Daniel Jones had another impressive day at training camp on Monday, throwing three consecutive touchdown passes, all in different fashion.
There was a hard dart over the middle to Russell Shepard, a floater to the back corner of the end zone to T. J. Jones and a lower liner to the front-left pylon of the end zone that Garrett Dickerson grabbed for another unofficial score.
Of course, we won’t know for a while whether Jones has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback. That will come after he faces defenses with complex schemes built to exploit his weaknesses and limit his strengths. We won’t know if he’s the answer until he has to produce behind a leaky offensive line or when the pressure is intense.
But so far Jones passes the eye test and the better he performs during the preseason the shorter the leash could be for Eli Manning, the incumbent starter. But don’t fret for Manning. It says here he’s in a no-lose situation as he enters his 16th season with the Giants grooming his heir apparent.
First off all, we can’t feel bad for someone who has made a gazillion dollars playing quarterback for the Giants, let alone someone who has won two Super Bowls and is a two-time Super Bowl MVP. He’s also a Manning, which will carry a lot of cachet long after his career is over. If Eli Manning retires tomorrow, he’s definitely in the Giants Ring of Honor, a border-line Hall of Famer and someone who did his job with the utmost professionalism. Anything that happens on the field in 2019 won’t damage that.
Take the worst-case scenario, the Giants lose their first three or four games with Manning starting and a change is made to Jones.
Given everything we’ve seen from Manning during his career, he’s not going to be a distraction. If and when Jones is named the Giants starter, Manning will be the same guy he has been for 16 years and become Jones’ biggest supporter.
Consider this from Saquon Barkley.
“When Daniel Jones goes out there and does a great job, it’s not like he’s worried,” Barkley said of Manning. “He’s happy for him. At the end of the day, that’s what this league is all about and that’s what we want to be about as a team.”
Remember, Manning has been through this before in 2004 when he was the No. 1 draft choice and Kurt Warner was benched after a 5-4 start to make room for the future of the franchise. It would be hypocritical for Manning not to back Jones after getting support from Warner, who went on to appear in a Super Bowl and eventually was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Manning is by no means giving up his job easily. He had some nice moments in practice, too, on Monday, connecting on a deep pass to Benny Fowler III. Manning’s experience gives him the best chance to beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Sept. 8 and how far he goes into the season as the starter will depend on how well the Giants play early in the year.
It doesn’t help that the receiving corps has been hit with injuries and the suspension of Golden Tate. But Manning should benefit from a revamped offensive line and the exceptional skills of Barkley. Tight end Evan Engram needs to become a playmaker.
After suffering five losing seasons in the past six years, Manning’s record as a starter is 116-114 and there are whispers the Giants want him to maintain a winning record to enhance his chances of making the Hall of Fame. That seems a bit farfetched and really shouldn’t be an issue.
If the Giants happen to lose their first two games, getting Manning back over .500 as a starter shouldn’t be an objective. He should start as long as the Giants are winning and progressing, meanwhile Jones just needs to be ready.
Regardless of how things play out, Manning is in a no-lose situation. He gets a final season with the Giants to either add to his legacy or cement it. Either way, it will always be good to be Eli Manning.
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