EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning‘s run as the starting quarterback for the New York Giants appears to be over after almost 15 years. Rookie Daniel Jones is taking over, beginning Sunday on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team announced Tuesday.
“Eli and I spoke this morning,” coach Pat Shurmur said in a release by the team. “I told him that we are making a change and going with Daniel as the starter. 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.”
Jones was the No. 6 overall pick in this year’s draft, out of Duke. He had a strong spring and summer, completing 85.3 percent of his passes in the preseason with two touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Manning, 38, has made a franchise record 232 starts since replacing Kurt Warner in November 2004, during Manning’s rookie season. He has collected a pair of Super Bowl MVPs and rewritten the franchise record book during a 16-season run.
“Ultimately, this is a move that I felt was best for this team at this time,” Shurmur said. “I have said it since I got here, I am very fond of Eli. His work ethic, his preparation, his football intelligence. All those attributes are as good as I have ever seen in a player. And Eli worked as hard as you could ask of anybody to get ready for this season. This move is more about Daniel moving forward than about Eli.”
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Manning knew coming into this season that Jones was breathing down his neck. General manager Dave Gettleman and Shurmur told Manning during the draft that it would be his starting job as long as he won games.
The Giants have lost their first two games by a combined 32 points. They are 0-2 for the sixth time in seven seasons.
“Hey, we’re 0-2 and looking for answers,” Manning said Monday after Shurmur left open the possibility that Jones could take his starting job. “I get it when you draft a guy early and [are] not winning games, things are going to come up. So I just need to keep working and do whatever my job is.”
Manning has completed 63 percent of his passes this season for 556 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a lost fumble. He’s 22nd out of 32 quarterbacks with a total QBR of 37.5 this season.
The Giants’ problems go well beyond their quarterback. They’re short on wide receivers and their defense has struggled. It has created a situation where they appear to be in a rebuild rather than serious playoff contention.
It’s not what they were envisioning. Co-owner John Mara said this summer that in an ideal world, Jones wouldn’t play a snap this season because it would mean that Manning and the Giants were enjoying success.
This isn’t an ideal world. Jones will be inserted into the lineup in Week 3 after having served as the backup each of the first two games. He has taken backup reps (about 10 percent) at practice while also splitting time with Alex Tanney running the scout team. Jones told ESPN late last week that he spent a chunk of his time since the start of the regular season researching old game film of that current week’s opponent to support Manning’s preparation.
Jones now has a full week to prepare for Tampa Bay’s defense, which has started the season well under new coordinator Todd Bowles.
The Giants have continuously had discussions behind the scenes about how to handle Jones and their quarterback situation. Among the topics of conversation have been how to balance trying to win now with doing what is best for the future of the franchise.
“We’re always trying to do what we can to win this next game. And then we’re always behind the scenes having those long-term discussions,” Shurmur said. “I think that is the challenge each week is doing what you can to win each game. That’s really my focus as the coach and certainly that is what the players’ focus is.”
This isn’t the first time Manning has found himself on the bench. He benched himself in the 2017 season when former coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese asked him to start a Week 13 game in Oakland before giving way in the second half to Geno Smith. McAdoo and Reese were fired and Manning was reinserted as the starter before the following week.
Manning kept the job for another 21 months, producing a total of six wins. His career record as a starter could now end at 116-116.
But his résumé will at least warrant consideration for the Hall of Fame when his career comes to a close. Manning has completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 56,537 yards with 362 touchdowns and 241 interceptions. He has also engineered two legendary playoff runs that ended with the Giants hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Manning is seventh all time in NFL history in passing yards, eighth in touchdown passes and sixth in completions and attempts.