EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Losing to the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving and being eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend got New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo thinking. Maybe it was time to take a look at his quarterbacks not named Eli Manning.
McAdoo hatched a plan that would phase out Manning down the stretch of the season. He passed it by owners John Mara and Steve Tisch and general manager Jerry Reese. While there was some uncertainty about whether it was the right thing to do, McAdoo made the final call, according to a source.
In the end, they called it a group decision.
“I spoke to Jerry, and I spoke to ownership, yes,” McAdoo said. “We’re on the same page.”
Reese, Mara and Tisch were not available for comment.
McAdoo spoke with Manning on Monday. The plan was for Manning to keep his starting job and extend his consecutive games streak to 211 when the Giants play in Oakland on Sunday. He wasn't going to finish the game, though.
“The game plan going in was to play him for a half and play Geno [Smith] for the second half, and we decided after our conversation [Tuesday] morning that we’ll give Geno the ball starting at the beginning of the game,” McAdoo said.
Manning had the chance to sleep on the plan and decided against it, even if it meant having his streak end after 13 years. He didn’t want to keep it going somewhat artificially.
“Yeah, I mean, I just didn’t think that you start knowing that you’re going to come out of a game to keep a streak alive, maybe. That’s not what it’s about,” Manning said. “It’s not a preseason game where you’re going to play the start to the half. What’s the next week? A quarter? A series? That’s not fair. That’s not fair to me, that’s not fair to Geno, that’s not how you play. You play to win. You’re named the starting quarterback, you think it’s your job to go win the football game. When you know you’re just going to play a little bit, I didn’t feel like that was the right way to play.”
Smith was informed Tuesday that he would be the starter. He and reserve quarterback Davis Webb did not know about the plan that was discussed by Manning and McAdoo the previous day.
Smith said he immediately went to work after his conversation with McAdoo.
“He told me to go out there and play my game,” Smith said. “I’m not looking too far ahead or behind. I look forward to this week. I think it’s going to be a great matchup with Oakland. They’re a pretty good team. They’re down a couple guys, but they’re still playing tough defense. So we just got to go out there and execute.”
Webb also was informed Tuesday that Smith would start and he would eventually enter the equation.
“It was coach McAdoo,” Webb said. “He let us all know.”
Webb is a third-round pick who has yet to dress for a professional game. He still might be the third-string quarterback this week, with the plan being to have Smith as the starter and Manning as the backup.
McAdoo told the rest of the team Tuesday when they huddled after their walk-through. Several players said they didn’t see much of a reaction.
While Manning talked in the locker room and got emotional describing one of his toughest days as a Giant, a group of players on the other side of the room were having a few laughs. They seemed oblivious to what was going on around them.
McAdoo, meanwhile, spoke to the media at an impromptu news conference in the team’s fieldhouse. He delivered the message to a fan base that, based on the initial outrage, wasn’t very receptive to the message.
“All right, each and every week our No. 1 job is to win a football game,” McAdoo said. “We’re 2-9 right now. We have five left to play. We’re out of contention, and our No. 1 job is to still win football games. But it’s my responsibility to make sure we have a complete evaluation of the roster -- top to bottom. Especially at the quarterback position moving on to next season, and with that, we’re going to start Geno [Smith] this week and give him an opportunity to show what he can do.”
With that, 13-plus years with Eli Manning as the Giants starter came to a close.