EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants are doing their best to undo the mess they've created, by giving Eli Manning his starting job back. It's the right thing to do, and the only way to really quell the mob building at their gates.
But what ever happened to their grand plan to take a look at their younger quarterbacks? Is that suddenly just not important anymore?
That's a reminder of just how badly the Giants continue to bungle the whole Manning Mess, and just how lost and dysfunctional this franchise has become. A week ago their season was lost, they were eying a Top 3 draft pick, and they were insistent -- from ownership on down -- that it was time to take a look at the young quarterbacks on their team.
One week later the basic facts haven't changed. Their season is still lost and they're still eyeing a Top 3 draft pick. But now they've apparently seen enough of Geno Smith in his one start and have no concrete plans to play rookie Davis Webb?
It seems like their only plan right now is to do anything they can to stop the bleeding and quiet the crowd.
And that's really no plan at all.
"The No. 1 focus right now is to figure out a way to beat the Dallas Cowboys, I can tell you that," Giants interim coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "Each week we'll talk about those other things, but right now, in the midst of everything that's going on, with the changes and whatnot, the focus is still going to be on beating Dallas."
Of course they created this -- with the help of now-former GM Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo -- and maybe there isn't an easy way out. They really, truly seemed to believe that when they benched Manning last week, everyone would see the wisdom of their ways. They never expected the firestorm from fans and media, and the bludgeoning they took from so many former players. It all became much more than they could bear.
But their clumsy handing of the situation aside, they really did have clear reasons for why they were benching Manning in the first place -- a plan co-owner John Mara now says he signed off on from the start. They believed they needed to take a look at Smith and Webb to see what else they had at quarterback before they got to the 2018 draft.
"With quarterbacks in particular, you don't know what you have until they're out there facing a pass rush, making decisions at critical points in the game and making plays," Mara said last Thursday. "So we want to get whatever information we can. Obviously we're going to have a high draft pick this year and there are going to be some quarterbacks available, so that's going to be a decision that we're going to have to make. But I'd like to make that decision at least having watched some of these guys play."
Mara even made it clear he wanted to see Smith and Webb in "some meaningful minutes … not just in a mop-up role with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter."
Smith got his meaningful minutes on Sunday in Oakland, and that figures to be it for him. Barring an injury, a team source said the 27-year-old former Jets starter is unlikely to play again. Next up would be the 22-year-old Webb, whom the Giants took in the third round out of Cal in the last draft.
So what are the plans for Webb now? Spagnuolo said that when he and Mara talked about the quarterback situation on Monday, the conversation centered around Eli Manning. The development of young quarterbacks "wasn't the top priority," he said.
"There's things that will be talked about ongoing," Spagnuolo said. "But we haven't really gotten there."
And it's hard to know for sure if they ever will.
"I mean, I'm hopeful that at some point he gets into the game," Mara said on Monday. "But right now, to be honest with you, after all this losing I'm just as focused on trying to win some of these games as anything else."
Never mind that winning games at this point would hurt the Giants -- which is true, no matter how strongly Mara told the Giants assistant coaches Monday morning that "I would not put up with any talk in this building about tanking." The lack of a plan for Webb and their sudden desire to win above all else is a complete reversal of where this franchise was a week ago.
Why? Just because everyone got angry? And if the Giants were going to bail on their plan to look at their young quarterbacks, why didn't Mara just step in a week ago and stop this ridiculous mess before it started?
This is a textbook example of how bad franchises behave. They operate in a state of perpetual chaos, changing philosophies every time the winds shift. And say what you want about the Giants and their lack of successes the last six seasons, they have rarely appeared to be a rudderless ship. Sometimes their plans haven't worked. Sometimes their decisions have been questionable. But they've always appeared to be following some sort of grand plan.
Not this time. Now it seems they are reacting to whims, not to mention deep divisions that existed among management about the direction of the franchise. The Giants just wasted a week of everyone's lives, embarrassed their franchise quarterback, and snapped his streak of 210 consecutive starts for absolutely nothing.
The one saving grace of this last week was that at least they were going to get a good look at Webb, so they'd have a real evaluation of his potential before they had to make a franchise-changing decision in the 2018 Draft.
Now they might not even get that, which means this whole exercise has been a complete waste of time.
Of course, given the way things are going with the Giants right now, their plan could always change again.