In speaking to the media on Wednesday, Spagnuolo very confidently addressed questions for the first time as head coach. The aftermath of the firing of head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese earlier this week was something that Giants fans had been venting over for weeks, what given their 2-10 record and precipitous slide from being in the playoffs a year ago.
And no bigger move by Spagnuolo, who was the team’s defensive coordinator and now assumes the label of being the interim head coach, led to this sense of calm more than reinstating Eli Manning as the Giants’ starting quarterback.
Manning is a uniting force on this team. He’s steady and composed, something that a team in turmoil needs. He also is easily the best quarterback on the roster, something that two Super Bowl MVPs and four Pro Bowl selections can attest to.
Spagnuolo agreed when asked if Manning gives the Giants the best chance to win.
“Yeah. That would be a pretty good assessment because the first thing you focus on and think about is how are we going to find a way to win the football game and I think you all know how I feel about Eli and what happened and in the long run hopefully it’s a really good thing,” Spagnuolo said. “He walked in my office – I will tell you this – and as a coach, you want every player to walk in your office with intent, resolve and the determination that he has. So, I respect that.”
Given the salary cap hit next year and the fact that Manning is a proven and elite quarterback still, keeping the veteran happy and eyeing 2018 isn’t a bad thing.
For a team that doesn’t need a massive overhaul of talent, just a tweak or two here or there this offseason, Manning can still be a selling point to free agents. He also could be a vital stopgap and mentor should the Giants go with a quarterback in next spring’s NFL Draft.
But in the here and now, starting Manning this week is the right choice. This, even as it comes to late for a consecutive starts streak that sits at 210 games after being snapped last Sunday.
“Well, I think you just try to go out there and get better during the week and go win a football game. You’ve got to take it one at a time, but the fact that three of the four are in the division, I think those games are always important,” Manning said.
“When I think back on my career, I’ll remember the divisional games more than the others. So, home games and a chance to win these games and feel good about how we do in the division. I think that is important and try to go win a football game and feel good about it.”