Tiki Barber: Eli Manning Is Not The Problem, But His Giants Career Likely Over

The New York Giants will start Geno Smith at quarterback this Sunday against the Raiders, as Eli Manning’s streak of 210 consecutive regular-season starts will come to an end.

Yes, you read that sentence correctly.

“It’s shocking,” former Giants running back Tiki Barber said on Tiki and Tierney. “We’ve had this conversation about what’s ailing the New York Giants, and for most of the season – even though the last couple of games there have been some bad misses by Eli, just throws that were nowhere near the target. But for most of the season, if you ask me what’s wrong with them, the last person I’m pointing to is Eli. I’m saying their O-Line is not good, they’re not running the ball, their wide receivers are young and unproven obviously with (Sterling) Shepard being hurt, Eli Apple has been terrible, Odell was done for the season, Brandon Marshall got hurt – there were so many other places to point. You don’t say, ‘Oh, this is definitely Eli’s fault.’”

At 2-9, the Giants are closing in one of the worst seasons in franchise history. From that standpoint, Barber understands why the Giants are benching their soon-to-be-37-year-old quarterback.

But to bench a two-time Super Bowl champion for Geno Smith? Really?

“If you’re cashing in the season and saying there’s nothing we’re building on for next year and we might as well get some young guys reps, why not go with Davis Webb?” Barber asked. “That’s the guy you drafted (in the third round). Not Geno Smith, who was drafted by the Jets four years ago. (He) went through a bunch of different coordinators, but he’s not seen as the future of really anybody. Maybe just kind of a backup with Geno Smith. To make this switch is one thing; to make it for Geno – and not Davis Webb – is what’s leaving me scratching my head, unless they actually do see Geno, who’s still a young man, as the guy to potentially fill in for Eli.”

Manning, who was drafted in 2004, has spent his entire playing career with the Giants. But his future with the franchise is very much in doubt.

Could this be the end of Eli in New York?

“You almost have to say yes,” Barber said. “You have to – unless he’s going to serve in a backup capacity. How does he reascend to the starting role? To me, this says Eli’s career is done in New York, especially as a starter because you wouldn’t do this otherwise. He’s up there (in salary). So if he’s not going to be your guy, I’m confounded by this. I’m surprised. I’m shocked. Because I didn’t see him as a problem. I saw everything else around him as the problem.”

That’s fair, Brandon Tierney said, but while Manning might not be the problem, he is no longer the answer. He can no longer make good players great.

Which is why Manning may look to go to a team that is a quarterback away from contention.

“I wouldn’t be shocked if he did,” Barber said. “I wouldn’t. If he still feels like he can play and he can find the right situation where he’s not with a developing or undeveloped offensive line, I could see him playing for a different team, putting on a different uniform, and playing quarterback.”

The Giants, who have dropped four of five, face Oakland this Sunday before home games against Dallas (5-6) and Philadelphia (10-1). They also host Washington (5-6) in the final game of the season on Dec. 31.

Three NFC East match-ups, all at home – and none worth attending. Not as Giants fans, anyway.

“There have been some bad teams in the history of the New York Giants,” Barber said. “I think this might be one of the worst that I’ve seen, but there’s always been a reason to come to the stadium. Who are you saying that about with the New York Giants right now?”

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