“Eli and I spoke this morning,” Coach Pat Shurmur said in a statement. “I told him that we are making a change and going with Daniel as the starter. I also talked to Daniel. Eli was obviously disappointed, as you would expect, but he said he would be what he has always been, a good teammate, and continue to prepare to help this team win games.”
He added, “This move is more about Daniel moving forward than about Eli.”
The Giants are 0-2 to start the season, losing to the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills. Manning completed 56 of 89 passes for 556 yards in those games, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He has put up those numbers without his best receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., who was traded to the Cleveland Browns in the off-season. Since Manning’s second Super Bowl win, after the 2011 season, the team has made the playoffs only once, losing in the first round in 2016.
The Giants drafted Jones with the sixth overall pick out of Duke, a selection that puzzled many fans and prognosticators, who expected him to go later. The Giants vigorously defended his selection: “He’s going to have to spit on my shoes when he comes in for me not to want to draft this kid,” General Manager Dave Gettleman said.
Though his numbers at Duke did not pop off the page, scouts loved his arm, mobility, intelligence and intangibles, as well as his height, 6-foot-5.
Manning’s benching comes at a time when several teams are wrestling with decisions about the future of aging quarterbacks. Just last week two veterans sustained injuries: Ben Roethlisberger, 37, of the Pittsburgh Steelers, will miss the rest of the season after elbow surgery, and Drew Brees, 40, of the New Orleans Saints, will miss at least several weeks with a hand injury. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is still performing well, but at age 42 cannot have many years left.
Manning was benched in midseason before, in 2017, in a decision that stirred controversy. The team was 2-9, but Giants fans who loved Manning for his Super Bowl wins felt he was being disrespected. They scorned his replacement, Geno Smith.
Initially, Manning had been asked to play only the first half of games for the rest of that season, but he rejected the plan. Smith played all right in his one start, but the team owner, John Mara, disagreed with the way the benching was handled, and Manning was back as the starter the next week.
Regardless of how many more games he plays with the team, Manning will always be remembered for the two dramatic Super Bowl wins.
In 2008, the Giants beat the 18-0 Patriots after Manning eluded a seemingly certain sack and hit David Tyree, who caught the pass by pinning it on his helmet. The play is often cited as one of the greatest in N.F.L. history. The Giants won, 17-14. Four years later, they again won a close game against the Patriots, 21-17. Manning was the most valuable player in both games.
Though those titles forever locked Manning in the Giants’ pantheon, his overall numbers never matched the very best quarterbacks of his generation, including his brother Peyton, who retired in 2015. Eli Manning never led the league in a major passing category.
Still, his longevity and durability mean his cumulative statistics with the Giants are monumental: 56,537 passing yards and 362 touchdown passes. In part because the team has struggled for the past few seasons, his record as a starter is only 116-116.
The Jones era will begin on Sunday in Tampa, Fla., against the Buccaneers.