Over four months after opting to select running back Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, passing on opportunities to pick up one of the four highly-reputed rookie quarterbacks entering this season, the New York Giants announced they have waived Davis Webb. Webb was the presumed backup to starting quarterback Eli Manning.
As of now, the Giants do not have a sufficient backup quarterback. Lauletta and Tanney both lack the moxie necessary to be immediate solutions should Manning go down. While Webb was a little too hyperactive in the first week of preseason to be productive, he had shown significant improvement in the past weeks, and nearly convinced the fans that he is, in fact, the right guy to take over the G-Men’s offense.
What Losing Davis Webb Means for the New York Giants
New York drafted Davis Webb in 2017—an early third-round pick by former showrunners Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo. After ridding themselves of Geno Smith last year, Webb was the heir apparent to the Giants quarterback position, provided new leaders Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman didn’t draft a stud quarterback (they didn’t). Webb was praised in his rookie year by his teammates, who described his practice performances as similar to a young Manning. Despite spending most of his time waiting in the wings for the end of Manning’s career, Webb saw a bit of playtime last year. By the end of the season, Webb usurped Smith as the second-string quarterback.
Allegedly, the Giants organization sought out a trade partner for Webb or Lauletta early this past weekend. When Webb sat out of the preseason finale, most assumed he was being rested to avoid injury. Certainly, the game was an opportunity to shop Lauletta and continue auditioning Tanney. The franchise allegedly spoke with the Oakland Raiders, who made several questionable moves of their own on Saturday. Upon no avail, they elected to cut Webb from the roster, leaving an eclectic mix of quarterbacks, and quite a bit of concern.
The Heirs Unapparent
Lauletta, a fourth-round draft pick this year out of Richmond, played significantly in the preseason. After noteworthy plays in the second week against the Detriot Lions, like THIS ONE and THIS ONE, Lauletta started in the fourth week against the New England Patriots. Post-draft, I noted in my review that Lauletta had been praised for his adaptability in his college career. The Spiders underwent several head coaching changes during Lauletta’s tenure at Richmond. His ability to transition through multiple schemes and leaders was particularly attractive to the Giants, who have made several noteworthy changes of their own recently.
Tanney is the textbook picture of a second- and third-string quarterback. After signing with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Tanney went on injured reserve within his first months with the team. Six franchises later, Tanney signed with the Giants this past May. An unaccomplished professional quarterback, Tanney completed 18/33 passes in preseason.
Neither of these guys has proven that they are the future of the Giants when Eli Manning has finished his career in East Rutherford. Tanney is a veteran backup, and Lauletta is still very much growing into professional form. So why is Webb no longer in the ring? The second overall draft selection of Barkley as opposed to one of four formidable quarterbacks now has us stumped. Logically, the Giants wouldn’t pass on a franchise quarterback for a running back, no matter how talented. Right?
This past February, I suggested that Pat Shurmur had big plans up his sleeve for the role of quarterback. Sam Bradford has followed Shurmur around for years, and could theoretically continue to New York. While Bradford isn’t the quarterback of the future, he still has a few good years left in him. Using Bradford as a bridge could allow the staff to train the next franchise quarterback.
While Manning’s preseason play implies he still has good play left in him, Tanney hardly seems like an appropriate choice. Tanney earning a roster spot is astounding enough to believe there’s more to the Webb release than meets the eye.
Last Word on Losing Webb
Is fear over a Manning successor premature? Absolutely not. If Manning gets hurt, as many quarterbacks of his age do, the Giants only have two underwhelming options. Either an unaccomplished Tanney in the backup role or rookie Lauletta. Tanney, now on his eighth team, is coming off a season on injured reserve, after which he was released from the Tennessee Titans for the second time. Tanney’s roster history is evidence that he is unfit to lead an NFL team. His lone career touchdown confirms this hypothesis.
Lauletta, on the other hand, actually shows promise. The biggest worry with the rookie is forcing him to start before he’s ready. Since the New York Jets announced Sam Darnold will start Week 1, my theory will be tested that the fastest way to ruin a quarterback is to inflict on him the pressures of starting at the top of their rookie season. Starting Lauletta before he’s been properly groomed could prove fatal to his career, and to the future of the Giants franchise.
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. We’ll begin to see how things unfold in less than a week when the G-Men face the most vicious defense in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars. As usual, we’ll have our analyses ready for you right here at Last Word on Sports.
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