs of it.
That would put a little pressure on management to decide whether to gamble on a top quarterback anyway or stick with Webb and either use the No. 2 on another position or trade out of it.
Certainly, the best-case option would lead to much intrigue. That rickety offensive front could use a top-flight tackle or guard. Finding a first-round-worthy linebacker for the first time since Carl Banks in 1984 wouldn’t be a bad thing, either.
Nor would the extra draft picks that come with swapping the No. 2 overall.
Webb’s teammates apparently think he’s got the stuff. He has won their hearts with a strong work ethic, his respectful deference to Manning and his accuracy in practice.
They see the University of California product mimicking their two-time Super Bowl MVP winner’s footwork and throwing motion. They watch him follow Manning all around. They see the index cards that help him memorize and understand the offense.
All he needs now is a chance to play with all the toys.
Or at least the few unbroken ones left in the Giants’ playpen.
It’s up to Spagnuolo to decide if and when Webb gets that opportunity. One thing is for sure: It’s overdue.
It wouldn’t harm any worldly plan to let Webb get the fourth quarter Sunday and follow up with extended time against Washington. He won’t be hurting Manning. McAdoo took care of that when Smith took the first snap Dec. 3 in Oakland.
It might cost them a chance at a couple of wins. But at this point, it’s better to get the higher draft pick.
Meanwhile, the decision makers would have some film on Webb. If he looks good enough, he could render the long-assumed choice between Darnold and Rosen moot.
It might present a headache in the scouting department. But what a nice headache to have.
Webb can do himself and the organization a lot of good. He just needs a chance.
It’s up to Spagnuolo to make it a happy Christmas Eve for the rookie and a productive one for the franchise.
Throw Webb in there.
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