When the Giants made their last big, permanent quarterback switch 15 years ago, Kurt Warner didn't see it coming. He wasn't happy. He thought he had more time. He was sure he was still the Giants best quarterback.
But as soon as they told him he was being benched for a young Eli Manning nine games into the 2004 season, Warner made it clear to the Giants they should never put him back in.
He knew then what Pat Shurmur needs to know now: Once a move this big is made, there's no turning back. No matter what happens over the next 14 games, no matter how much Jones may struggle, no matter how many losses pile up, Daniel Jones is the Giants quarterback and it has to stay that way.
The Giants must resist any temptation to give Manning his old job back.
Of course, at the moment, they have no intention of ever giving Manning his job back, but things do have a way of changing. This is a fact: Rookie quarterbacks struggle. It happens to almost all of them. There are defenses and coverages that they couldn't have possibly seen yet, and blitz packages being designed to rattle them every day.
The 22-year-old Jones will struggle too. And his struggles might be compounded by the fact that the Giants receiving corps is in disarray. Even if he starts out fast, things figure to get tougher as the season goes along. There will come a point where it just doesn't look like he belongs.
And it's at that moment that the Giants must remain resolute. They must grit their teeth and endure whatever happens, no matter how bad it is. Because starting right now, this entire season isn't about winning or the playoffs. It's about making sure Jones is ready for the 2020 season. It's about his development, his growing pains, his learning experience.
That must continue uninterrupted the rest of the way.
Now, there are exceptions, of course. There's no science behind the making of a quarterback. Manning was sent to the bench during his fourth NFL start after an absolutely disastrous performance in a game in Baltimore. He was 4-of -8 for 27 yards with two interceptions when the Giants pulled him and let Warner finish the game.
That was the only time I can ever recall seeing Manning look rattled after the game.
His play picked up after that, but not due to the benching. In fact, it was more due to the pounding he took on the field. He was so upset, he sought out then-offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on the train ride back to New York for a heart-to-heart talk about his play, the offense, and what he was able to do. He knew he hit rock bottom, and it helped him find a way back up.
There's also the case of Sam Darnold, who seemed to benefit greatly from a four-game absence last season. He was on a three-week slide that culminated with a four-interception nightmare in a loss at Miami in Week 9. An injured foot kept him out of the next three games -- four weeks, thanks to a well-timed bye -- and when he returned he was much improved, throwing six touchdowns and just one interception in the four games down the stretch.
A valid case can be made that he benefited from sitting and watching Josh McCown for those four weeks. But the situations are different. For one, Darnold was the Jets' opening day starter and started every preseason game, too. That was actually the first chance he had to sit and watch a veteran prepare. Jones has already had that opportunity throughout the summer and through the first two weeks. In a sense, he's already had his break to catch his breath.
Also -- and this matters -- Darnold's backup was Josh McCown, a journeyman starter with no long-term history with the Jets. Nobody stressed about McCown being benched for the rookie -- not in the organization, the fanbase or the locker room. There was no baggage there. Jones, meanwhile, is replacing a Giants legend, and the switch isn't exactly non-controversial.
What if the Giants switch back and Manning plays well and the Giants start winning? Reversing this decision could open a door that the Giants would find difficult -- and messy -- to close.
So the simple solution is this: Don't. Make sure, barring injury, that last week was the last anyone has seen of Manning on the field for the Giants. If they want to give him a ceremonial sendoff in the season finale against the Eagles. OK, why not? That seems like a nice gesture and it would come at a likely meaningless point in the season.
But otherwise, Jones' development must continue uninterrupted. This is now about getting him experience. So let him experience it all, good and bad.