For Pete's Sake

Giants’ decision to start Geno Smith over Eli Manning could impact AFC West race

New York Giants quarterbacks Geno Smith (left) and Eli Manning warmed up before a game earlier this month.
New York Giants quarterbacks Geno Smith (left) and Eli Manning warmed up before a game earlier this month. The Associated Press

Eli Manning’s last win as a member of the New York Giants may have come against the Chiefs on Nov. 19.

The Giants announced Tuesday that they are starting Geno Smith, the former West Virginia star, on Sunday in Oakland. The move has implications on the AFC West race as the Raiders (and Chargers) are just one game back of the Chiefs in the division.

Because the Giants are 2-9 and out of the playoff race, they are playing games with an eye on 2018. That could benefit Oakland on Sunday.

“This is not the way it should be, but unfortunately, it’s where we are,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said on the team’s website. “Our number one priority every week is to go win a game, but we owe it to the organization to get an evaluation of everybody on the roster, and that includes at the quarterback position.

“I’ll say it again, I have the utmost respect for Eli and everything he has done for this organization throughout his career. He is the consummate professional. He doesn’t like the position we are in, and neither do any of us. Eli has had to deal with a lot this season. Through it all, he has done everything we have asked of him in getting that unit ready to play. He has been steady, just like he has always been.”

Manning has made 210 consecutive starts, the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history, behind Brett Favre (297). Manning, who helped the Giants win two Super Bowl titles, said the streak wasn’t important.

“Coach McAdoo told me I could continue to start while Geno and Davis (Webb) are given an opportunity to play,” Manning said on the team’s website. “My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them.

“Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak. Like I always have, I will be ready to play if and when I am needed. I will help Geno and Davis prepare to play as well as they possibly can.”

Smith is in his first season with the Giants and has thrown two passes (both incompletions). He spent the previous four seasons with the Jets and struggled mightily, throwing 36 interceptions and 28 touchdown passes.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff