The surest sign that an NFL team has a quarterback controversy is when the starting quarterback says it doesn’t.
The New York Giants, after passing on a quarterback last year in the first round of one of the deepest quarterback drafts in recent league history, selected signal-caller Daniel Jones out of Duke University sixth overall in April’s draft.
So far, the team has been treating the pick as a gradual passing of the torch for when Manning retires.
Indeed, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has said Jones could wait on the bench for multiple seasons before getting his shot.
Manning, for his part, spoke to NFL Network this week in a likely attempt to defuse any potential speculation that the 15-year veteran will be losing his starting job.
“I mean no, I don’t feel like it’s a competition,” Manning told NFL Network’s “Total Access” in an interview that aired Friday.
“I feel like I’ve got to do my job and I’ve got to compete every day and try to get better every day. That’s the way it’s been my whole life and that’s just the way I’ve always approached practice every day to improve, to earn my place on the team, to earn the respect of the teammates and do it each year.”
To be fair to Manning, there’s no reason to believe he can’t continue to perform at an elite level at age 38, not when Tom Brady and Drew Brees both made it to their respective conference championship games last season.
Manning’s statistics in 2018 back this up.
He had the lowest interception percentage and highest completion percentage of his career despite being sacked 7.5 percent of the time, by far the most punishment he’s taken in his Giants career.
And after Jones was drafted, Gettleman gave a vote of confidence to Manning, saying that “maybe we’re going to be the Green Bay model, where [Aaron] Rodgers sat for three years,” per CBS Sports.
Rodgers, like Jones in this scenario, sat for his three years behind a Hall of Famer, Brett Favre.
Perhaps Shurmur saw what happened to Ben McAdoo when he had the temerity to start someone other than Manning under center.
Offensive coordinator Mike Shula is high on Jones’ potential, saying in May, “I think he’d be ready to go, that’s my personal opinion.”
But like his coach and general manager, Shula seems to be on board with bringing Jones along slowly and giving him time to acclimate to the NFL while holding a clipboard on game day.
“The obvious reasons for him with Eli as our starter to be sitting is he’s going to be learning from one of the best ever in regard to preparation,” Shula said, according to Newsday.
“Not just the normal stuff, but the day-to-day operations, the routine schedule, and then all the details of the position.”
Manning, meanwhile, is hardly opposed to passing the torch; he’s just not ready to do it right away.
“We’ve got new guys and I’m trying to build a relationship with them and get them up to speed and so I’m trying to do my job in the quarterback room,” Manning told NFL Network.
“I’ve always been good with young quarterbacks, whoever’s been in there, trying to get them up to speed, teaching them about defenses or styles or what our defense plays,” he added.
“So I’m doing the same thing with Daniel and I’m going to be a good teammate, I’m going to do the best that I can do and help everybody on the Giants be successful.”
Still, with a franchise that’s struggled so much in recent years, we may be just a few Manning interceptions away from the New York media calling for a change.
Only time will tell.
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