For the first time in more than 13 years, someone other than Eli Manning will start at quarterback for the Giants when they visit the Raiders on Sunday. Giants Coach Ben McAdoo on Tuesday announced that Geno Smith will start in place of Manning at Oakland and rookie quarterback Davis Webb will also see action over the final five games of New York’s lost season.
The 36-year-old Manning has started 210 consecutive regular season games since Nov. 21, 2004, when he took over for Kurt Warner in Week 11 of his rookie season. It’s the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history behind Brett Favre’s 297 consecutive games started. McAdoo gave Manning the option of prolonging that streak against the Raiders, but he declined.
“Coach McAdoo told me I could continue to start while Geno and Davis are given an opportunity to play,” said Manning, who has thrown 14 touchdown passes and seven interceptions this season. “My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them. Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak. Like I always have, I will be ready to play if and when I am needed. I will help Geno and Davis prepare to play as well as they possibly can.”
Manning has led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles, but he’s struggled this season behind a shaky offensive line and without injured wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. He is coming off one of his worst performances of the year, completing 13 of 27 passes for 113 yards and one interception in Thursday’s loss to the Redskins, which dropped the Giants to 2-9. There was speculation that Manning might be moved before the NFL’s trade deadline last month, and observers have suggested that it’s time for New York to begin looking for his successor.
The 27-year-old Smith, who started one game for the Jets last season, probably isn’t the answer. The former second round pick threw 28 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions in 33 games over the first four years of his career with the Jets. He signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Giants during the offseason. Webb, a third-round pick out of Cal, has yet to throw an NFL pass.
“This is not the way it should be, but unfortunately, it’s where we are,” McAdoo said Tuesday. “Our number one priority every week is to go win a game, but we owe it to the organization to get an evaluation of everybody on the roster, and that includes at the quarterback position. I’ll say it again, I have the utmost respect for Eli and everything he has done for this organization throughout his career. He is the consummate professional. He doesn’t like the position we are in, and neither do any of us. Eli has had to deal with a lot this season. Through it all, he has done everything we have asked of him in getting that unit ready to play. He has been steady, just like he has always been.”
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