Daniel Jones
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Although the Eli Manning era was filled with tremendous moments, it was time for the New York Giants to hand the keys to Daniel Jones.

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—In the NFL, if a team isn’t contending for a playoff spot, developing young players and building for the future must be the objective.

After starting 0-2 for the third consecutive season, and being outscored 63 to 31 in those two games, it was painfully obvious that the New York Giants are not a playoff team.

After all, the Giants are 8-26 over their last 34 games, and nobody could realistically expect them to rip off a lengthy winning streak.

So on Wednesday, head coach Pat Shurmur and Giants brass made the decision to bench the most prolific passer in the history of the franchise—Eli Manning. Starting duties are going to rookie Daniel Jones this Sunday against the (1-1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

Jones will be the 14th quarterback since the 1970 merger to start his first NFL game in a Giants uniform.

It became obvious after Sunday’s 28-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills that the only way the Giants were going to make the 2019 season relevant would be giving Jones as much playing time as possible. For better or worse, Jones is the future of the franchise.

Shurmur spoke on Tuesday about the switch at quarterback.

“Eli and I spoke this morning, and I told him that we are making a change and going with Daniel as the starter,” Shurmur said. “I also talked to Daniel. Eli was obviously disappointed, as you would expect, but he said he would be what he has always been, a good teammate, and continue to prepare to help this team win games.

“Daniel understands the challenge at hand, and he will be ready to play on Sunday.”

New York Giants

Jones will surely make some rookie mistakes, but his mobility will add a new dynamic to the offense.

It’s impossible to saddle Manning with all the blame for the Giants’ 0-2 start and their woes over the last few seasons. But with him in the last year of his contract and a team going nowhere fast, it didn’t make sense to keep playing Manning when you invested a sixth overall pick in Jones.

Ideally, some would say it would be best to have a rookie quarterback make their first NFL start at home so they won’t have to deal with crowd noise. But if you’re going to be a quarterback in the NFL you’re going to have to deal with adversity. Growing pains for Jones may be tough to watch right now, but he’ll be a better quarterback in the long run for dealing with the adversity.

As for Manning, of course, it’s not the ending that he wanted. Fairytale endings like Michael Strahan and John Elway experienced are few and far between.

In the two games he played this season, Manning completed 56 of 89 passes for 556 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 78.7. But the Giants have scored only four touchdowns, despite averaging 420.0 yards a game.

This is obviously a hard time for Manning, but nothing that’s happened over the last few seasons can take away the glorious moments he delivered for the franchise.

While his regular-season record sits at 116-116, his legacy will be remembered for his 8-4 record in the playoffs. Those eight wins included two unforgettable victories over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42 and 46. Not to mention, his two road victories over the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers in NFC Conference Championships are a significant part of Manning’s legacy.

Manning also holds every significant franchise passing record and is in the top 10 all-time in passing yards and touchdowns. Manning will one day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But all good things come to an end and it was time to close the book of Eli and start the Daniel Jones era.

Sept. 17, 2019, will be a day that Giants fans will remember as the end of the Eli Manning era. But they also hope that this date will mark the beginning of another successful era in the team’s history.

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