EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo has no regrets about how the eventual benching of quarterback Eli Manning went down and was adamant Friday that he’s “on the same page” as co-owner John Mara.
The Giants’ original plan — to have Manning start Sunday in Oakland before giving way at some point in the second half to Geno Smith — backfired. On Tuesday, McAdoo said the game plan was for each to play a half against the Raiders.
Mara presented a slightly different version Wednesday when asked if there was a better way they could’ve gone about phasing out their franchise quarterback.
“There probably is. Tell me what it is. I don’t know,” Mara said. “I mean, I didn’t necessarily think it had to be at the half. I think if he’s playing well in the first half, we’re winning the game, it looks like we’ve got a chance, the offense is clicking, I would argue then keep him in the game. But having him definitively come out at the end of the first half — I can understand why he would object.”
Smith will start Sunday against the Raiders. It will be the first time the Giants have a starter at quarterback other than Manning since Nov. 21, 2004.
“I was upfront and honest with Eli,” McAdoo said Friday. “I don’t have any regrets there.”
The move has created the latest firestorm in a season filled with drama. The Giants (2-9) have already been eliminated from the playoffs.
McAdoo insisted management was aware about how the situation was going to be handled. He said on multiple occasions they were on the same page.
He’s also not worried about his relationship with Mara, even though they hadn’t talked recently.
“I’m confident and comfortable with the way we communicate,” McAdoo said, “and our open lines of communication.”
The way the Giants handled the situation has been harshly criticized by current and former players. Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan told the NFL Network that the Giants didn’t handle the situation well and “this just isn’t right.” Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young said he would’ve told the Giants to “stick it.”
“Listen, it’s an emotional decision. I understand it. I get it. It’s a part of it,” McAdoo said of the reactions. “Again, you have to separate the emotions and your feelings and make a decision which you feel is right for the organization moving forward.”
McAdoo reiterated that the Giants need to evaluate the roster. That begins with Smith and, eventually, rookie Davis Webb, a third-round pick.
Webb’s practice workload has not increased this week, and he is unlikely to be active for the contest. Manning will be the backup behind Smith.
That could put McAdoo in the unfamiliar position, if something goes wrong, of asking Manning to enter the contest as a reserve, which he hasn’t done in a game since his rookie season.
“I haven’t done it before. So it would be different, but it wouldn’t be awkward,” McAdoo said. “It’s part of the game.”