The Giants may have made a mistake when they cut Davis Webb, and they might be making a mistake by making Alex Tanney their backup quarterback. But the truth is, neither move really matters.
Because if Eli Manning gets hurt, the Giants are screwed.
That's nothing new, either, because too often over the years the Giants have approached their backup quarterback spot as if they're expecting Manning to be immortal, not as if they tempting fate with an aging quarterback who is overdue to get hurt. With a few notable exceptions over the last 15 seasons, the Giants have rarely had a backup quarterback that would've made anyone feel comfortable if he suddenly had to play.
That's the way it is this year, too. Whether it's Tanney, Webb, rookie Kyle Lauletta, or an off-the-street prize like Matt McGloin, this year is really just more of the same. The Giants desperately need Manning, even at age 37, to remain the Iron Man he always has been.
Otherwise, you might as well just fast forward to 2019.
The strange thing about this year, though, is you'd think Pat Shurmur, of all coaches, would know better. He spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Vikings, where if everything had worked perfectly Teddy Bridgewater would've been their quarterback. But he got hurt late in the summer of 2016 and the Vikings had to scramble to trade for Sam Bradford, a three-year starter once for the St. Louis Rams, who actually helped the Vikings off to a 5-0 start.
Then last year, with Bridgewater still unavailable, Bradford started the opener and then his surgically repaired knee acted up. That led the Vikings to turn to journeyman Case Keenum, who was just solid and professional enough to help the Vikings reach the NFC championship -- where, by the way, they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, who had lost their starting quarterback and were being led by their experienced backup, Nick Foles.
So Shurmur knows from experience that he needs a backup with experience. He even admitted on Wednesday, when he all but announced that Tanney would be his primary backup, that he wanted a backup with experience. He doesn't want to have to trust his team to some young kid (he's looking at you, rookie Kyle Lauletta) who isn't quite ready play.
The Giants believe -- they really, truly believe -- they can be a contender this season. So if Manning gets hurt, Shurmur wants -- and needs -- someone who can help the Giants win now.
"I'm very fond of a veteran presence backing up Eli," Shurmur said. "Forget about the future. The future is now. Every NFL team is going to go into this year with a guy who's a starter and a guy who's his backup. The future is now, so that's where we're at."
OK sure, but Alex Tanney? He's a 30-year-old, former undrafted free agent out of a Division III school who is in his seventh year in the NFL and playing for his eighth team. Actually, "playing" isn't accurate. He's been active for one NFL game, on Jan. 3, 2016 when he relieved Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the final game of a 3-13 season and completed 10 of 14 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown in a 30-24 loss to the Colts.
In midseason, if the Giants are on the fringe of a playoff chase, and the unthinkable-but-maybe-inevitable happens and Manning gets hurt, how is that experience going to help the Giants win?
And at that point, how good would it have looked if the Giants had been the team that acquired Bridgewater from the Jets for a third-round pick?
Manning, yesterday, touted all the knowledge Tanney has due to the many NFL offenses he's been forced to learn. He had nice things to say about how good it is to have someone who has been in the NFL that he can talk to as they game plan for a new opponent each week.
And that's nice. But if Manning gets hurt, what they'll really need is someone who can play.
And that has been true for years, through a long line of inexperienced and/or unimpressive backups, such as Ryan Nassib, Geno Smith and Curtis Painter. They had a pretty experienced backup in Anthony Wright in 2007, and former first-overall pick David Carr was the backup for the most part from 2008-2012. Those were the gold standards during the Super Bowl years when the Giants expected to win every season.
Very few of the others gave anyone reason to believe that if Manning went down the Giants could stay afloat.
Now it's true, not many teams have a quality backup at quarterback. There also aren't many options currently available unless the Giants want to bring in Colin Kaepernick -- and there's no evidence that they do. They worked out McGloin -- who has seven starts in five NFL seasons, but only one since 2013 -- on Tuesday because he's the best of a sorry available bunch. Unless you prefer free agents like Matt Moore or Tom Savage, or are hoping they'll lure Jay Cutler out of retirement.
After giving the backup quarterback position seemingly little thought during the offseason, right now Tanney really might be the best they can do.
And maybe that won't be a problem, because history -- and Manning's luck and genetics -- are on the Giants' side. After all, the only thing that has disrupted Manning's career so far has been Ben McAdoo's ego. He hasn't had many injuries, none of them have been serious, and so far he's managed to play through them all.
Will that incredible good fortune continue? The Giants better hope so. Because their Plan B if Manning is lost at any point during the season, as usual isn't much of a plan at all.