As the New York Giants close out spring workouts this week with their final sessions of OTAs, coach Pat Shurmur seems to be laying a foundation for a potential quarterback battle during training camp in late July between Eli Manning and Daniel Jones.
Asked about the rookie's preparedness through the offseason workouts, Shurmur lit the match for an incendiary discussion that could take up the six weeks of downtime between the end of workouts this week and training camp next month.
"He's on track with the goal to be ready to play on Day 1," Shurmur said of Jones, via Tom Rock of Newsday. "The QB stuff will be on the front burner for everybody. I get that. But he's on track."
While the team has spent the offseason buttressing Manning, with GM Dave Gettleman cooing about how the veteran has multiple years of good play left, Shurmur just opened the door for Jones to potentially steal the gig.
The coach said, like every position, the team is "constantly" comparing the QBs trying to determine who gives the Giants the best chance to win.
"We're gonna play the very best player," Shurmur said, per Rock. "I know we're dancing around the words here, but right now Eli is getting ready to have a great year and Daniel is getting ready to play. We'll just see what happens. We feel good where Eli is, he's our starting quarterback, and we've got a young player that we think is going to be an outstanding player getting himself ready to play."
Shurmur seems to be talking out both sides of his mouth, given that Manning can't have a "great year" at the same time Jones plays. When it was pointed out that those two can't happen together, Shurmur replied:
Saying "have at it" to the New York media is like wagging a fresh steak in front of a pit bull. Shurmur just willingly invited discussions of Jones taking the starting job from Manning sooner than expected.
Given the cloak-and-dagger nature of coaches, we don't believe this was an accidental slip from Shurmur, but rather a calculated comment.
Eli Manning is the starter ... for now. What happens later depends on each player's performance during training camp, preseason and the beginning of the regular season. If Jones continues to impress with his athleticism and accuracy, he'll make the decision tougher down the line.
The leash for Manning was always going to be short given his play the past few years and the team using the No. 6 overall pick on a QB. Shurmur just yanked that leash a bit Tuesday.