EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants have been virtually eliminated from playoff contention, but Pat Shurmur still isn’t ready to reveal his future quarterback plans. All he committed to on Monday was that Eli Manning will start against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
It sure would make sense for the Giants to give rookie Kyle Lauletta some playing time after that. But what Shurmur said next really made no sense at all.
“Why are you jumping over (Alex) Tanney?” Shurmur asked.
Well, there are so many reasons. But start with this: Because he’s a 31-year-old journeyman who has been kicking around the NFL for seven seasons, has played for eight teams, appeared in only one game, and attempted only 14 passes. He also has zero chance of being the heir to Manning and the Giants’ quarterback of the future.
So the better question really is: Why aren’t you jumping over Tanney, coach?
“I think what you try to do is win each game,” Shurmur explained. “You make your decision based on winning the game. And you base your decisions based on putting the best team on the field that gives you the best chance to win the game.”
OK, now that’s a good explanation of why Shurmur is still sticking with the 37-year-old Manning, at least for the first of the Giants’ final five games in this lost season. There is no doubt that Manning gives the Giants the best chance to win of the quarterbacks on their roster. And winning still matters, believe it or not.
But there is no scenario where playing Tanney gives the Giants their best chance to win — especially considering he’s never actually played in an NFL win. The former Monmouth College (Ill.) star played in one game — the last game of the 2015 season for the Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis. He did go 10 for 14 for 99 yards and a touchdown, but the Titans lost, 30-24.
So let’s be real here, even if Shurmur prefers to be coy. The only reason to play any other quarterback down the stretch is to see if the Giants have Manning’s heir on the roster. They are going to be shopping for their next franchise quarterback this offseason, most likely with what figures to be a Top 10 draft pick. They don’t want to make the mistake the old regime made last season by never playing then-rookie (and now ex-Giant) Davis Webb.
Yet if you believe Shurmur, they might just repeat last year’s disaster. Remember, the worst part of what GM Jerry Reese and coach Ben McAdoo did last season wasn’t benching Manning. It was benching Manning for Geno Smith. They turned to a quarterback who the Giants knew was not going to be part of their future.
Why in the world would they do it again?
“Who knows?” Shurmur said, when asked if Tanney could possibly be the Giants’ long-term answer at quarterback. “Who knows? I think that’s where it gets bogged down here. Who knows?”
Who knows? Basically, everyone. The NFL makes scouting mistakes sometimes, but if Tanney was good enough to be the Giants’ next franchise quarterback this would turn out to be one of the all-time biggest misses. Does anyone really believe that seven previous franchises all failed to spot that special something in Tanney that the Giants suddenly discovered at 31 years old?
No. This should be about Lauletta, a 22-year-old that the Giants have invested in for the future — at least to a small degree. They gave Lauletta a four-year contract. They cut Webb because they liked Lauletta better. Maybe he won’t be the Giants’ future. But they drafted him because they thought he might be.
So if the Giants are going to take a look at anyone, doesn’t it have to be him?
“At some point regardless of where they’re picked, unless you’re one of those top 4 picks, who cares where you’re picked?” Shurmur said. “He’s a Giant, right? He went to college, right? If you’re third in your class are we going to worry about the other two?
“We drafted a lot of other players who are out there playing. Some aren’t. We’re just trying to put the best team on the field.”
And that includes Tanney?
“If we felt like he was giving us the best chance to win,” Shurmur said. “That’s the coach’s view. All along he’s been our No. 2 guy. He does the things that we think can help us win a game.”
Honestly, it was hard to tell if Shurmur was just trying to be deferential to Tanney or argumentative with a media that turned on him a bit after the Giants’ 25-22 loss in Philadelphia on Sunday. Or maybe he really is sincere that he does feel playing Tanney this season is a smart move. But here’s the thing: Playing Smith last season was largely viewed as a waste of time by everyone — including many inside the Giants organization.
Playing Tanney over Lauletta would be a waste of time too. There’s simply nothing to be gained by seeing a journeyman who absolutely will not be the Giants’ quarterback of the future. Even if he lights it up in his one shining moment, the Giants are still going to shop for a quarterback as soon as the season is over. Playing Lauletta at least gives them a glimpse of one possible future, of a young a player with some potential. Even not playing him and sticking with Manning at least signals a refusal to give up.
But playing Tanney? Nothing can be gained and nothing can be accomplished by doing that. That’s why everyone was jumping over Tanney in the conversation with Shurmur.
And that’s why Shurmur should jump right over him too.