EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kyle Lauletta will have to wait, maybe even a bit longer than he anticipated, before getting his shot in an NFL game. He can look in the mirror for the reason.
It will test his patience. That -- as his recent run-in with police in Weehawken, New Jersey, indicates -- might be a struggle. He has nobody beside himself to blame.
Lauletta might have been named the starter for Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers had he not been arrested last Tuesday morning and charged with various motor vehicle and related offenses pertaining to a traffic violation. It appears the New York Giants were at least thinking of a change at quarterback before the incident.
“We’ll see,” coach Pat Shurmur had said a day before Lauletta’s arrest, when asked if Eli Manning would start against the 49ers.
It’s official now. Manning will start Monday night, but the door appears to be open for the Giants (1-7) to look at Lauletta -- a fourth-round pick out of Richmond -- later this season should their offense continue to stumble.
“I told [Manning] he’s starting Monday,” Shurmur said Tuesday after explaining he had a couple conversations with Manning over the weekend that seemed to reaffirm his role as the starter. “You guys roll with it how you want, with the idea that [Manning’s] going to get us on a run here. There will be no decision to make. Part of the conversation was, 'We trust you, we want to work with you and we trust the fact that you’re going to get in there and help us win football games.'”
If it doesn’t go well against the 49ers or the following week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you get the idea. The Giants want to see Lauletta. They still rave about his instincts, and there is a contingent in the locker room that thinks he has “it.”
Getting a peek at these intangibles wasn’t possible this week -- not after Lauletta’s self-inflicted setback, for which he apologized Tuesday. He couldn’t be rewarded immediately after an incident that left the team “disappointed.”
Now he has to wait for a new crack to open. It could come next week, or three weeks down the line.
If the Giants struggle Monday night, Week 11 would be ideal. Get Lauletta some more practice snaps this week -- he’s been inactive and the third-stringer behind Manning and Alex Tanney in each of the first eight games -- and have him ready to play the following Sunday against Tampa Bay. The Bucs are 31st in passing defense and have the least effective pass rush among the Giants' remaining opponents. The following week, he would face the Philadelphia Eagles, who have the 25th-ranked passing defense.
After that it gets more difficult. The Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins and Tennessee Titans, in Weeks 13-15, are all among the league’s top 10 scoring defenses. That would be a tough spot to insert a rookie coming from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA).
Now if Manning starts to play better and the Giants begin to win games, Lauletta could remain stuck on the sideline with a clipboard. It’s a thought that admittedly crossed his mind after getting arrested, among other potential fallout from the incident. He’s trying not to worry specifically about whether it cost him a chance to play.
“I don’t know about 'worry.' Like I mentioned, I can’t worry about that,” Lauletta said. “I can’t afford to worry about that and let it affect how I prepare, how I play, how I come to work every day. Maybe that’s a better question for Coach Shurmur.
“Like I said, I’m just going to do everything I can and prove to everybody -- I’m not going to say it, I’m just going to prove it by how I come to work every day and give this thing everything that I have and be the best teammate I can be and just keep grinding, put my head down, get back to work and just try to keep moving forward one day at a time. I think that’s where I’m at and that’s kind of my mindset moving forward.”
At this point, the Giants don’t have all that much to play for, aside from future seasons. They don’t want to make the same mistake as last season, when they failed to get Davis Webb into a game and went into the offseason admittedly not sure what they had at quarterback. Some information is better than none at this point. Getting Lauletta some playing time would at least provide them with some valuable information heading into an offseason when they undoubtedly will have to address their quarterback position.
Manning will be 38 by then and set to count $23.2 million against the salary cap. The Giants would save $17 million if he’s cut or retires. It’s not hard to see where this one is headed, considering the state of the franchise and the current form of its quarterback.
Lauletta’s shot is coming at some point this season. There are eight games remaining. It seems to be just a matter of when, not if.