New York Giants President and CEO John Mara raised some eyebrows during Giants practice Tuesday when asked about the team’s quarterback dilemma. Eli Manning, who has two Super Bowl titles and the most passing yards and touchdowns in Giants history, is 38-years old and in the final year of his contract. The Giants drafted Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall, the heir apparent to Manning as the franchise quarterback.
Regardless of how Jones played in his preseason debut, Mara’s dream is for the rookie to never see the field this season. If Manning is the starter Week 1, his success would translate into the Giants winning games.
“I hope Eli has a great year and Daniel never sees the field,” Mara said to Giants reporters Tuesday. “That would be an ideal world. You’d like to see that. Again, at the end of the day, it’s going to be a decision by the head coach as to when or if Daniel ends up playing this year.”
Jones had an impressive first drive in a Giants uniform, going 5-for-5 for 67 yards and a touchdown, a 12-yard pass to Bennie Fowler in the first quarter, capping an eight-play, 73-yard drive that had Giants fans excited about the future. All Jones’ debut did was raise speculation when he would supplant Manning as the team’s starting quarterback, potentially by Week 1.
So why does Mara still have faith in Manning? The Giants CEO looked toward the back end of last season to vocally support his quarterback. Manning completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 1,922 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions in the second half of last year, finishing with a 94.1 passer rating.
“I think he’s played well when the protection has been there in front of him, when he has confidence in the protection,” Mara said. “I thought that the second half of last year he played much better, our protection got a little bit better, and obviously Saquon (Barkley) was having a big year. So, I think our offensive line is better this year than it has been, and he’s had a terrific camp so far.”
Manning isn’t falling into the speculation that he could be replaced by Jones at some point, even with Mara’s powerful support towards him.
“My mindset is to go in, play well, win football games and have a great year. That’s what I’m working towards.”