Eli Manning made it clear — just in case there are any misconceptions over how he feels about being the New York Giants starting quarterback.
“I want to play,” Manning said Tuesday. “That’s what I like to do. I like to play football and play quarterback.”
Manning has heard the growing discussion about whether the Giants should bench their 36-year-old, two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and take a look at rookie Davis Webb. The Giants are 1-7 and won’t make the playoffs this season, and Manning has been no better than mediocre, completing 63.2 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.
While confirming Manning would start Sunday’s game against the 49ers, head coach Ben McAdoo on Monday added, “but that doesn’t mean at some point in time we won’t throw another guy in there to get a look at him.”
For starters, the Giants should never ever force Manning to voluntarily end his incredible streak of consecutive starts. He’ll make his 208th straight against the 49ers, tying older brother Peyton for second place all-time behind Brett Favre. The streak means something to Manning and should never been interrupted simply to take a look at another quarterback.
“I’m happy to be out there each and every week with my teammates,” Manning said. “It’s a goal of mine to stay healthy and play through injuries and be accountable. It’s important for me to be there for my team. It’s not about breaking a record.”
The Giants aren’t going anywhere because their offensive linemen haven’t played well, the defense isn’t nearly as good as it was last year and injuries have decimated the roster. Replacing Manning with Webb isn’t going to change any of that. Putting the third-round draft pick from California in at this stage might actually do more harm than good should he be buried under a barrage of sacks, turnovers and ruined reps.
Manning, in his 14th season, has not played well this year. He was quick to rid himself of the ball in earlier games and is now missing receivers when there are opportunities to make plays. But Manning deserves the benefit of the doubt. He has two Super Bowl rings; he carries himself with class; and he is the face of the franchise. All of that earns him the chance to make something of this mess.
If there are more blowouts like the Rams’ 51-17 destruction of the Giants last Sunday at MetLife Stadium, then Webb or Geno Smith can enter late in games and get their reps. But Manning deserves to continue starting because he’s still being paid to be the Giants starting quarterback. He’s not in denial about the way things have gone this year. He has been through the highs and lows before.
“I understand that I’ve got a job to do and I’ve got to it better and do it well and get better and get wins,” he said. “If you don’t, everybody’s job is up for grabs.”
Asked if he understood all the chatter over whether he should be benched, Manning offered a one-word answer that dripped with sarcasm: “Sure,” he said.
Manning tried to talk up the positives from the Giants’ worst home loss in 19 years. He didn’t mention becoming the seventh quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 50,000 yards. He did point out the 111 yards rushing and converting 8-of-16 in third-down situations. The turnovers — two lost fumbles (one his) and one interception — were critical.
“We had drops and different things that keep you out of good down and distance,” Manning said. “We’ve got to play our game and be where we need to be and make the plays that are there.”
Manning wants to be the quarterback to do that.
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