John Madden used to say, “If you have two quarterbacks, then you have none,” the sentiment being that you need to have a clear No. 1, not a quarterback controversy.
The Giants have a clear No. 1, Eli Manning. Washington has a quarterback carousel, with Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins all taking their turns this season. Giants’ fans may occasionally bemoan the services of Manning, but at least they don’t have to spread the disdain among his backups. Thanks to Manning’s NFL-high 175-game starting streak at quarterback, 175 percent of Giants fans can’t pick backup quarterback Ryan Nassib out of a police lineup.
Two years ago, Washington was seemingly flush at quarterback. RGIII won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, and Cousins filled in tremendously when Griffin went down with injury. Both seemed like legitimate franchise quarterbacks.
But then Mike Shanahan’s administration decided to rush RGIII back from injury, Griffin subsequently blew out his knee in the 2012 playoffs and hasn't been the same since, and Cousins revealed himself to be lackluster.
Now, less than two years after being named a better offensive rookie than Andrew Luck, RGIII is reportedly punting balls to himself at Washington practices and seemingly on the fast track to a padded room with no windows.
Such is the life of a quarterback who has Colt McCoy looking over his shoulder, I guess.
Manning, conversely, has had a vise grip on the starting job since late 2004. Sure, he’s led the NFL three times in interceptions over that time, but he’s also led the team to two Super Bowl wins.
Additionally, the Giants did him the huge favor of never bringing anyone in to challenge him. Maybe that’s stupid on the part of the Giants (especially since the team has now missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six years), but Manning has never been the sole thing holding this team back.
Say what you want about Manning, but as quarterbacks go, he’s as tough as they come. Since 2004, he’s been sacked 278 times, and yet he’s still got the longest active starting streak among NFL quarterbacks.
Maybe Giants fans wish he had taken a game or 10 off, but honestly, what QB situation would you rather have? The one in New York, where there is a clear No. 1 (albeit a low-end No. 1 these days), or the one in Washington, where there’s a collections of No. 2s?
Since Manning began his starting streak in November 2004, Washington has started these quarterbacks: Patrick Ramsey, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy.
You can’t unsee that.
If the Giants do make the decision to part ways with Manning after this season, saving $17.5 million against the salary cap, then rest assured that teams like Washington will be lining up for his services.
Is Manning an elite quarterback? No. But he’s a clear No. 1, which is always better than having two No. 2’s.