There is intrigue whenever organizations must walk the tightrope between short and long term.
And so the plot thickens behind the Big Blue Curtain.
Rookie Kyle Lauletta leapfrogged journeyman Alex Tanney against the Bears and is suddenly a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Pat Shurmur, 4-8 in his rookie season with the Giants, wants to win, wants to win out and build a winning culture.
The question is how much he and general manager Dave Gettleman — and owner John Mara — prioritize the evaluation of Lauletta, a process the previous regime unwisely did not seek with Davis Webb?
At this moment in time, as you attempt to interpret Shurmur-ese, it appears more likely than not Manning will start the rest of the way unless and until it is determined by Shurmur that he does not give the Giants the best chance to win.
It could mean it could take a Manning implosion to sit him.
“We’re trying to get 8-8 one game at a time, and then see what happens from there,” Shurmur said.
On the other hand, if and when the powers that be know they cannot get to 8-8 — and that could happen as early as Sunday against the Redskins — Shurmur could reserve the right to change his mind and shift gears — but only if rookie Lauletta is ready. Or ready enough.
“And maybe we will at that time, but if we do, then that’s a question and an answer for a different time,” Shurmur said.
Only this much is certain: Until the Walking Dead Giants are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, starting someone other than Manning is a non-starter.
Shurmur was blitzed with quarterback questions at his Monday press conference. The sixth query was whether there is an internal plan to give Lauletta, who was active for the first time Sunday, game reps to evaluate him.
“We’re trying to win every game we play, OK?” Shurmur said, before talking about the different models used to develop young quarterbacks around the league.
“We have a starting quarterback that we believe in,” Shurmur said. “We put him out there because we believe he’s gonna lead us to victories, and then behind the scenes, much like every other position, we’re developing those players.”
Of course, those players, some of whom are being developed on gameday, do not play quarterback.
“Way different than the quarterback position … way different,” Shurmur said.
Asked if there was a huge gap between Manning and Lauletta, Shurmur said: “I don’t know that, and you’ll only know that if and when Lauletta gets in the game. In my mind, Tanney and Lauletta are both valid choices as backups now.”
Shurmur was asked if he would be open to having Lauletta start at some point this season.
“I want to win every game we play,” Shurmur said, “starting with the Redskins, and that will be with Eli as our starter.”
Of course there are discussions about Life With Manning and Life After Manning behind the Big Blue door, involving the owners and Gettleman.
“There’s billion-dollar businesses that have issues of the day they don’t share with the world,” Shurmur said. “And I don’t think our business is any different.”
So the mystery continues. The landscape might be different next Monday, or it might not be. If Lauletta can convince Shurmur the game would not be too big for him, that he can escape the rush and hand the ball to Barkley and find Odell Beckham Jr. downfield and run the huddle, if 4-8 becomes 4-9, let The Kid play. Even if it’s off the bench.
“Eli is an outstanding quarterback, and he’s done an amazing job this season,” Lauletta said. “I don’t think he’s been given enough credit for what he’s done on the field. I’m just kinda sitting behind him trying to learn. … I do feel that whenever I do get my opportunity, [got] to be prepared.”
What tells Lauletta he is ready?
“I’m just confident in myself,” he said. “And I feel like I’ve learned enough and been here long enough to know what to do. I understand the offense, and obviously I haven’t gotten a ton of reps, but nobody does if they’re not the starter in this league. … If I get an opportunity, I think I’ll be fine, and I think I’ll do a great job.”
If a quarterback doesn’t think that way, he shouldn’t be your quarterback: “Eli’s our starter,” Shurmur said. “And we have two backups.”
Manning wants to play. Every damn gameday. It is still difficult to envision him on the Giants sideline. Shurmur wants to win. Until further notice, the smart money should be on Manning finishing out the season under center.