Manning Starting Makes Little Sense; McCown Injury Prevents Jets From Making A Similar Mistake

By Ernie Palladino
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Unlike the Giants, the Jets probably won’t be in a position to draft a top quarterback in April.

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And yet, the Jets (5-8) are going to know more about what they have behind their starter than the Giants (2-11), who really, really needs more than a passing glance at their third-round backup, Davis Webb.

If that’s not the irony to top a New York season full of it, then go find a bigger one that hasn’t yet happened.

Davis Webb

Giants quarterback Davis Webb (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

It’s tough enough to top a recent past low-light like the benching of Eli Manning for, of all people, Geno Smith. Sitting the two-time Super Bowl MVP down for Webb would have placated a lot of fans who nearly revolted at the mention of Smith’s name, not to mention his Jets lineage.

But now, the guy who took over for the fired Ben McAdoo has not only proclaimed Manning as the permanent starter, but added that he sees no reason to award Webb his first game day uniform. Forget about giving him meaningful snaps. Steve Spagnuolo won’t even activate Webb this week against Philadelphia, and will likely leave him inactive for the games against Arizona and Washington.

So much for evaluating the real issue of whether or not the organization has any use at all for Webb. But, hey, at least they got a look at Smith, a longshot in any scenario to return to the Giants’ sideline next season.

Meanwhile, the Jets will now get a binder full of info on Bryce Petty. He is starting because Josh McCown is done for the rest of the season with a broken left hand. And unless Petty gets hurt, he’ll probably take every snap of these final three games while Hackenberg continues with a second snapless season.

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Petty, of course, would have held the second most important spot in general manager Mike Maccagnan’s scouting folder had everything gone as predicted back in the spring. Creating a real-time dossier on Hackenberg might have been a priority had the Jets followed a script and won one or two games.

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Instead, those crazy ad-libbers went and won enough to remove themselves from the Sam Darnold-Josh Rosen sweepstakes. With the quarterback issue likely pushed off to a later round, winning as many games as possible takes priority over evaluation.

The worst thing is that if McAdoo had handled the Manning situation right in the first place, the Ginats could have slipped in Webb and collected all the information they needed. But McAdoo created such a public relations nightmare that the only way to recover from it is to throw the process out the window entirely.

From here on out, Manning starts. And as long as Nick Foles, Blaine Gabbert, or Kirk Cousins don’t put up a 40-spot against the first-half defense, he will stay in to try to win each game.

An injury might change that, of course, but only the most hard-hearted would wish that on Manning, a guy who rose from each of the numerous hits he’s taken behind that leaky line, only to be repaid by the humiliation of a benching from a tone-deaf coach.

He’s taken enough. Leave him alone.

But one can’t avoid the irony. Petty, a fourth-round selection who did nothing in four starts last year to prove he deserves a future with the Jets, has a shot to prove he’s worthy of a starting job in 2018. Webb, a third-round rookie the Giants sorely need to see as they approach their highest draft position since 1981 when Lawrence Taylor came at No. 2, sits.

Like Hackenberg, Webb probably won’t take a snap this season.

But at least Hackenberg will do his sideline wandering in uniform these last three games.

Webb, a victim of ironic circumstances, can’t say the same.

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