With Eli Manning getting on in years, it’s no surprise that the New York Giants took a quarterback with their first pick. They selected Daniel Jones, at number six overall. But now the team has put itself in an interesting position, with an old quarterback, coming off a five-win season, and a young star with something to prove, inhabiting the same locker room. This could go many ways. Manning could be phased out early on in the season if the Giants’ coaching staff wants Jones to take over. Or they could stick with Manning all season at the risk of frustrating the sixth overall pick. It’s possible that animosity could develop between Manning and Jones, but New York is hoping that Manning can act as a role model to the franchise’s future star.
Locker Room Culture
The locker room is a strange place with many unwritten rules. One of them is that you follow the veterans and team leaders, even to a fault. Manning doesn’t talk about retirement or if he’s past his prime or if he’s worried about being replaced. So no one else talks about it either. Certainly, the newcomer Jones can’t talk about it. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t on everyone’s mind.
The fact that everyone is thinking about the future of the quarterback position, but no one is talking about it, could create some tension within the Giants’ organization. But that’s just the way things go. The team might suffer for it this season, but they are in transition times as it is, so uncertainty is the name of the game at the moment.
Teammates and coaches of Manning are firm that the Giants are still Manning’s team. They have drafted a quarterback with their first pick, but most people are looking at the pick as an investment for the future. There’s no doubt that the Giants’ front office wants Jones to become their long-term quarterback. But as of now, the line is that Manning is still team-leader.
But things can change quickly in a competitive league. The Giants only won five games last year and that doesn’t look good for management. If New York gets off to a poor start this season, with Manning at the helm, what do they have to lose by letting Jones take some snaps? It appears to be set in stone that Manning is the starter as of now. But the NFL season is long. It’s quite possible we could see Jones make an appearance.
Can Eli Hold On?
While everyone inside the Giants’ organization seems to agree that nothing has changed because they signed Jones, things look a bit different from an outside perspective. It’s a good sign that Eli’s mindset hasn’t changed. By all accounts, he’s still as focused as ever on winning and playing his best. But knowing that your replacement is on the sidelines, waiting for his time to shine, has to wear on you. And the Giants knew this when they selected Jones. It seems clear that New York is focused more on the future than they are on the present.
As a fresh pick, Jones may not be ready to be a starter on an NFL team. Playing for Duke is a lot different than playing for the Giants. So perhaps the Giants are looking at his first year with the team as a learning year. He could benefit a lot from a veteran quarterback like Manning. If Eli can hold out for one more season, Jones could be ready to turn the Giants into a winning team again next year.