Phil Simms wants to see QB Eli Manning take the field for the Giants on opening day. He also wants Manning’s mystery successor taking notes on Big Blue’s sideline.
Speaking at a CBS Super Bowl press conference on Tuesday, Simms made it clear New York should spend the next few months planning to draft its next franchise quarterback, and sooner rather than later.
“They’re gonna draft a quarterback this year,” Simms said, per New York Post’s Steve Serby. “I think they should. Time to do it. Eli could handle it. We drafted Dave Brown the first round [of the 1992 supplemental draft] when I was with the Giants. It worked out all right. We were great friends. We learned to work together and hung out together and it was awesome.”
If the Giants sign a quarterback at the 2019 NFL Draft, Simms thinks Manning will serve as the teacher for his successor next season; walking him through the motions and grooming him on what it means to be a New York quarterback. Simms said the length of this transition process is still a question mark.
“I don’t think they’re gonna go out and sign a free agent and take Eli’s job. I don’t see that,” Simms said. “They need a transition, and that transition’s gonna be a year, it could be two years, it could be six games, whatever. I think [Manning will] be their starting quarterback opening day.
“They’re gonna bring a quarterback in, in-waiting, and how Eli plays and how the team does determines how long Eli’s in there.”
Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins has potential to be that quarterback-in-waiting. Haskins is considered by many to be the top-rated QB in the draft, and it would be smart for the Giants to pursue him. The 21-year-old redshirt sophomore finsihed third in voting for the Heisman Trophy and threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns in his first season as a starter.
Simms’ reasoning for Manning to start the season, with no indication on whether he’ll be sidelined before it ends, is the two-time Super Bowl champion’s desire to retire having spent his entire career as a New York Giant. Simms knows first-hand what it’s like to consider playing for another team. He played his entire 14-year career with the Giants and visited Bill Belichick’s Cleveland Browns before opting against it.
“I think it means a lot to him,” Simms said. “It should. I almost went somewhere and played. I’m so glad it didn’t work out, because it’s so much better to be known just as that. I went anyway, but we don’t remember Joe Namath playing for the Rams.”
Asked if the Giants can win with Manning, Simms said, “Will they win the Super Bowl next year? No. Probably not. But I kind of thought they came together pretty good at the end of the year, I could see where they’re going.
“I’m still a big fan of [coach] Pat Shurmur’s offense, and I’m a big fan of [coordinator] James Bettcher’s defense. They had some rough moments that kind of surprised me on the defensive side, but I think they’ll straighten out. Sometimes you just gotta go back and look at the work and go, ‘We didn’t have the guys to do what I was doing here,’ so you learn even as a coach.
“I think the Giants will be definitely a different product next year. It’ll be better.”