The Eli Manning Era is over, whether the Giants are ready to make it official or not.
It came to an end on Monday morning when Pat Shurmur reversed course and flung open the door he had been trying so hard to keep closed. Just 20 hours after he said it wasn't time to have the conversation, he decided "it's fair" to now talk about benching the 38-year-old Manning in favor of 22-year-old rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.
At that moment, Manning was done. Only the final arrangements need to be ironed out.
Because here's the deal about quarterback controversies, especially when they happen in New York: Once they start, there's no way to stop them. Shurmur probably already realized that, being questioned constantly since the summer about whether he's considering a quarterback change. And no matter how many times he tried to put out that fire, he always left a spark.
Now everything is burning. The Giants are 0-2. Their defense is horrendous. The receiving corps is a mess. They don't look at all like the playoff team they thought they would be. The outside world already wanted Jones in for Manning, as if Manning is the reason for this colossal mess. They want it, if for no other reason than the Giants have to do something, anything, to at least try and put their trash fire out.
So Shurmur's words on Monday morning were like gasoline. And it leaves him with only two choices for the immediate future. He can make the switch right now and bench the franchise icon to start Jones on Sunday afternoon in Tampa. Or if not, he has to be ready to do it the minute Manning, or even the Giants undermanned offense, starts to struggle again -- even if it's in the middle of a game.
Because if you think the Giants quarterback situation was controversial before, you ain't seen nothing yet. Every three-and-out, every interception, every misfired pass, and even every drop by receiver or a sack, will be seen by almost everyone as a reason to make the move. The screams of "What is he waiting for?" will be deafening, and logic will be out the window. It won't matter if it's Manning's fault. It won't matter if Jones can do better, or if putting a rookie under center will make things exponentially worse.
All that will matter is that Shurmur opened the door. He said he's considering the move. Now he has to make it. There's no more waiting for things to get better. There's no clinging to fantastical postseason hopes. Unless Manning suddenly morphs into Patrick Mahomes and the Giants go on what would be one of the most unlikely winning streaks in their long history, there will be an opportunity to make the move in the coming days and weeks.
And as soon as he sees it, Shurmur can't afford to pass it up.
If he does, the pressure will be way too much. Players will take sides, you can guarantee that. Former players are going to take sides, too (mostly Manning's side). Fans will turn up the heat on the organization, which tends to matter more than the organization lets on. And this will become the only topic any competent reporter asks about for the foreseeable future.
Because nothing else will matter in a season that is lost.
Now, it definitely could be argued that Shurmur would've been better served by not saying anything about his quarterback plans until he was ready to make the move, and just stepping to the podium one day and saying "It's done." Instead, he chose to tease it, setting off alarm bells that everyone knows signals the end of one era and the beginning of another.
This can't be just a tease, though. The wheels are in motion and there is no turning back. The Manning Era is over. The Jones Era is dawning. And it's all going to happen sooner than later.
Barring one last Manning miracle on the field -- assuming he even gets that opportunity -- there's nothing Shurmur or anyone else can do to stop that now.