Eli Manning Has Already Made Unofficial Coaching Debut; Who’s Next?

Eli Manning
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 06: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants walks off the field after the game against the Minnesota Vikings at MetLife Stadium on October 06, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Replacing Eli Manning as the starting quarterback of the New York Giants was the brilliant move that nobody saw coming; not after the franchise made apparent their belief that his successor, of all young and available quarterbacks, was Daniel Jones. The sixth overall 2019 draft pick spurred outcries for the firing of general manager Dave Gettleman, and awakened a new kind of what can only be described as hatred, in fans across the nation. And then, Jones led the G-Men to their first regular season victory. And then, the second. And then a loss against a vicious Minnesota Vikings defense, sure. But now, who knows what’s possible for the remainder of the troubled team’s season? One thing is certain; Jones isn’t going anywhere.

Eli, now at what will presumably be his final career season (his contract ends after this year), has taken on a new role with the team he’s loved since he asked to be traded on his draft day 15 years ago. He’s the backup, sure. And with Jones’ crazy out-of-pocket tendencies, old faithful might see the field before the year is out. But it seems now that he exists primarily as DJ’s mentor and personal coach. And after this year, don’t expect to see him charming America in commercials like his brother, Peyton, or commentating like his father, Archie. Eli Manning, two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, is destined to coach.

Eli Manning and Other Quarterbacks-Turned-Coaches of the Future

Destiny in Practice

Daniel Jones isn’t technically Eli Manning’s first venture as a “coach” of sorts. Many NFL players spend their off-seasons working the camp circuit, preening the techniques and advising the careers of the next generation of football talents. Manning and his brothers Peyton and Cooper, and father Archie, founded the Manning Passing Academy in 1996. The clinic, held annually at Nicholls State University in Louisiana, works with rising eighth grade through rising senior-aged players in coaching four positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end. Accomplished professionals in these positions contribute to the camp staff each year.

But until now, Eli Manning’s experience as a coach and advisor was limited to the NCAA. Other than Manning’s comments to the press about working with Daniel Jones on a mentor-level, he’s given no real indication yet about whether he has interests in calling signals from the sidelines. Undeniable, however, is Manning’s capability to do so. In the last couple of years, his time under the clock hasn’t produced significantly fruitful statistics. But his experience, leadership, and broad library of playbook material lend themselves perfectly to a new chapter of NFL employment. And he’s not the only one who might follow in the footsteps of so many coaches who were formerly NFL quarterbacks.

The Gentile Gunslinger – Captain Luck

Recently retired Andrew Luck couldn’t have been more born into football if he’d been conceived in a locker room and birthed on the 50-yard line. His father Oliver Luck, a former college and professional quarterback, has worked as a general manager in the World League of American Football and is still in the business as the current commissioner of the XFL. An athletic scholarship to Stanford catapulted Andrew’s career into the record books. After playing his entire seven-year career with the Indianapolis Colts, he retired in August. The announcement, which occurred midway through preseason, should not have been such a surprise. Luck’s love for football was never a question, but his injuries put that love to the test.

Luck is known through the league for his skill on the field, and his worldliness, off. An avid reader and admirer of academia, the Captain has all the qualities of a natural leader. Whatever the future holds for luck, he will undoubtedly treat with the same commitment, positivity, and sportsmanship that he exhibited in his NFL playing career, which would make him an incredible coach.

The Ageless Veteran – Can’t-Quit McCown

Josh McCown has probably mentored more young quarterbacks than most current players in the NFL. He has, on more than one occasion, taken to social media to make jokes about the young men he’s helped foster. The 40-year-old current backup on the Philadelphia Eagles has already attempted to retire to pursue coaching, but the league just couldn’t let Johnny Bravo go. He’s still spending time at Myers Park, where he had planned to coach his sons’ high school team this fall, but it’s definitely harder to manage now. Oh well. Maybe next year.

McCown has made his career as a backup, and a rewarding career it has been. He’s thrown 37 touchdown passes over his nearly 17 NFL seasons. But he’s always had the coaching itch in him, having previously spent time volunteering with Marvin Ridge High School. A family man with a penchant for small-town life, who’s to say that McCown will bring his coaching interests to a higher level, but once his kids are grown, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see the league trying to snag him back just as they did this year.

The Raging River – Fertile Phil

Coaching is in the blood of Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. His father, Steve, coached high school football throughout Rivers’ upbringing. Now that he’s in the final years of his playing career, the almost-Giants franchise quarterback that got swapped with Eli Manning must be looking to the future. He’s got nine children at home – almost an entire offense – and undoubtedly at least ONE of them will get the football gene. He’s already contributed to his resume coaching his son’s flag football team, and as the rest of the kids get older, he’s bound to have continued involvement in their intermural sports experiences.

Rivers will likely enjoy some time at home trying to remember which of his kids is which after his retirement from playing. But his fatherly tendencies and lengthy playing tenure perfectly suit him for a future NFL coaching job.

The Eccentric Wildcard – Jorts Minshew

The strange phenomenon that is Gardner Minshew II, current signal-caller of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the wake of Nick Foles’ Week 1 injury, shouldn’t have been such a pleasant surprise. Minshew graduated from East Carolina in December 2017, but before electing to attend Washington State as a graduate transfer, had to reject an offer from Alabama. In Tuscaloosa, Minshew likely never would have seen the field behind the likes of Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, which must have informed his decision. But the real draw to the Crimson Tide was the opportunity to learn beneath Nick Saban, who promised Minshew a job as a graduate assistant.

Washington was the right move for Minshew, whose rookie stats in the past five weeks are proof that he still has MUCH to contribute as a player before embarking on a coaching career. But when the time is right, he’ll most definitely bring his talents (and bizarre wardrobe) to such a role. He’s already accumulated some experience as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy. And in the unlikely instance he loses the starting job with the Jaguars when Foles returns, he’ll likely commit his off-season to camps and programs throughout the country, flexing his coaching muscle.

Past the Passes

Players, specifically quarterbacks, returning to the NFL for coaching careers is far from abnormal. 10/32 current NFL head coaches are former college and professional quarterbacks. And as the wheels of time turn, and the current gambit of leading men (who seem to be mostly either veterans or babies) begin to turn in their letters of resignation, many of them are poised to see the league through a new view. Eli Manning, certainly, is poised to play the game from the sidelines in the future, furthering the spread of post-playing experience the Manning men have offered the league.

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