Eli Manning will get this next last chance, this next last chance Phil Simms never got, and because of the essence of the man and what he has meant to his franchise and this town, you root for one last hurrah for him, a dream ending with the dream team he never wanted to leave in his adopted dream town.
You root for Eli Manning if you understand what it means to a franchise to have a gentleman as its face for 15 years, the Pride of the Giants for this generation the way Frank Gifford was the pride of an earlier generation.
But only a romantic who sees the world through Big Blue-colored glasses can expect the kind of Super ending for him that big brother Peyton enjoyed, that John Elway enjoyed — both with the Broncos — when Peyton won his first two Super Bowls before he rode off into the sunset.
Eli is The Caretaker, the graybeard admiral retained to steer a ship in need of repair over stormy seas. He has not been enough of a quarterback to overcome the ghastly offensive lines that have been assembled to protect him and robbed him of too many of his prime years, and if the Giants choose to believe better bodyguards and a better defense and a second season in Pat Shurmur’s offensive system will unlock the two-time Super Bowl MVP, they are kidding themselves with such a leap of faith.
General manager Dave Gettleman undoubtedly recognizes that he can pledge allegiance to one last drive across the Eli Manning Bridge as long as he starts building the bridge to a better tomorrow, a championship tomorrow.
“It would be my dream to do what Ernie Accorsi did, hand over to this team a franchise quarterback,” Gettleman said.
Then stop dreaming and find one already. Your Big Blue legacy depends on it.
Memo to Gettleman: Please fall in love with someone. Dwayne Haskins … or Kyler Murray … or Josh Rosen should he become available.
Gettleman reminded us a year ago when he passed on Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Rosen with the second-overall pick that you better not draft a quarterback unless you have a conviction on him, because you risk finding yourself in Quarterback Hell if you swing and miss.
You also find yourself in Quarterback Hell if your quarterback is 38 years old and you keep waiting for The Next John Elway … or The Next Patrick Mahomes … or The Next Eli Manning to succeed him.
You cannot afford to be so paralyzed by that fear that you neglect to pull the trigger unless and until the perfect quarterback prospect is staring you in the face.
Gettleman might be whistling Dixie if he decides to put all his eggs in the Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa or Jake Fromm baskets in the 2020 draft. The 2019 Giants won’t be tanking for any of them.
Just because Haskins is not viewed by most as compelling a prospect as Darnold or Allen or Rosen does not mean you can’t win with him. Shurmur, remember, was the head coach/quarterback whisperer who helped Case Keenum get to an NFC title game with the Vikings.
Haskins, with just 14 starts at Ohio State, will need a mentor as a rookie. Who better to mentor him than Manning playing the part of Kurt Warner 2004, or Alex Smith 2017?
“The Kansas City model worked real well,” Gettleman said.
It sure did. Haskins isn’t Pat Mahomes. But who is?
Gettleman should recognize the urgency here, and armed with the sixth pick either trade up for Haskins or throw away the franchise’s long-standing prototype guidelines for the 5-foot-9⁷/₈ Murray, knowing that on a roster with so many holes, franchise quarterback remains the biggest one.
Or, if the Cardinals are obsessed with Murray and draft him with the first-overall pick, Gettleman, who will have 10 draft picks and $27.5 million for free agents, should make the trade for Rosen and let him compete with Manning and then use the sixth pick on the best available Hog Mollie.
The jury will be out on whether drafting Saquon Barkley was the right move until Gettleman lands the right franchise quarterback. Because the right franchise quarterback always trumps the franchise running back.
The Giants have been talking about Manning being on the back nine for years. Critics cried that Accorsi gave up too much in the draft-day trade with the Chargers for Manning.
“No guts, no glory,” Gettleman said.
He needs to be as good at his job now as Barkley is at his. Gettleman can’t afford to bogey the franchise-quarterback hole. The Giants apparently can’t spell B-E-L-I-E-V-E without an E, an L and an I. At what point will they recognize you can’t spell D-E-C-L-I-N-E without an E, an L and an I, either?