The 38-year old former starting quarterback looked disappointed and sounded more than frustrated that it ended like this. The 22-year old new starting quarterback looked uncomfortable and sounded, well, a bit nervous.
Welcome to the new world order around the Giants, where Daniel Jones is in, Eli Manning is out and mark down the time and place where this all went down, as it will shape the franchise for years to come.
“Daniel’s our starter, Eli will back him up and we’re moving forward,’’ coach Pat Shurmur said Wednesday.
It was Shurmur not long after the 28-14 loss to the Bills knew he had to do something to shake up his team, once again 0-2, and knew that shakeup had to start at quarterback for Sunday’s game in Tampa.
“My gut told me it was the right time,’’ Shurmur said.
Manning knew he had to win to keep his starting job, but never thought that edict would expire after only two games.
“Well, you can wish all you want, that’s not the way it played out,’’ Manning said. “In some ways I signed up for this, knowing when you draft a young quarterback this can happen. I got to live with it and make the best of it.
“I’ll support Daniel and I’ll be a good teammate and I’ll do what I’m told.’’
The juxtaposition was glaring. Manning faced a media swarm in front of his locker. Jones spoke to the same assemblage standing on a podium in the more comfortable team meeting room.
“I didn’t know how everything was gonna shake out this year,’’ said Manning, who for the first time in his career entered a season on the final year of his contract. “When you draft a young quarterback, yeah, there’s a possibility they’re gonna play him if things don’t go well. We didn’t start fast and that’s the situation we’re in now.’’
Manning does not hide his emotions well and it was evident he was hurting at the timing of this move. He has a no-trade clause and did not say whether he would or would not waive it in order to go elsewhere.
“I’m just taking this day by day,’’ he said. “I’m just trying to figure out how to run a scout team. That was my number one objective today and I thought I did pretty well.
“I’ll get into futures later on. Right now my future is hey, I’m the second-string quarterback of the Giants and I got to get myself ready to play and do whatever I’m called upon to help out the rest of my teammates.’’
Shurmur said he had his message clear in his head when he summoned Manning on Tuesday but “when he walked in it kinda changed on the run for me.’’ He described the conversation as “two guys talking who have a good relationship.’’
Shurmur is not taking a flier on Jones, hoping for the best. He was asked directly if he believes playing Jones gives the Giants a better chance to win.
“Daniel Jones is ready to play and we’re going with him,” Shurmur said. “Yes. And the reason I say that is we do everything we can to win football games and at this point we feel he’s the guy we want to move forward with.’’
Jones always knew when this day came, there would be an awkwardness to it, given Manning’s standing within the franchise.
“Obviously it’s a unique circumstance, but I’m excited for the opportunity,’’ Jones said.
The defense has been abysmal and Manning played well in the season-opening loss to the Cowboys. Shurmur bristled when asked if he was blaming Manning for the 0-2 record.
“None of us have done what we need to do to win two games,’’ Shurmur said. “That’s what I would say about that notion. I don’t believe in the scapegoat thing.’’
Shurmur does believe Manning will be a great benefit to Jones, and that Manning knew what he signed up for once the Giants selected Jones with the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft.
“Obviously, I understand the circumstance and it’s a difficult one,’’ Jones said. “But he’s very supportive of me and I can’t say enough about who he is as a person, as a teammate, and he’s been that way since I’ve gotten here.’’
The relationship started with Manning as the starter. Not anymore.
“That was kind of part of the deal,’’ Manning said. “I’ve been trying to help him every which way I could throughout the preseason and training camp and whatnot. Now, still do that, answer his questions if he has any, don’t get him thinking too much, give him information I’ve learned after 15 years that I think he can use.’’
His message to Jones?
“Throw it to the guys in the same jersey as you,’’ Manning said. “Simple.’’