EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The final line on Davis Webb’s career with the New York Giants isn’t pretty. Zero games. Zero passes. 17 months. Two regimes.
It ended over the weekend. Webb dressed for one regular-season game -- last year’s finale -- after being selected in the third round of the 2017 draft by the previous regime.
Webb was cut and is now a free agent, champing at the bit to prove the Giants made the wrong decision.
The move shouldn’t be looked at as an indictment of Webb. He flashed throughout the summer. It’s more a Giants statement on Kyle Lauletta.
Lauletta is their guy. The fourth-round pick out of Richmond opened eyes in the front office and locker room this spring and summer. He’s a pick of general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur, who rave about his poise, quick decision-making and his mentality.
“Gamer” is a word that has been used. They like Lauletta better as a prospect than Webb.
This is the impetus behind the release of Webb, who was mysteriously jettisoned Sunday instead of career journeyman Alex Tanney. The Giants' belief in Lauletta and having him as the lone developmental quarterback is believed to be among the reasons Webb was waived, according to a source.
And with that, their plan to succeed Eli Manning becomes a bit clearer. Lauletta is currently at the top of the list.
“At this point, we do [have a succession plan] right now. It’s just not what everybody outside our building had predicted the plan was, and I think that’s where all the questions are stemming from,” Shurmur said Monday. “But we made a decision that we’re going to go with Alex and we’re going to go with Kyle as Eli’s backups, so we move forward.”
Shurmur went on to say Lauletta and Tanney outperformed Webb this summer. That’s why they were better choices for the Giants.
He wouldn’t disclose who would be the short-term backup to Manning. Lauletta and Tanney split the scout-team snaps at Monday’s practice when the Giants began preparations for Sunday’s season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
There are no second-team snaps at practice now that training camp is over and rosters have been reduced. That’s part of the problem. If the Giants want Lauletta to take whatever small portion of reps are available at practice behind Manning, where would that leave Webb? On the outside looking in. Again.
The strange part was Webb took almost all the second-team reps at practice this spring and summer. He even worked with the first-team offense at times, including during a strong performance in the second preseason game against the Lions.
Webb completed 14 of 20 passes for 140 yards with a touchdown, no interceptions and a 106.2 quarterback rating vs. Detroit. And that was a first-team offense that didn’t include top playmakers Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr.
Lauletta and Tanney never did that. They were always behind Webb in the pecking order, and mostly split third-team reps. Lauletta did start the preseason finale against the New England Patriots. He hit 8 of 19 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions working mostly with the Giants’ second-team offense.
Shurmur said he’s “very comfortable” saying Lauletta’s ready to play in an NFL game. As for Tanney, Shurmur cited his experience as a potential selling point for making the final roster.
“Here’s the thing with a veteran backup quarterback,” Shurmur said. “They can go in and function with very few reps and I think that’s an attribute that I look for in a guy that could potentially be a backup to a guy like Eli, because they don’t get that many reps during the training sessions.”
Tanney, 30, has been on nine teams since going undrafted in 2012. But he has played in only one career regular-season game.
Webb has played in none. The previous regime missed on an opportunity to get him in even after benching Manning. The Giants went to Geno Smith for a game before coach Ben McAdoo was fired and interim coach Steve Spagnuolo went back to Manning.
Co-owner John Mara let it all happen. He’s taken blame on multiple occasions since. Webb didn’t get an opportunity in a lost season to show the Giants in live game action his potential. Maybe it would have turned out differently if he had. Maybe not.
But Shurmur and Gettleman weren’t committed to Webb. They didn’t draft him. Shurmur conceded it didn’t matter to him that Webb or waived safety Darian Thompson were third-round draft picks. The draft tags eventually wear off, he said. Webb was just another quarterback, one who ultimately would never play in a game for the Giants.
Lauletta is a different story. He has the Giants excited and ready to invest time and effort. In this case, it worked against Webb.