EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The damage has already been done to Eli Manning. His feelings were already hurt. His streak was already snapped. The Giants already looked like clowns for the way they handled things.
Now that it's over, they need to take advantage of the miserable situation they created.
They need to take a look at rookie quarterback Davis Webb.
Maybe not next week at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, but certainly by the time they get to Arizona on Christmas Eve. There is nothing left to gain for the Giants by sending a 36-year-old Manning out there for the final three games of the season.
It's time to get a glimpse of their future. It's time to move on to 2018.
Of course, there is no indication at all that they're preparing to do that yet. In fact, a team source told SNY that the current plan is to stick by Manning as the starter, and "maybe" work Webb in to the second half of some games. Giants interim coach Steve Spagnuolo also stood by Manning after Sunday's 30-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. After first saying he didn't want to comment on his quarterback situation, he said that his "gut feeling" was that Manning would start again next Sunday.
"Look, without looking at it and evaluating, Eli Manning is the quarterback right now," he said. "Unless something crazy happens."
But it shouldn't take something crazy. It should take some common sense. This was the plan that everyone discussed with co-owner John Mara before he ended up firing head coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese. Mara was adamant that he wanted to get a look at his young quarterbacks -- Webb in particular -- in "meaningful" action down the stretch. He felt the Giants needed that before they determined whether to take a quarterback at the top of the draft in April.
So why did that plan only last one week?
The unspoken truth is that the Giants caved to the outrage -- perhaps rightfully so -- and put Manning back in the starting lineup over Geno Smith to avoid what would've been an ugly Sunday at the Meadowlands. Fans and former players were planning protests. The Giants were being portrayed as an uncaring, heartless franchise in desperate search of a clue.
So they stopped the bleeding and gave Manning back to their base. What did they get? Another toothless offensive performance and their 11th loss of the season.
What's the point of going through that again?
There is none, of course. And that's why the Giants need to work this week on increasing the practice reps for Webb, their third-round pick out of Cal who has taken the usual limited third-string, scout-team reps in practice all season long. It's time to get him ready to play and make him the backup quarterback next Sunday.
Then the Giants will have two games left to give him a legitimate look.
Two weeks ago, when the Giants benched Manning, Mara made it clear he wanted to give him a real, legitimate look.
"I don't know if this is going to give us all the information we need, but it's going to be better than nothing," Mara said. "It's better than just watching them run scout team out there every day. 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. So we want to get whatever information we can."
Chances are Webb will struggle. Chances are he won't thrive behind the same porous offensive line and with the same depleted receiving corps. Chances are he won't convince the Giants he really can be their quarterback of the future in just one or two starts. With the Giants almost certain now to be drafting in the top 3, if not the top 2, they will almost certainly draft a quarterback: UCLA's Josh Rosen or USC's Sam Darnold.
Maybe getting a look at Webb won't matter. But getting a few more looks at Manning would matter even less. The Giants know what they have in him. Their decision of whether to bring him back for 2018 won't rest on the final two meaningless games of the season.
There's no more streak to preserve. The bridges are already burned. Now, the Giants can do the best thing for their franchise and get a look at their young quarterback -- which ironically is what they had planned to do all along.