Eli Manning is officially the New York Giants’ starting quarterback once again.
Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo announced the move after Wednesday’s practice, the first since the firing of head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese.
“Eli Manning will be the quarterback for this football team and this game,” Spagnuolo said.
Manning spent Wednesday’s practice taking the first-team reps as the Giants prepare for Sunday’s divisional matchup against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. Geno Smith is expected to return to the backup role while Davis Webb remains the team’s third-stringer.
“I’m excited,” Manning said a week after he was benched for Smith. “I’m excited about the opportunity to play this week, to get back on the field with teammates and go get ready to play the Dallas Cowboys. Played these guys a bunch. Look forward to going out there in our home stadium and getting a win.”
Manning started the first 11 games of this season before being benched for Smith in last week’s 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Spagnuolo made the call to put Manning back in the starting lineup but consulted with co-owner John Mara before doing it.
“What you have to understand is that when I was coaching just the defense, I have blinders on and all I’m worried about is just the defense. I stay in my lane,” Spagnuolo said. “So, I didn’t have my eyes around what was going on on offense, who was playing, none of that. So, I took my gut and visited with the offensive coaches, and together with that and my gut, Eli Manning is going to be our quarterback.”
Spagnuolo said Smith wasn’t happy to return to the backup role but acted professionally. Smith went 21-of-34 for 212 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. He also had two key fumbles. McAdoo said after the game that Smith did nothing to give up the starting role.
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After McAdoo was fired, it was apparent that the Giants were going to go back to Manning as the starter. The benching was met with vitriol by current and former players as well as Giants fans. Three of the team’s final four games are at home. Starting Smith under those circumstances will not play well in the court of public opinion.
There was talk of former Giants players attending Sunday’s game wearing Manning’s No. 10 jersey as a show of support. Former Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said he planned to attend Sunday’s game wearing Manning’s jersey an interview on The Michael Kay Show. However, it is unknown how many players will do so now that Manning’s back as the starter.
Manning started 210 consecutive regular season games before being benched for the Raiders game.
“I just want him (Spagnuolo) to know that I do want to play,” Manning said. “I want to be the starting quarterback. I want to be out there, and just wanted to make sure he knew that. So, he said that he was going to think about it and talk with the coaches, but his gut said I would be the starting quarterback. So happy he went with that decision and he has the faith in me to go win this football game with me as the quarterback.”
Manning has completed 62.5 percent of his passes (247 of 395) for 2,411 yards, 14 touchdowns, and seven interceptions this season. His quarterback rating is 84.1.