We know, we know. It’s been awhile since we’ve posted. You could chalk it up to the general football apathy that is barely sweeping the country, or The Machine’s first two picks in our fantasy draft (Odell Beckham and Zeke Elliott) casting a dark cloud over this season (still gonna make the playoffs in that league though, thanks to some savage waiver wire pickups that we arguably should’ve been passing on to you…thanks again, Alvin Kamara).
Whatever the reason, at approximately 3:32 pm today, The Machine got woke, when we saw the following headlines (followed by an onslaught of texts and tears): New York Giants Bench Eli Manning; Geno Smith to Start on Sunday. Oh, we’re woke AF now.
Are you fucking kidding me? Bench Eli? Make no mistake: The Giant’s season has been an absolute shit show. At 2-9, they are going nowhere. But Eli Manning is the last player on that team to blame. This is nothing more than a desperate move by a head coach and GM to save their jobs, and improve their chances at a higher draft pick (we’ll get to the draft in a second). Think about it: You’re telling me that Geno Smith gives you the best chance to win on Sunday, over Eli Manning, two-time Super Bowl winner and two-time Super Bowl MVP? Geno Smith, the same guy that got his jaw broken by his own teammate? And I thought the Bills decision to bench Tyrod was dumb (and it was). This is far worse, and will go down as one of the worst decisions after made on a football field.
Don’t be fooled. The Giants (and ownership is in on this too) are making Eli the scapegoat. They’re throwing him under the bus because they know they can. Because Eli is too humble and good-natured to play dirty and tell them to fuck off. They want you to believe it’s an aging Eli that caused this season to collapse. But that’s total bullshit. The reason this season (and next season) will collapse, and the reason the Giants have missed the playoffs 5 out of the last 6 years, is because of an organizational failure to draft players and build a team.
The Giants have wasted the last 5 years of Eli’s career, while he’s done nothing but go out there every day, without complaint, and do his job. The Giants should build this team around him. Literally. He is, at best, a severely immobile quarterback. You’d think then, that the smart/right/glaringly fucking obvious thing to do would be to build an offensive line that would protect him. Give him that pocket, and time, he needs to throw, and be able to run block to keep defenses honest. You build your team (and offense line) in the draft, and, when done right, it gives your offense the foundation to succeed (see Dallas Cowboys). And this is where the Giants front office has failed miserably.
The core of any team should be guys in years 4 through 7. Players that have played through their rookie contract and are rounding into their primes. That’s how championship teams are built. Draft first, then supplement as needed through free agency. Anyway, let’s look and see how the “core” of the Giants are doing. Between 2010 and 2013, the Giants drafted a total of 29 players. Care to guess how many of those players are still on the team? 2. Yes, two, and one of them has a lobster claw for a hand. Seriously, here they are:
2010 – 1 (JPP)
2011 – 0
2012 – 0
2013 – 1 (Pugh)
That’s it. What should be the core of this team is non-existent. Jerry Reese and co. failed time after time. Several of those players aren’t even in the league anymore. The only constant during this time, and the prior 210 games, has been Eli Manning. Dependable, tough, professional. He gave the Giants constant stability at the most important position. He has started every single game since his career began in 2004, second only to Brett Farve in most consecutive starts. And he delivered (twice) on the largest stage, beating the unbeatable Patriots (twice).
Many people try to discredit Eli’s contributions to those Super Bowl winning teams, pointing to how great the defenses were, or how “lucky” Eli got. That’s all revisionist history. Don’t forget: the Giants were double digit underdogs in both those Super Bowls. Their defense was good, but not great, and sorry, luck may get you one Super Bowl, but it ain’t getting you two. Eli stepped up his game when it mattered most.
Perhaps the best quality about him is his unassuming nature, and unflappable resolve. Could you imagine if the Giants didn’t make the trade to get Eli in 2004, and instead stayed with Phillip Rivers? Do you think for a second Rivers would survive in New York? Under the constant pressure in the biggest market? Puh-lease. Rivers barely withstood the “tough” San Diego journalists, while throwing tantrums on the sidelines and shit-talking the other team. Eli? Not a chance. He always rose above the pettiness. Never got too high when things were good, and never got too low when things were bad. That’s what you want from your starting quarterback.
Point is: you don’t do this to someone like Eli Manning. If you’re going to move on from him, you do it with the same dignity and grace that he gave you his entire career. Wait until the season’s over, and then mutually part ways. Apparently, McAdoo offered Eli the chance to start, and then get replaced, in order to keep the streak alive. Manning declined, saying, “My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them. Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak.” Class act.
This is just a complete slap in the face. Clearly, Geno Smith is not the future of this franchise, so why do this now? It makes absolutely no sense. It has completely enraged the fan base. It has completely enraged former players. People are calling for McAdoo (and Reese, who honestly should’ve been let go when Tom Coughlin was unceremoniously shown the door) to get fired, but I’m here to tell you that McAdoo won’t get fired. Reese, on the other hand, should get the boot. He can no longer live on the fumes of his one good draft (’07). And drafting Odell Beckham means squat if no one has time to throw him the ball.
So with the entire fanbase up in arms, former players upset, and Mike Francesa definitely pissed, how is it possible that McAdoo stays? He just benched the greatest New York Giant of all time (not named LT). Of course he’s going to get fired…unless [affixes tinfoil hat] he did this to save his job. Here me out. Obviously, this decision wasn’t made without input from the Mara family. Parting with Eli was bound to happen, and it was always going to be somewhat messy. So what if ownership found a way to make this unpopular decision without taking any blame. What if they told McAdoo that, we’ll keep you around for next year, but you have to take the heat for getting rid of Eli. That can’t be on us. The tradeoff is you get to keep your multi-million dollar job, and if you do well next year, the fickle fans will let bygones be bygones.
And let’s be honest, as much as I hate to type it: Eli’s played his last game for the Giants. There’s no way to come back from this. The Giants are now officially in Suck for Sam mode, and whatever qb they select with their (likely) top 3 pick is going to start immediately, or they’ll have some schlep start (ahem, Geno Smith), who will be pulled for the new guy. Eli should waive his no trade clause and head south to Jacksonville (darkhorse: Denver) and finish out his career with Tom Coughlin. Two guys with class, dignity, and two Super Bowl rings.
As for the Giants, they just kicked a Hall of Fame quarterback (don’t even try to debate me on that shit) to the curb. For Geno Smith. They get exactly what they deserve.
Enjoy your teabag.