By Jason Keidel
» More Columns
According to a report, the Giants are keeping the most prized and productive quarterback in franchise history for at least one more year.
It is the right decision.
SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano said newly minted general Dave Gettleman met with Eli Manning and that the two-time Super Bowl MVP will be under center in 2018, well after the club drafts and and begins to groom his replacement.
That same report said new head coach Pat Shurmur told the Giants’ powers that be during his interview that he, too, wanted Manning to lead Big Blue for at least one more season.
Everyone with a vital voice within the organization agrees the next franchise quarterback, be it a top-level guy like a Josh Rosen or perhaps a Lamar Jackson from the next tier, will need to tote a clipboard for a year and learn from Manning. Big Blue will deal with 2019 when it arrives.
Unless you’re assured that the Giants will draft the next DeShaun Watson, Manning is the obvious choice to start, lead, and finish the 2018 season. Unless Tom Coughlin comes up with a most delicious package of picks and players to bag his most prized pupil and bring him to Jacksonville, Eli ain’t goin’ nowhere.
First, the natives love him. Manning is embedded in the hearts of Big Blue fans forever. Second, he’s earned the right to stay due to two scintillating Super Bowl victories. He’s the only man to beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, and he did it twice. Third, you likely won’t have anyone of Manning’s talent or timbre in the pipeline, certainly not to assume the snaps by September.
Even though the Giants had a calamitous 2017, which came apart before Halloween and ended with an eyesore of a record, there’s something heartwarming about this time of year for Big Blue devotees. Though the Giants never competed for a playoff spot this season, just seeing the Patriots reach their eighth Super Bowl under Bill Belichick reminds the MetLife faithful that their team and Eli, in particular, are the only reasons why Brady will enter Super Bowl LII with a 5-2 record, instead of 7-0.
New England’s 18-0 juggernaut in 2007 was rolled by a 10-6 squad. The Pats that season had outscored their opponents in the regular season by 315 points. The Giants outscored theirs by 22. Fast forward four years, and the Pats, a typical 13-3 after bashing their foes by a total of 171 points, again lost to the Giants, who were only 9-7 and were actually outscored by six points over 16 games.
Both games were either defined or remembered by a single throw by Manning. He is the Patriots’ Kryptonite. And Manning played quite well in the games leading up to those two Super Bowls, as well. Maybe he hasn’t won every playoff game he’s ever played in, but he went 8-0 over those two seasons and put himself in line for a bronze bust in Canton.
All that gives Manning a mulligan for 2017. Not that he played poorly. He had a decent season on an injury-ravaged team, throwing for 3,468 yards, 19 TDs and 13 INTs, while completing 61.6 percent of his passes. Does that sound like the stuff of a starting QB on a 3-13 team?
Sure, the Giants need significant work and no one expects them to tweak, retool, or reload their roster into Super Bowl form over the next six months. But it’s not obscene or absurd to expect this club, which was 11-5 just 13 months ago, to be way better than 3-13.
Indeed, December contention and even 10 wins is not a fantasy. It’s a good goal. And the best way to turn this tanker around is to keep the captain that has been known to conquer rough waters.
Please follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel