EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants insist they are doing everything they can to get Davis Webb ready to play. And the rookie quarterback insists he prepares each week like he's a starter.
But Eli Manning knows there's really only one way to know whether a quarterback is ready to play in the NFL.
He has to actually play.
"Yeah, I mean I think you always think you're ready," Manning said on Monday. "You think you kind of have the answers until you're out there and you've got to make some decisions. Hey, are you going to make this check? Hey, I think this blitz is coming, but are you sure? And do you know how to pick it up? Or do you know how to have answers, or what your assignments are, or what you're going to do under a certain situation, where are your check downs?
"So there's a lot to learn. And honestly I believe the best way to do it is through experience and to get out there. Make the mistakes, see it all, and try to just find ways to get completions and move the ball."
That, of course, is a problem for the Giants because it's unlikely that the 22-year-old Webb is going to play this season. Since GM Jerry Reese and coach Ben McAdoo were fired, the Giants have apparently changed their plans to spend their remaining games evaluating their young quarterbacks. And interim coach Steve Spagnuolo has handed the reins back to the 36-year-old Manning and has indicated that's not likely to change.
Still, Spagnuolo insisted that they are working on preparing Webb, with more attention than a rookie, third-string quarterback would normally get.
"I will tell you this about Davis Webb: He is one of the most hard-working young men in this building," Spagnuolo said. "He's here all the time. He's a gym rat. And (quarterbacks coach) Frank Cignetti has done a great job with him the whole year in preparation for becoming an NFL quarterback. There are things they're doing together throughout the course of the week that you wouldn't normally do.
"I mean, Frank's got him thinking he could be the next quarterback in the game. He's prepped. He gets him out there before games and they go through an extensive, 40-minute throwing progression workout. There's tapes that Davis puts together for the quarterbacks during the week that's keeping him in the fold. So there's a lot of that ongoing preparation."
That's great, of course, except that ideally the Giants need to know if their third-rounder out of Cal can handle playing in the NFL before they decide whether to draft another quarterback at the top of the 2018 draft. And they'll certainly be in position to draft a good one, now that they're 2-11 and have strengthened their hold on the No. 2 overall pick.
But that takes time, as Manning remembered from the seven starts he made during a very rocky rookie season back in 2004. At times he really struggled, but in hindsight those were struggles he needed to go through.
"Yeah, I think that's part of it," Manning said. "There is a growing pain to playing quarterback in this league and that's just part of it. Obviously some guys have come in and played well right away, but they're usually surrounded by a talented team. But I think every game you play, you learn from it."
Webb, though, is unlikely to get those learning experiences this season -- and perhaps he never will with the Giants. That means that at least for now his preparation is up to the coaches. And yes, Manning does what he can to help his potential replacement, too.
"I think you're always communicating in the quarterback room, whether it's Geno [Smith] or whether it's Davis," Manning said. "You're just talking football, communicating, going over possible checks, going over your adjustments, or what plays you like, or what looks good. So it's not necessarily getting him ready, it's just a matter of talking things out, talking ideas and just having great conversations in the quarterback room."