Giants head coach Pat Shurmur answered the big question coming out of the bye week of who he will start at quarterback against the 49ers on Monday Night Football. Despite schools of thought saying the Giants should see what rookie QB Kyle Lauletta can do with the team at 1-7, Shurmur said QB Eli Manning will continue to be the team’s starter.
However, he did make sure to say that Manning has to play better.
“I also explained to Eli that everybody needs to play better and as we go through this, it’s important that we’re not ‘almost’ in these games, we do what we have to do to get it over the top and win football games,” he said.
To most, that sounded like an ultimatum given to Manning from his new head coach. Or does it?
“I don’t look at it that way,” Shurmur said in his weekly “Shurmur Sez” exclusive with Giants.com. “Again, part of the bye week is to talk about areas we need to get better. He’s done a lot of good things, but I think you always talk to the quarterback individually, and certainly the head coach and the coordinator do that. So I don’t see it quite that way. But again, I’m not going to try to tell other people what to believe. Eli’s going to be our quarterback and I expect him to play winning football.”
Through Week 8, Manning was actually ranked fourth in passing yards in the league with 2,377 to go along with a 68.3 completion percentage. But the Giants haven’t been able to win games due to their inability to score in the red zone (40 percent touchdown rate is second-to-last in the league this season). That would explain Manning only having eight touchdowns on the season over his eight games.
Shurmur knows the Giants’ red zone efficiency, or lack there of, is a big reason why Manning and the Giants are struggling to put points on the board.
“Largely,” Shurmur said when asked about red zone struggles. “We’re moving the ball and we’re doing a lot of good things. We just have to finish by putting the ball in the end zone. I’ve talked about it now for – you’ve probably asked me that question three times, so I think that’s certainly something we’ve got to get fixed.”
So the reality of the situation is this: If the Giants can’t show they have figured out their offensive woes with Manning under center, many are going to call for Shurmur to make a change. And Manning would likely be the odd man out.