EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur cracked open the door to make the switch from quarterback Eli Manning to Daniel Jones. He might as well have let in a tsunami. There's no turning back now.
The Giants decided to begin the transition, naming Jones their starting quarterback for Week 3 on Tuesday. Throwing the rookie Jones into the mix on the road without Golden Tate (suspension), Sterling Shepard and Cody Latimer (both in the concussion protocol) may not be ideal. They are their top three wide receivers.
But there will never be a perfect time, and this is the right move. Jones will get his first regular-season action on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox).
The Giants (0-2) can now spend the rest of 2019 rebuilding like they should have two years ago when they were coming off a 3-13 season. Giving Jones in-game experience is the best way for this organization to become a contender as quickly as possible, because it's not happening with the 38-year-old Manning.
"There is no way you can learn how to play this game without playing this game," Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner said during the summer. "You can learn mentally and you can grow, but you can't become the player you're going to be by sitting down and watching. You have to get experience, and you have to face things."
Moving on from Manning should have happened two seasons ago when coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese -- both since exiled -- started the ball rolling by benching Manning in favor of Geno Smith in November. The Giants have gone 6-16 since backtracking on that decision, including losing their first two games this season. They're also 0-2 for the sixth time in seven seasons.
Manning is not fully to blame. His supporting cast isn't enough to carry a quarterback who is merely a passenger rather than a conductor at this point in his career. But Manning hasn't done much to make the pain stop. And to keep trotting him out there on a bad team with a porous defense makes no sense -- especially with the future of the franchise, Jones, who proved in the preseason he wouldn't be completely overwhelmed, sitting on the bench.
The Giants are going nowhere this season. Fast. Give them credit for finally realizing it.
It's really a shame the Giants reached this point when just about everyone outside their facility understood where they were headed. Manning shouldn't have returned for his 16th season once the Giants drafted Jones with the No. 6 overall pick.
The real mistake was living in a fantasy world and believing this roster put together by GM Dave Gettleman, with Manning as the starter, could be a playoff team. They conjured visions of the Kansas City Chiefs with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes and the Green Bay Packers with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
Except the Chiefs were 12-4 the season before they drafted Mahomes and a contender in his rookie year. The Packers were 10-6 before selecting Rodgers.
The Giants were 5-11 prior to taking Jones and got rid of several of their best players this offseason. To put themselves in the same category as those Chiefs or Packers teams, as Gettleman did, was delusional. Owner John Mara should have realized the ideal world in which Manning finished the season and Jones never played a snap wasn't realistic.
The Giants basically gave Manning an ultimatum to win or else. Guess how that went?
The reality is it took all of two weeks for Shurmur to realize the rookie out of Duke might give the Giants as good a chance -- or better -- to win than Manning. If not, at least the experience will benefit Jones and the Giants long-term.
"We're always trying to do what we can to win this next game. And then we're always behind the scenes having those long-term discussions. I think that is the challenge each week is doing what you can to win each game," Shurmur said Monday as the Giants pondered the possibility of Jones becoming the starter. "That's really my focus as the coach and certainly that is what the players' focus is."
The focus shouldn't be on whether the Giants are built for instant success or whether Jones will experience tough times playing with the supporting cast around him. Spoiler: They're not, and he will struggle.
Manning took over an even better team 10 games into 2004 and had his struggles. Look no further than when he threw for 27 yards and was pulled mid-game against the Baltimore Ravens. But Manning bounced back. He learned from that experience and was able to have a legendary career winning two Super Bowls against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The great ones always do rebound. If Jones isn't able to handle early failures such as Manning did during his rookie season, the likelihood is his career probably would have never amounted to much anyway. The great ones need to be resilient with a short memory. It's part of the job description.
The time has come to see if Jones has what it takes so the Giants can figure out sooner rather than later if he's the quarterback who will make them contenders again.