While Eli Manning hasn’t quite had a season to remember for the New York Giants, it isn’t time just yet to call on Davis Webb.
When we opened the 2017-18 NFL season, a quarterback controversy in the Tri-State area seemed inevitable, especially with young Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty chasing veteran journeyman Josh McCown over in New York Jets camp.
Turns out, the controversy has taken on a shade of blue rather than green.
Off to their worst start since 2013, speculation has permeated throughout the week that the New York Giants would spare long-time signal-caller Eli Manning from further humiliation at some point this season and insert rookie Davis Webb, their third-round selection in last spring’s draft.
Don’t pick up Webb for your fantasy team just yet, warns Ben McAdoo.
In a Monday conference call, McAdoo reiterated the team’s dedication to Manning, who has been the Giants starting quarterback for the last 218 games, including the playoffs.
“It’s not to that point, and I don’t see that point coming,” McAdoo said. “Eli’s our quarterback. I have 100 percent confidence in Eli. We’re going to get a week away from it and we’re going to come back fresh mind, fresh bodies and play better football.”
McAdoo later stated that a possible quarterback change would not only be his decision, as he would need approval from higher-ups as well.
“It’s a coaching decision, but it’s something that if it ever were to get to that point, I’d want to have a conversation with Jerry and ownership on it,” McAdoo explained. He added that “(Webb is) a young player who works hard at it, the fundamentals. (He) helps Eli prepare for the games each and every week and he’s a gym rat.”
In a rare in-season appearance, Giants General Manager and Senior Vice President Jerry Reese seemingly shot down chances that Webb would appear in a regular season game soon, citing his belief that the Giants can still right the ship in time for the postseason.
“At some point (we will look at Webb), but when is that some point?” Reese said before answering his own question with “It’s not right now because we’re going to fight with everything we have with these nine games left and hopefully we can turn our season around.”
Manning, 36, took over the Giants’ starting job as a rookie from Hall of Famer Kurt Warner in November 2004 and hasn’t looked back since. His name now appears frequently in both the Giants’ and NFL record books, as he leads all Giants quarterbacks in yards (49,814), touchdown passes (330) and wins (109). He ranks seventh all-time in NFL history in the former two categories.
Manning set another Giants’ milestone during last Sunday’s 24-7 loss to Seattle, as he partook in his 208th game as a member of the Giants, passing former tight end Howard Cross. Michael Strahan leads the way at 216.
While it’s nowhere near his best season, Manning has been a rare silver lining for the Giants this season while passing for 1,600 yards, good for 12th in the league, and 10 touchdowns, tied for seventh with McCown and Jameis Winston.
Manning, however, has refused to focus on his personal positives, insisting that he needs to be better.
“I can still play at a high level and can get this offense going and do better than what we’re doing,” Manning said on Tuesday. “I got to play better. So, I’m going to worry about my job (which is) going out there and playing at a high level.”
Webb, 22, made headlines last college football season when he resurrected his career at Cal-Berkeley after being usurped by future first-round pick Patrick Mahomes for Texas Tech’s starting job. After his transfer, Webb ranked sixth in the nation in passing yards (4,295), fourth in completions (382) and eighth in touchdowns (37).
Since Manning’s arrival, Webb is the highest the Giants have gone at quarterback. He’s the fourth quarterback the Giants have taken since 2004. Of the previous three, only Ryan Nassib (fourth-round selection in 2013) took snaps with the Giants, or in the NFL in general. Webb has not dressed for any of the Giants’ seven games thus far and is currently listed as third on the depth chart behind Geno Smith.
Webb acknowledged that his rookie season would likely be a de facto “redshirt” season during preseason workouts, also expressing an eagerness to work with Manning, a two-time Super Bowl champion and MVP.
“I’m just going to be myself and obviously he is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play this game, so I want to be a sponge around him,” Webb said during rookie minicamp in May. “I don’t want to nag him and be that little rookie, but at the same time, if I have a question that can be asked, I’m going to ask it. Whenever he’s just doing stuff, taking 7-on-7, taking mental notes and (I’m) trying to put his game to mind and (trying) to get better.”
Adding to the requests to see Webb is the fact that the 2018 draft, in which the Giants will undoubtedly have a high pick, boasts several highly touted quarterback prospects. Though USC’s Sam Darnold has indicated he will likely return to Los Angeles, the class is expected to include UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.