When the Giants next take the field, Eli Manning will be their starting quarterback.
For many years, that was never in question. Lately, though, it’s become less certain. Coming off a humiliating and ineffective loss to the Eagles on Thursday that dropped the Giants to a 1-5 record, and with a long weekend to consider other options before the Oct. 22 game in Atlanta, this might have been an opportunity for the Giants to make a change at the position.
The last time the Giants played a Thursday game and had a few extra days off, they came back to work with such an adjustment.
Pat Shurmur, though, said on Friday that any consideration about benching Manning will not be on his table this weekend.
“No,” he said. “We believe in Eli.”
The group that joins him appears to be dwindling.
While there are other issues at play in the Giants’ disappointing season, Manning, once the face of the franchise, has become the face of the frustration. Many outside — and, according to an ESPN report, a few inside — have seen enough of the 37-year-old passer. They’re ready to move on. Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, but his Giants have not had a winning record at this point in a season, through Week 6, since 2012. The past two years the Giants have started 1-5.
Manning undoubtedly hears the drumbeat for him to be replaced, but said it doesn’t bother him. “Being 1-5 bothers me,” he said on Friday.
As for his level of confidence, he said it is “always the same.”
“I know I can play better,” Manning said. “I didn’t play well (Thursday) night. I have to make better decisions and get back to just doing my job, not trying to force things.”
If the Giants’ season continues its downward trajectory, though, the coaching staff may very well start plotting out soft landing spots to get quarterback Kyle Lauletta some playing time. The franchise undoubtedly will not make the same mistake it did last year in going through an entire season without taking a look at what their rookie quarterback is capable of, even in strenuous circumstances.
Lauletta has never been active for a game — veteran Alex Tanney is the gameday backup — but Shurmur said the Giants are spending time in practices getting Lauletta up to speed.
“Because he’s not active on game day, naturally it feels like he’s third, but during the week he gets as many reps as Alex does,” Shurmur said. “We’re developing him behind the scenes just like we do with any rookie. Aside from putting him in the game, he’s getting all the work that he can get.”
“Eli is the guy,” Lauletta said, noting that the calls for him to play “doesn’t really change anything I do.”
At some point, it might. At some point Shurmur might have to increase Lauletta’s workload. Perhaps even to the point of making a change with the first unit. The Giants have a bye in Week 9 after their next two games. If the Giants are 1-7 at that point, it could be another opportunity to make a switch.
Right now, though, it’s not something Shurmur is entertaining.
“Listen,” he said, “we’re not talking about a quarterback change here.”
But that doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t happening without him.