Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Giants Right to Bench Eli, but Now Heat Is On

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterSeptember 18, 2019

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) walks on the field after a preseason NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)
Sarah Stier/Associated Press

While the Giants start over at quarterback, things are looking up for the Cowboys, Patriots and Odell. Those topics and more in this week's 10-Point Stance.

   

1. The end of Eli

No one should be surprised by the benching of Eli Manning. It should have happened long ago.

This is the sixth time in seven years the Giants have started 0-2. They haven't been a factor in the league since 2011, when they won the Super Bowl. They made the playoffs in 2016, but their records from 2012 to 2018 were 9-7, 7-9, 6-10, 6-10, 11-5, 3-13 and 5-11.

Manning had a great run, and he won two Super Bowls for the team. He will always be remembered fondly by the organization and everyone who played with him.

He has 56,537 passing yards and 362 passing scores. There were the two Super Bowl wins, both against the Patriots, the most successful organization in the history of the league. He was twice the Super Bowl MVP. That is something a lot of quarterbacks and fans would take.

Yet his record is 116-116 in 232 starts, appropriately symbolic for Manning. He had flashes of brilliance inside deep pockets of average.

We saw his skills deteriorate. Yes, it was time to go.

Every player has this moment. Joe Montana was traded by the 49ers and finished his career in Kansas City. Jerry Rice moved on from the 49ers and played for the Raiders. The Colts didn't want John Unitas. Peyton Manning left Indianapolis. Dallas' Emmitt Smith, the all-time leading rusher, finished his career with the Cardinals.

All the greats had this moment. Manning is having his now.

Terry Bradshaw, the Hall of Fame quarterback and Fox analyst, had a differing opinion on Manning. Bradshaw believes Manning is being made a scapegoat by the team.

"If Daniel Jones would have taken over after eight games, and the Giants were 0-8 or 1-7, that's one thing," said Bradshaw, who was made available to B/R by the All About Your Boom campaign. "But doing it after two games tells me they are blaming Eli more than the football team."

"You and I both know the team isn't any good," Bradshaw added. "If you took Eli and put him in New England, he'd do great. I don't think Jones will make a difference."

What's not in question is that the Giants need a major injection of talent. Running back Saquon Barkley gets them partway there, but they need more.

The Giants recently have made a ton of terrible moves, but this one actually makes sense.

And Jones could be a disaster when the Giants play Tampa Bay this weekend. In fact, he likely will be. Todd Bowles wasn't a great head coach with the Jets, but as the Buccaneers' defensive coordinator, he's been excellent. He will likely throw defensive packages at Jones that will make his head spin.

The Eli move still makes sense. You knew what you were getting with Manning. It was going to be another five- or six-win season. The franchise used the sixth overall pick on Jones. Might as well see what he can do.

Manning will be remembered as a great Giant. It's also likely he makes the Hall of Fame based solely on the fact he was one of the only Patriots slayers.

Still, it was time.

   

2. Pressure on G-Men front office

One aspect of this move that's important and that people may not be considering: This absolutely puts a ton of pressure on Dave Gettleman, the team's general manager. He has been, so far, well, terrible at his job.

Trading Odell Beckham Jr. might go down as one of the worst deals in recent history. The Giants got Cleveland's first-round pick this year, a third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers for perhaps the best receiver of his generation.

What Manning's poor play did was act almost as a buffer for Gettleman (and to some degree coach Pat Shurmur). Gettleman could always say the team was struggling because of Manning.

Not only can that not be used as an excuse now, but Daniel Jones was also Gettleman's pick, and he selected him ridiculously high.

Jones will get time, as the team (and fans) will be patient with him (at least in the short-term), but if Jones isn't good, Gettleman could be gone.

   

3. Dak transforming Cowboys

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys walks off the field after losing the NFC Divisional Round playoff game to the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

What we're seeing in Dallas is the dominance of the new Big Three. The previous incarnation was in Pittsburgh with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le'Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown.

That Big Three has dissolved. The Cowboys' Big Three of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper has replaced it.

The Cowboys constructed the team around Elliott, but Prescott is changing how the Cowboys play offense.

He has been so accurate with deep passes that while Elliott is still the main engine, the Cowboys are becoming multidimensional.

Prescott threw a 51-yard touchdown to wide receiver Devin Smith on Sunday. That was his ninth touchdown of at least 50 yards since 2016, when he came into the league. According to ESPN Stats and Info, that ranks him second to only Tom Brady and Philip Rivers, who each have 11 in the same time span.

If this continues, and Prescott keeps burning teams deep, the Cowboys won't just be the new Big Three. They will be almost impossible to stop.

   

4. Badass, Part 1

As many loyal 10-Point readers (all four of you) know, we here at the 10-Point secret lair, located just down the tunnel from Batman's secret lair, like to highlight some of the amazing physical feats of players. One of the things we noticed this weekend was a throw by Aaron Rodgers.

Check it out above. If you don't realize it, there are probably only four or five quarterbacks in the league who can make this throw. I'd say Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and possibly Drew Brees. It is far more difficult than it looks and requires a lot of accuracy, hand-eye coordination and athleticism.

It's just remarkable. Every now and then, let's just pause and admire what these football humans can do.

   

5. Badass, Part 2

One more, and this is the Lions' Kerryon Johnson, who left defenders carrying their jocks. Again, NFL players can make the incredible look ordinary, but there's nothing about Johnson's ability that's average.

   

6. Pure dominance

The Patriots aren't just dominating early this season, they are dominating at a historic pace.

They've outscored opponents 76-3 after two games. That 73-point differential is the highest in league history since 1975, according to an ESPN broadcast. The 2002 Patriots had a 53-point differential, and the 1978 Cowboys had a 48-point differential.

Their offense is obviously good (and the Dolphins they faced in Week 2 are obviously bad), but the Patriots also have the No. 1 defense in football.

They are going to be hard to beat this year. They could (again) go unbeaten in the regular season.

   

7. Meanwhile in Miami

The Dolphins are achieving an almost unprecedented level of ineptitude. They have the greatest negative point differential after two games—92 points—since the 1961 Oakland Raiders, whose total was 99. The Dolphins aren't too far from the 116-point differential record set by the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons. That year also marked the first time a refrigerator was sold for domestic use. Those were fun times.

Unfortunately, the Dolphins will be setting this kind of terrible record all season.

   

8. 0-2 after 2

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Follow along with me here because this is really interesting. The Broncos lost 16-14 to Chicago on a last-second field goal by the Bears.

It seemed like the Broncos had this game. They converted a two-pointer with 31 seconds left and still lost. That made it a historic loss. Denver is the first team to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter with a two-point conversion and then lose, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

This horrible defeat put Denver at 0-2, but more significantly for the Broncos' outlook, it showed how weak their offense is. Joe Flacco made some good throws, and that extraordinary Bears defense is a wrecking ball, but the Broncos face the same problem they have for several years now: The offense just isn't that good.

   

9. Don't kiss your Cousins

By now you've seen the absolutely terrible throw by Kirk Cousins in the final minutes of the Packers game. It's the kind of throw you would expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to make (did you know Fitzpatrick went to Harvard?), not a quarterback who has an $84 million guaranteed contract.

Cousins does this all the time. He makes mistakes, particularly late in games, when the Vikings need him to be at his best.

What you may not know is how bad Cousins actually is late in games.

Cousins has nine fourth-quarter turnovers since 2018, when he went to Minnesota from Washington. To give some perspective on how bad that is, it's the most in that time span—more than Matthew Stafford, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen, each with eight (this according to an ESPN broadcast).

The Cousins signing is looking like one of the biggest busts in the past few years.

   

10. Beckham the Great

There was a scout who watched the Browns-Jets game Monday night, keeping a close eye on Beckham.

He's watched Beckham for years, all the way back to Beckham's LSU days. He's become convinced of something that, coming from him, a person who's watched football for decades, is pretty remarkable.

"Beckham is the best pure athlete in the history of the NFL," the scout said, "and maybe in sports history."

That's a pretty grandiose statement. It's also possibly true.

Saying Beckham is the best athlete in history is something that's impossible to calculate. Serena Williams, Jesse Owens, Bo Jackson, Jim Brown, Jim Thorpe and Deion Sanders all raise their hands.

But Beckham is up there, and it's fair to say Beckham is the best athlete in NFL history. I'm not saying he is. I'm saying it is more than fair to believe that. His fluidity, speed, explosiveness and multifaceted capabilities mean it's likely Beckham could excel at almost any sport he tried.

Take all those capabilities and apply them only to football, and that makes him one of the greatest athletes in league history.

What this means is the Browns have a once-in-a-lifetime generational talent, the way Jim Brown was, and he will make the Browns champions, the way Jim Brown did.

It may not happen this year. But it's probably going to at some point soon. Beckham's that good.

What you're seeing with the Browns is the slow assimilation of all the talent they have. The Browns acquired a Michael Jordan, and incorporating all that talent into a system instantly is impossible. It's taken a few weeks for Beckham to adjust to quarterback Baker Mayfield, and Mayfield to adjust to Beckham.

The circle is now complete. Adjustment time is over. It's clobberin' time now.

The one-handed catches are spectacular, but the 89-yard touchdown was an example of what makes Beckham historically unique. Beckham caught the ball between three defenders, accelerated, made a move and then accelerated again. It is something few players in history could do. At least not like that.

The Browns have issues, particularly with the offensive line and penalties, and Mayfield has been average (at best). Yet what you see is the Browns slowly figuring out the league and, most importantly, decoding themselves.

It's slower going than some thought it would be, but that figuring-out will eventually happen. It will happen because of Beckham, maybe the greatest athlete we've ever seen.

            

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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