The Eli Show.
John Mara hopes Jones doesn’t play all season because that would mean Eli and the team are playing well. I think most of us agree that while it might be fun in the near term, it would be better to get Jones at least some run this season. I think Mara knows this; he was simply showing respect to a franchise icon who brought him two rings in breathtaking playoff runs. And maybe he was trying to motivate the rookie a bit too. The job ain’t yours yet, kid.
After opening with the ‘Boys, the Giants play the Bucs, Bills, and Redskins. They have the second easiest schedule based on last year’s winning percentages. They could get off to a decent start, pull off a few upsets and maybe stay on the fringes of the playoff hunt for most of the season. It’s possible. Heck, maybe they’ll even sneak into the playoffs and Jones never plays a meaningful down.
So then what? This team isn’t a true contender and won’t win it all. Bringing Eli back next year seems unthinkable and they still wouldn’t know what they had in Danny Dimes.
That would be an unfortunate scenario.
The Kurt Warner switcheroo.
In Eli’s rookie year in 2004, the Giants made the switch from Warner to Eli even though Warner was playing well and had the team in the playoff hunt. But the Giants weren’t going anywhere and getting Eli some experience was the right move.
It’s more delicate time around as Warner was just brought in to keep the spot warm for Eli. But the Giants need to be looking for a similar transition point. Maybe the Giants keep afloat for a little while with the easy early schedule. But when their Super Bowl dream is exposed as a pipe dream, they need to be ready pull the plug on Eli.
I think this will happen between week 7, after a game vs the Patriots and ahead of a fairly easy stretch of games ahead of their bye vs the Cardinals, Lions, Cowboys, and J-E-T-S, and week 12, the game after their Week 11 bye. Ideally sooner, but Week 12 is the absolute latest he should start.
This scenario is ideal, in my opinion, and the most likely.
The Eli meltdown.
If the Giants stumble out of the gate, in spite of the weak opposition, the drumbeat for Jones will start early and oick up decibels quickly. Fans are fickle with short memories, just ask Andrew Luck.
Shurmur won’t have much time to get the team rolling before his hand will be forced to make the switch. The Giants want to do it on their own terms, showing respect to Manning and making sure the rookie is ready. They don’t want to throw Jones to the wolves when the team is playing poorly, facing tough defense in Minnesota (week 6) and/or rookie QB killer
Bellichick Belichick at New England (week 7). But they won’t be able to hold off the drumbeat for long.
Who knows, maybe the kid will hold up and he’ll be off and running. But the goal has to be to put him in position to start strong and gain a useful year of experience.
Still, this outcome would be less than ideal as it would better to make the switch on their own terms.
In spite of Mara’s comments, it would be a mistake if Daniel Jones does not play much in 2019. If everything goes their way, the top end goal for the Giants is about 9 wins. I know they’ve won it all with only 9 regular season wins, but the Giants don’t have the roster to pull that off again.
Nine wins and a respectable last season for Eli is a less desirable outcome than 6 wins with a smooth transition to, and valuable experience for Jones. That should be the Giants’ top priority in 2019.
Come back mañana for Angry Ward, whose top priority for 2019 is to get in more arguments at bars.