Many precincts among Giants fans have been weighing in for months.
The overwhelming verdict is this: No more Eli.
For many Giants fans (you know who you are), the thought of Eli Manning starting in 2019 is as popular as finding coal in your Christmas stocking.
What happens with Manning and the Giants’ starting quarterback position next season is up for debate — even though it shouldn’t be based on the way he has performed this season, which is good enough to stay on for another year.
What is not in question is who will start in Sunday’s season finale at MetLife Stadium.
When Giants coach Pat Shurmur was asked Monday if Manning was going to be his starter against the Cowboys on Sunday, he said, “Yes he is.’’
When asked if rookie Kyle Lauletta, who was on the inactive list for Sunday’s game in Indianapolis, would be active as the backup for the Cowboys game, Shurmur gave his best non-answer when he said, “We’ll just have to see what the week brings.’’
For those Giants fans who have seen enough of Manning after 15 seasons, six playoff berths and two Super Bowl titles, the question you have to ask yourself as you look forward to 2019 is this: What’s the better alternative?
There are no sure-bet quarterbacks believed to be coming out of the draft in the spring the way there were last April.
Is there another veteran quarterback to be signed or traded for that you think will be a better option than Manning in 2019?
It’s difficult to imagine the Eagles letting Nick Foles go with the injury history of starter Carson Wentz, who has failed to finish either of the last two seasons. Saints coach Sean Payton is believed to be smitten with Teddy Bridgewater. And who’s to say either of those two players would be a better option than Manning?
Do you want Joe Flacco if the Ravens deem him expendable with the emergence of rookie Lamar Jackson? How about Ryan Tannehill, who might be run out of South Florida by fed-up Dolphins fans?
Geno Smith, Part Deux?
No, no and no.
Do you believe in Lauletta after what you saw from him in garbage-time mop-up duty against the Redskins three weeks ago? Of course not.
Shurmur throws support for Eli Manning: 'Years' left as starter
The Giants do not want to look ahead just yet,…
Manning is going to be the Giants’ best option going forward — until the franchise finds its Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield. Finds its next Manning.
Sure, to borrow from former Giants coach Bill Parcells, you are what your record says you are. And Manning is 5-10 this season after going 3-12 in 2017.
But he’s two years removed from going 11-5 and taking the Giants to the playoffs. He is on pace to achieve a career-high in completion percentage, currently at 66.5 percent. He’s on pace to finish with 4,265 passing yards, which would be the fourth most of his career.
Though his pace for 20 touchdown passes would be the third lowest of his career, his pace of 11 interceptions would be his second lowest. If he finishes with his current 92.7 passer rating it would be his fourth highest.
All this by the way, while being sacked a career-high 49 times if this pace continues through Sunday.
Just stats, you might argue. Yes, stats don’t tell the entire story. But they tell part of it, and they’re pretty good, better than a lot of other quarterbacks around the league.
Manning, like the rest of the team, has gotten better since the Achilles’ heel offensive line started playing with some cohesion, helped with the acquisition of guard Jamon Brown.
We’ve all heard the various arguments against Manning:
- He’s immobile. Well, he’s been immobile for 15 years, including those two when he won Super Bowl MVP.
- Everything has to be perfect around him. Well, other than the quarterbacks who play in Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers), Kansas City (Patrick Mahomes) and maybe New Orleans (Drew Brees), name the quarterbacks in the NFL who thrive without good protection. The list is not a long one.
“I think Eli has been doing some really good things,’’ Shurmur said Monday. “We as a team — and I think it’s fair to say about the quarterback — we’re real close [to being a winning team].’’
The Giants are 4-3 since the 1-7 start. That stretch includes a 25-22 loss at Philadelphia and Sunday’s 28-27 heartbreaker at Indianapolis.
“We’ve been in a handful of these [close games] this season and we’ve won a couple and we’ve let a couple get away from us,’’ Shurmur said. “As the team, as we start building, as the players get better, as we improve and understand how to play situation better, eventually this thing pushes over the top.’’
It’s difficult to imagine, given the alternative options that figure to be available between now and next season, that Manning won’t be a part of that process for another year.
So don’t figure on Sunday at MetLife being any sort of farewell for Manning if that’s what you thought or hoped it might be.