PHILADELPHIA — The Giants tried to play a professional football game without a professional quarterback Sunday, and man, it was a sight to behold. They actually did line up Jake Fromm and Mike Glennon behind center, but they would have been better off summoning Eli Manning straight off his couch, without a single warm-up throw, and asked him to give it the old college try.
Some NFL people believe that when you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback. But all NFL people believe that when you have no quarterback, you have no chance.
So now the Giants are a few country miles beyond broken. They can’t block, they can’t tackle, they can’t run, they can’t pass and they can’t even punt. They were humiliated at the Linc, their personal house of horrors, by an Eagles team (now 8-7) that only the Giants could make look like an indomitable force, losing 34-10 to fall to 4-11.
Everything comes undone in the NFL when you don’t have a quarterback. So the Giants should do everything they can in the offseason to get one with a stunning record of availability and high-level performance.
Russell Wilson would be the best quarterback the Giants have ever dressed.
You have heard and read the reports — dating back to last offseason — that Wilson would seriously entertain a trade from the Seahawks, and that (more recently) the Giants are very high on his wish list. It sure can’t be for football reasons, based on the fact that the Giants have lost 10 or more games for five straight years, and for eight of the last nine. If Wilson watched any of what went down here under the sun in Philly before losing to Chicago in the Seattle snow, he might have jumped on the phone with his agent to perform an immediate arthroscopic procedure on that list.
But Wilson understands what a successful second act in New York could mean for his legacy, and Giants fans should be saying hallelujah to that. A truth that brings us to Adam Schefter’s ESPN report stating that the team has already decided to bring back head coach Joe Judge (for a third season) and quarterback Daniel Jones (for a fourth). Jones has a career record of 12-25, and Judge has a career record of 10-21. If these guys ever get to .500, the big city should throw them a ticker-tape parade.
Schefter has a league-leading batting average on these things, though he did add that the general manager who inevitably replaces Dave Gettleman might turn the plan sideways by pushing to replace Judge with his own preferred candidate. But I don’t believe the new GM will have any wiggle room when it comes to Judge, even if the Giants lose to Chicago and Washington and finish 4-13.
I do believe the new GM will have something of an opening at quarterback. And the new GM should drive a Mack truck through that opening.
Though Jones has the physical gifts to be a good starter, Wilson is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who is finally having his first down year after nine consecutive winning seasons, eight of them with 10 or more victories. His 2021 slump can be attributed to the finger injury that compromised his throwing hand, to his rush back from surgery that forced him to miss starts for the first time, and to the fact that the Seahawks aren’t any good. If they’re not as bad as the Giants, they are indeed bad enough to lose in the final seconds to the Bears at home.
But all in all, Wilson strings together double-figure winning seasons as impressively as the Giants string together double-figure losing seasons. Even though his current team stinks, Wilson’s quarterback rating was 99.0 entering Sunday — a higher number than Manning’s best year (93.6 in 2015).
And that’s really what Wilson is at day’s end, a better Eli Manning, who is arguably the best offensive player in franchise history. Like Manning, Wilson is the ultimate ironman, making 172 out of 175 possible regular-season and postseason starts. But while Manning finished as a .500 regular-season quarterback (117-117), Wilson’s career winning percentage is .657 (102-53-1), better than John Elway’s, Johnny Unitas’s, and Brett Favre’s. Russ’s career quarterback rating is 17 points higher than Eli’s, and his career completion percentage is nearly five points higher than Eli’s. Wilson would have also matched Manning’s two Super Bowl rings if not for one of the all-time coaching blunders in sports history.
Yes, it will take a ton of creative salary cap maneuvering and the sacrifice of draft-pick assets needed to rebuild a dreadful roster. But a great quarterback elevates everyone around him. Wilson’s pocket presence and decision-making skills alone will improve the offensive line and the entire team.
He is 33 and, like Aaron Rodgers, has said he wants to play into his 40s. Tom Brady might play into his late-40s. Quarterbacks can live forever these days, so Wilson’s age shouldn’t be a major concern.
In the end, as a leader who carries himself with dignity and grace, Wilson is a Giants quarterback out of central casting. He’s a better Eli Manning, still in his prime, which seems the closest thing to a lifesaver for a franchise that keeps sinking to unfathomable depths.