Eli Manning Better Not Decide to Start Winning Games For the Giants

Liam McKeone
Eli Manning
Eli Manning / Dylan Buell/Getty Images

In what is very likely his final season as an NFL player, Eli Manning will get at least one last start. Pat Shurmur said Daniel Jones is unlikely to play this coming Monday against the Eagles after suffering a sprained ankle against the Packers, which means Manning will re-take his starting position.

This will be a minor footnote in the grand scheme of Manning's career. But the Giants have more than one might think riding on his performance this week.

In the latter half of his career, Manning has been quite inconsistent. The worst thing that could happen to the Giants right now would be for Manning to suddenly decide to pull a rabbit out of his hat and win some games as New York jockeys for position at the top of the draft pole.

Sure, beating the Eagles would grant Giants fans a certain level of schadenfreude; it would all but ensure the Eagles' exile from the playoffs, and watching a 37-year-old Manning beat them to put the final nail in their coffin is surely something every Giants fan has dreamed about. But, as enjoyable as that would be, the most important thing for New York to do right now is lose games. It would be very Eli Manning to stumble into a few wins in the last month of the season if the Giants decide to shut Jones down.

The Giants currently sit alone with the second-worst record in the NFL, in line for the second overall pick for the NFL Draft. If they remain there, it's the perfect outcome. They'd be in prime position to take Chase Young, the best overall prospect in the 2020 Draft and the player who could fix their biggest problems.

Important to that pursuit, two of their next four games come against the teams directly behind them: Miami and Washington. The Giants aren't a good team, and Manning is no longer a good quarterback, but it's easy to envision Manning making the handful of throws needed to beat their fellow cellar-dwellers and push New York back from the second pick into the back half of the top 10.

It would be quite a feel-good story for Manning to ride off into the sunset with a set of vintage performances. He also has a .500 record for his career right now (116-116) so getting above the Mendoza line would be helpful for his legacy. But it would hurt the Giants more than any amount of warmth that could be derived from such a circumstance. Going from drafting Chase Young at No. 2 to, say, Jeff Okudah at No. 6 doesn't sound like the worst thing in the world, but Young isn't just any prospect. If New York misses out on a potentially generational pass-rusher because ole Eli pulls off a miracle or two, they'll be regretting it for a long time.