It’s easy to get caught up in the New York Giants’ record this year, or in how unimpressive the team has looked at points and how everyone from the fans to the players has been let down by a rookie coaching staff that hasn’t come out to a strong start, but sometimes it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. In this case, the bigger picture has to do with the team’s quarterback situation and the looming transition from Eli Manning to another quarterback.
Manning will start against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, and with five games left in the season, any game beyond that could be the last one that he plays in as the starting quarterback of the Giants. That’s not to say that it’s completely certain that Manning will end up on the bench next year in favor of a rookie. But realistically, there’s a good chance of it happening.
The fanbase has been asking for Kyle Lauletta to get playing time during the ending phase of this season, after all, and Lauletta is just a fifth round pick who hasn’t even shown any exceptional skills during the preseason. If the Giants do go ahead and spend a top five draft pick on a higher rated quarterback, the expectation will definitely be for that player to get onto the field right away. For better or for worse.
It could be the end of an era.
This team doesn’t have a lot of iconic players on it. Eli Manning is one of the few that there is, and you could also consider him the last man standing from the last two runs that ended in the Giants winning the Super Bowl. Others are already off the team now, whether through retirement or trades or free agency. It’s part of the reason why fans were so sentimental when Victor Cruz left the organization last year to eventually sign with the Chicago Bears.
Not just because of what Cruz had done for the team over the years, but because he was one of the last players of that group to still play for the Giants.
And now, Eli Manning has at most five games before his future as the starting quarterback is thrown into serious jeopardy. Even if he isn’t replaced as soon as next season begins, the writing on the wall is that it will happen sooner rather than later. The end could come sooner. It’s not entirely out of the question for the Giants to name Kyle Lauletta the starter later in the season, for the sake of evaluating the other QB that’s already on their roster.
This season is frustrating for everyone. It’s easy to check out and not pay much attention to the team. After all, everyone had their hopes up during the Philadelphia game only for the Giants to let them down in the end. It would be easier to switch focus to the Knicks or the Rangers, or perhaps the Nets and the Islanders depending on your rooting interests.
But if you do that, you’d miss the last games of an era, and there won’t be an option to go back and experience it as it happens once it’s passed. That in itself is a good enough reason to watch the last five games of the season, loyalty to the team aside.
The Eli Manning era will go down as a long one, and when it’s over, there’s no telling how long the Giants will be stuck on the list of teams without a franchise quarterback. The Cleveland Browns are often made fun of for their quarterback problems, but many fans forget how easy it is to become like them. Draft two quarterbacks who end up being busts, and you might waste five to six seasons before you gain a hit, either through the draft or free agency.
Draft another bust, and you’re back in the same vicious cycle.
The New York Giants, fortunately, haven’t started that cycle yet. They still have their longtime quarterback and the time hasn’t come yet for them to decide which player they’ll take in the draft, or which player will start next season. This season might not be going well, but the Giants have stability at least. There’s no doubt that it’s Eli Manning’s team, even if Manning could end up on the bench before the season ends.
We should all value it while it lasts.
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