Giants rookie QB Davis Webb needs to be active for the first time this season next Sunday in San Francisco, and he needs to play, not just because this Giants season has become embarrassingly, historically awful after Sunday’s 51-17 crushing defeat to the L.A. Rams.
“That’s like a high school score,” one incredulous Giant said.
Webb needs to play because given Eli Manning’s unacceptable play Sunday, and given the way this team is spiraling toward a complete overhaul that should cost both GM Jerry Reese and coach Ben McAdoo their jobs — you read that correctly: fire Reese and fire McAdoo — this could be and arguably should be Manning’s final season as a Giant.
Manning, 36, has no guaranteed money on the two remaining years on his contract. Webb, 22, is a rookie the Giants love and had graded much higher than the third-round pick they used to take him. And the Giants also are headed for a top-three pick in a quarterback-heavy 2018 draft class.
The Giants would have to eat $ 12.4 million and $ 6.2 million in dead money in 2018 and 2019, respectively, on Manning’s contract if they released him, per OverTheCap.com. But that is much more palatable than the $ 31.6 million they would have had to eat this year.
And when co-owner John Mara told NJ.com on Sunday that this loss “speaks for itself,” that means any action that would have been considered drastic in September is now most certainly on the table.
“Well they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do,” Manning said of the hypothetical scenario that McAdoo could bench him to take a look at Webb. “I want to be out there, I want to keep playing with my teammates and keep working.”
Sunday’s disaster got so bad that McAdoo put Geno Smith in for the final series and said he wanted to do it earlier.
Davis Webb, 22, is a rookie the Giants love and had graded much higher than the third-round pick they used to take him.
(Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)
“Well I (had) planned on taking him out with over nine minutes left in the game, but we didn’t get the ball back,” McAdoo said.
That should have been Webb’s first tryout for the starting job next year, but McAdoo didn’t dress him for the game despite after having a full bye week to re-evaluate which players deserved more snaps.
That is a missed opportunity for the organization to evaluate the future of their quarterback position.
McAdoo didn’t dress Webb because he and Reese know every extra loss puts them closer to losing their jobs. Hence Reese’s “don’t count us out yet” line last week for a team that fell to 1-7 on Sunday by surrendering the most points at home since 1964.
But McAdoo basically acknowledged postgame that it might be time for Webb, with both McAdoo and Manning booed and heckled viciously by the few remaining fans on their ways into the locker room.
“You really can’t look from my chair too far ahead, but you also have to look at getting some (other) players some reps in the game,” McAdoo said. “So we’ll take a look and see if there’s any players that we can give reps to that have a chance to be a part of our future.
Asked if that includes quarterback, McAdoo said: “That includes everybody.”
There is nothing left for the 2017 Giants, only 2018 and beyond.
Asked if he has to start dressing three QBs from now on, he said: “We’ll take that on a week-to-week basis.”
The Giants’ defense of course was the most embarrassing unit on Sunday, allowing the Rams to score on eight of L.A.’s first nine possessions, including a Robert Woods 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown at 9:26 of the second quarter on 3rd-and-33 that confirmed the Giants defense just wasn’t interested.
Manning’s turnovers and inaccuracy, though, turned this game into a blowout way earlier than it had to.
First, Manning lost a fumble to kill the Giants’ first drive and give the Rams the ball at their own 48 to punch in the game’s first touchdown, after Aaron Donald blew by D.J. Fluker for the strip.
Manning responded by directing a scoring drive capped by his 5-yard TD pass to Tavarres King. But rookie back Wayne Gallman fumbled an Alec Ogletree strip on the Giants’ third drive.
And then, down 17-7 after Woods’ big TD, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan took a shot deep on first down. Sterling Shepard, back from an ankle injury, was streaking wide open for a momentum-shifting score. Manning missed him.
The Giants went three-and-out, punted, and Rams second-year QB Jared Goff lofted a strike over Landon Collins’ head to Sammy Watkins for a 67-yard TD. It was a 14-point swing, based entirely on quarterback play.
(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
“I’ve got to hit Shep on the post,” Manning said. “I’ve got a one-on-one on the post route, I’ve got to hit those. I’ve got to make better throws.”
Down 24-10 with fewer than three minutes to play in the first half, Manning took a huge second-down hit from Rams linebacker Matt Longacre, unblocked because tight end Rhett Ellison had to help an already-beaten left tackle Ereck Flowers with his man. But Manning overthrew tight end Evan Engram on the play.
And on third down, Manning forced a throw to Roger Lewis Jr. that was intercepted, leading to a Greg Zuerlein field goal. Manning then overthrew King out of bounds in the end zone with nine seconds remaining in the half, just prior to Aldrick Rosas’ once-a-game missed field goal.
The 27-10 halftime score than ballooned to 48-10 by the 3:28 mark of the third quarter, and Engram (four catches, 70 yards, TD) stood out as a Giants player who was angered by being shown up this badly. Engram finished plays with attitude, tossing a tackler down out of bounds and finishing a block aggressively on another.
“Just trying to fight,” Engram said. “Definitely pissed off.”
“It’s embarrassing, especially on our home field like that,” running back Orleans Darkwa (16 carries, 71 yards) said as the Giants fell to 0-4 at MetLife Stadium, outscored a combined 126-56 in those losses.
There is nothing left for the 2017 Giants, only 2018. That means ownership and management need to change the way they think about this 2017 team. It has to be all about next year and beyond.
All respect to Manning, his two Super Bowls and his professionalism as the longtime face of this franchise, but that means playing his rookie third-string backup and, in the offseason, maybe parting with Manning, too.