If the Giants (2-9) step back and reflect, their problem wasn’t necessarily benching Eli Manning; it was the way they executed it.
“Oh, without a doubt,” three-time Super Bowl champion and Liberty Tax representative Daryl Johnston said on The DA Show. “Without a doubt. I don’t think anybody would have been upset if they’d have handled this the right way. When we went out to San Francisco (in Week 10), I fully expected to see Geno Smith inactive and Davis Webb active – or all three of them active. That’s how I thought that this would play out down the stretch, that you would go into the game trying to win it – because at that time, Ben McAdoo said Eli Manning gives us the best opportunity to win the game. I don’t know what has changed from pre-San Francisco to now, but now he thinks Geno Smith gives them the best opportunity to win a game.”
Indeed, Smith will start this Sunday in Oakland (5-6). Manning was given the chance to extend his streak of 210 consecutive regular-season starts but declined.
“I have even more respect for Eli Manning gracefully saying, ‘Thank you for the opportunity to continue the streak, but if I’m going to start the game, I want to finish the game,’” Johnston said. “You can’t say enough for how he’s handled this. It’s the ugly side of the sport. There’s a few guys that get to ride off into the sunset – John Elway, Jerome Bettis, Michael Strahan. We’ve gotten to see a few of them do that, where they win Super Bowls and do that. But normally it ends kind of what we’re seeing today with Eli Manning.”
Manning guided the Giants to a pair of Super Bowl wins over the Patriots, as well as a playoff appearance in 2016. But with injuries and ineffective play up and down the roster, the Giants could finish with their worst record in decades.
Turning the page, at least for now, is understandable. But to turn it for Geno Smith?
“You can see it in certain places with Alex Smith in Kansas City,” Johnston said. “They’re talking about that now. Is it time to see Patrick Mahomes out there down the stretch to see what we have there at quarterback, to see if we’re going to resign Alex Smith. . . . That’s one of the other questions I have with this whole decision with Eli. You know what you have with Geno Smith because he’s played in the NFL before. You have an idea of what Davis Webb can be – and if that’s the direction you want to go, I think people would have been all right with that. But just the way they handled the whole thing and ending the streak, that’s a tough thing for Giants fans to accept.”