The New York Giants pride themselves on being one of the most stable franchises in the National Football League.
They tend to use phrases like “doing things the right way” when describing their play on the field and conduct off it. It is this grandiose sense of self that makes the way the team handled the benching of quarterback Eli Manning all the more reprehensible.
This is just the latest example of the Giants’ conduct that contradicts the image it seeks to present to the world. Headlines were made for all the wrong reasons when the team re-signed kicker Josh Brown despite knowing of domestic violence incidents involving his ex-wife.
Once Brown’s indiscretions were on Front Street, the Giants ownership attempted to distance itself from him as quickly as possible. No amount of spin took away from the fact that the team made a huge mistake in re-signing Brown that came back to bite them hard.
The Manning situation is complicated to say the least. On one hand, the Giants have a right to want to see Geno Smith and Davis Webb in a regular season game. At the same time, to suggest that the Giants have a better chance at winning with Smith or Webb than with Manning is ludicrous.
Manning’s benching is a continuation of the Blame Game that has existed for his entire Giants tenure. It is too easy to look at the Giants’ 2-9 record and put the blame solely on the quarterback. This isn’t to say Manning doesn’t have a part in this miserable season. His play, at times, has been below the standards one would expect from a two-time Super Bowl champion.
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The Giants coaching staff, management, and ownership all get a pass by virtue of Manning’s benching. Once again, No. 10 placed everything square on his shoulders.
Manning, however, has nothing to do with Ben McAdoo’s shortcomings as a head coach. McAdoo is looking more and more like Ray Handley with each passing game. Last season’s 11-5 playoff run might as well have happened 50 years ago. Putting in Geno Smith will not make McAdoo a better coach. If anything, this exposes more and more of his flaws.
It’s not Manning’s fault that general manager Jerry Reese failed to address the team’s biggest weakness: the offensive line. Reese got a pass because he hit a home run in free agency and solidified the defense before last season. The Giants made no real attempts to shore up the offensive line and it has come back to haunt them in the form of being the NFL’s 31st ranked offense.
Manning also isn’t responsible for the questionable leadership of the Giants’ owners. They should have known they weren’t just going to be able to have Smith start with some backlash from the fans. This makes the ownership look reactive rather than pro-active.
Coaching, management, and ownership deserve as much blame for the Giants’ 2-9 season as Manning, if not more. Smith starting against the Oakland Raiders with Manning as his understudy cannot change that.
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