Giants meet the media following the news that Geno Smith will start at QB on Sunday:
**Head Coach Ben McAdoo
Opening Statement: **Alright, each and every week our number one job is to win a football game. We're 2-9 right now. We have five left to play. We're out of contention and our number one job is to still win football games. But it's my responsibility to make sure we have a complete evaluation of the roster – top to bottom. Especially at the quarterback position moving on to next season and with that, we're going to start Geno (Smith) this week and give him an opportunity to show what he can do. We'll open it up.
Q: With that being said, how do you look at the locker room and your team and say that Geno Smith gives you a better chance to win than Eli Manning?
A: We're confident that we can put a plan together to put Geno in a position to be successful and go win the game.
Q: How did you come to this decision at this point?
A: We have five games left to play. We have three quarterbacks on the roster. We have two that we have yet to see in significant game action for us and we want to go take a look at both of those players.
Q: Did you run this by ownership and was this a conversation that you had with them and general manager Jerry Reese?
A: I spoke to Jerry and I spoke to ownership – yes. We're on the same page.
Q: Is this the end of Eli Manning in New York?
Q: Why not?
A: Well, I have a lot of confidence in Eli as a player, as a quarterback. But at this point, it's my responsibility for the organization to make sure we take a look at Geno and at some point take a look at Davis (Webb) and give them the opportunity to show what they can do heading into next year.
Q: Geno is going to be a pending free agent, so are you doing this to evaluate if you want to bring him back or is that at least part of it?
A: Yeah. It's part of the evaluation process. Geno has come in. He's done everything that we've asked him to do. Won the backup job and want to throw him out there and see how he performs. We feel we can put a good plan together and put him in position to help us win this ball game.
Q: Were you surprised that Eli declined the opportunity to start?
A: No. The streak obviously is very important to Eli. I have a lot of respect for everything that Eli has done in this league and for this organization and a lot of respect for the streak. I see what he goes through each and every week to get ready to play and how consistent he is and I don't want to speak for Eli, but I don't believe he would want to tarnish the record and I'll leave it at that.
Q: Was it a situation where you would just start him a series or two or what was the game plan?
A: The game plan going in was to play him for a half and play Geno for the second half and we decided after our conversation this morning that we'll give Geno the ball starting at the beginning of the game.
Q: How did you break it to Eli?
A: I brought him in, you know, had a chance to think about it over the weekend and I brought him in yesterday. We sat down and talked about it and left it overnight to think about it a little bit more and then we talked about it this morning and decided on this is the best direction for the team.
Q: Will he be inactive?
A: No. He'll be number two this week.
Q: Down the road, could he be inactive?
A: We're going to take it one week at a time right now.
Q: So, your intention is not to start him over the final five games?
A: My intention is this week Geno is going to start the game, play the game and Eli will be number two.
Q: You mentioned getting Davis Webb time. Where will that be?
A: At some point in time, Davis will be thrown in the mix. Yes.
Q: So, not necessarily Sunday?
A: Not necessarily Sunday.
Q: He'll be active – Davis Webb?
A: I didn't say that.
Q: What do you think this says about your future that ownership gave the OK on this?
A: This has nothing to do with my future. This is what's best for the team moving forward.
Q: This season is over, so it's looking towards next season.
A: No. We have five games left to play. Five very important games. We have a chance to go win these five games. We have a chance to take a look at the roster top to bottom, get great evaluations and move forward that way.
Q: Was this weekend the first time you thought about making this move or did you think about it before then?
A: This was – had a short week last week when we knew we were out of playoff contention. We were out of the mix. That's the time when you really have to take a look at your roster and make determinations on who you want to evaluate.
Q: Have you announced this to the team?
A: Just did. Yes.
Q: What was their reaction?
A: Not much of a reaction. I'm sure they'll have more for you later.
Q: Do you think it'll be tough to get those guys to buy in when you sit a two-time Super Bowl MVP?
A: I think that players in this league understand that their job is on the line each and every time they take the field. They understand how precious reps are. They understand how precious games are. They know that they could lose their job at any point in time and I think they can relate to – most of them can relate to what Eli is going through.
Q: How much did Eli's performance on Thursday at Washington play into this decision?
A: Listen, I haven't coached well enough. Our offense hasn't played well enough. Our defense hasn't played well enough and our special teams haven't played well enough. All those reasons are why I'm standing here right now. They're all part of it.
Q: What does this move say about the quarterback position for the Giants going forward?
A: I think that just like every other position, you're going to look at it critically and do an evaluation, an open, honest evaluation.
Q: You said that Eli wouldn't want to tarnish the streak, but a lot of fans are going to say that you're tarnishing his legacy here. What would your response be?
A: I think a lot of Hall of Fame quarterbacks who have done a lot for a lot of teams haven't been able to choose the way that they get to move on and I'm not saying that we're moving on, but at some point in time, you have to make hard, tough decisions for the best of the franchise. And, that's what I have to do here.
Q: Is it realistic to make this move and to have a future with Eli going forward?
A: Time will tell.
Q: You and players talked about how important it was when Eli stood up before the Kansas City game and got everyone fired up. A week later you're making this move. Did you have to think long and hard about this decision?
A: I think you have to separate yourself emotionally from things, as hard as that may be. I respect everything that Eli has done for this organization and make decisions on what's best for the future of the organization.
Q: You went to Jerry Reese and John Mara after you made this decision independently?
A: We're all on the same page.
Q: Whose idea was it – do you go to them after the decision is made?
A: We're all on the same page with the decision.
Q: How much do you think a mobile quarterback can be different to work with or can be helpful to you at this point?
A: As far as Geno, Geno has a skillset that is a little bit different than Eli. He is a pocket passer and he can do some creating on the move. I think that's something Eli has gotten better at over the years, but Geno can create on the move. He's going to have to pick his spots. They're a very, very talented rush this week. But, I'm excited to watch him play.
Q: If you're back here next year, you can see Eli as your starting quarterback?
A: It's part of the evaluation process. Absolutely.
Q: Are there any thoughts of waiving him?
A: No. No.
Quarterback Eli Manning
Q: How did this come about?
A: Yeah, Coach Mac (McAdoo) called me in. Told me that we were going to start splitting some time and thought it was best to give Geno (Smith) the start and I'll back him up. I'll be a good teammate. I don't like it, but it's part of football, you handle it. I didn't do my job.
Q: You didn't like it, but didn't you also have the chance to say that you wanted to start?
A: Yeah, I mean I just didn't think that you start knowing that you're going to come out of a game to keep a streak alive maybe. That's not what it's about. It's not a preseason game where you're going to play the start to the half, what's the next week? A quarter, a series, that's not fair. That's not fair to me, that's not fair to Geno, that's not how you play. You play to win. You're named the starting quarterback, you think it's your job to go win the football game. When you know you're just going to play a little bit, I didn't feel like that was the right way to play.
Q: Does this move make any sense to you?
A: Hey, I don't have to make sense of it. This is what it is and like I said, you got to deal with it.
Q: Did you see this coming at all?
A: No. I mean I didn't know. I didn't know what was going to occur. Hey, we're 2-9. Kind of uncharted territory, so you don't know what to expect when you're in that situation.
Q: What kind of conversations have you had with Davis (Webb) and Geno since the decision was made?
A: I told Geno I'd be here for him and I sat down with him today and going over the script and going over plays and just make sure he's comfortable with everything and knows how to go out there and give him a chance to be successful.
Q: Can you explain why you didn't like the plan?
A: I think I just did in the fact that to go out there knowing that you're coming out. I just didn't think that's how you prepare. In the start of this week, I was going to play the first half and Geno was going to start the second half. Eventually they were going to start working in Davis and I thought I was just starting and playing to keep a streak alive and I didn't think that was the right thing.
Q: And even though you're at 2-9, you're still trying to win games, right?
A: Right. That's your job. You're the starting quarterback, it's your job to go out there and win the football game. When that's not the case, you're just going out there to play knowing you're not going to finish the game. I just didn't see that being the right thing.
Q: How hard is this hitting you emotionally?
A: It's hard. It's been a hard day to handle this, but hang in there and figure it out.
Q: Is this your hardest day as a Giant?
A: It's up there, yeah.
Q: Do you think you've seen your last game for the Giants?
A: I don't know. I don't know. One week at a time.
Q: Have you spoken to anyone else besides Ben (McAdoo) about the decision? Jerry (Reese)? John (Mara)?
A: I spoke to Jerry Reese a little bit. Mr. Mara, he hadn't been in today, but he knows what's going on and I'll probably try to speak with him tomorrow at some time.
Quarterback Geno Smith
Q: Talk about the decision that you're starting on Sunday.
A: I mean, you know, you're excited. I'm always excited to have an opportunity to play, but there's no major reaction – didn't throw a party or anything. Just went to work. Got into the classroom, started watching Oakland and just preparing.
Q: What kind of conversation did you have with Eli Manning after the decision was made?
A: Well, you know, I told him I support him. I told him I have a ton of respect for him. When I came here, I've said that all along. This guy has done a tremendous job in this league, done a bunch of things for this organization. None of that can ever be taken away or forgotten and this is a business, man. It's tough and my number is up, so it's my time to go out there and do what I'm supposed to do and make sure that I get the job done.
Q: What makes you think you're ready?
A: I know I'm ready.
Q: Did you know this move was coming or did it take you by surprise?
A: Man, I've been in this situation before, honestly. Just last year. I went through the same things, so you kind of have to expect everything. You can never be too sure. As we all know, this is a business. It's a tough business. Anything can happen and no one's job is 100 percent secure. Injuries happen. Things happen and you got to just continue to roll with the punches and for me, it's a great opportunity. Great opportunity to go out there. Had a year to get healthy. I've had time to learn the system and learn the guys, so it's a great opportunity. I look forward to it.
Q: Do you think there's additional pressure on you being the first person other than Eli to start a game for the Giants since 2004?
A: You know, I'm not sure. But, I don't really view it that way. I don't really look at any outside pressure. It can't be applied to me. I want to go out there and I want to win for these guys. I want to play hard for my teammates and I want to play hard for the organization. I think it's important for us to kind of get some things going and I think it's going to be a great opportunity. So, I look forward to it.
Q: What do you respect about Eli?
A: His leadership. I've seen the work that he's put in. I've seen the amount of time that he spends in the classroom and making sure that the guys are prepared, not only himself. So, I've learned a lot in that regard. I've learned a lot from the guy in just the short time I've been here and it's a tough deal because I have a lot of respect for him and I do understand what he means to this organization. But, like I said, it's a business and every man has to do what it takes to feed his family. So, that's my goal.
Q: Can you appreciate how tough it is for him to say go ahead and let Geno play?
A: I know he's hurting. Like I said, I've been through it and I wasn't a 10-year starter. It hurt me the same way, so I know what it's like and I know it's tough and I just always continue to reiterate to him that I'm in his corner and I've said that from day one and he said the same thing to me. That means a lot.
Q: How did you find out?
A: Coach (Ben McAdoo) told me.
Q: When was that?
Q: How shocked or surprised were you?
A: I wasn't shocked or surprised. I understand that things happen in this business. You just got to be ready for whatever happens and I've been working hard. I've been working hard behind the scenes, you know, doing all the little things. So, I expect them to pay off.
Q: Did Ben McAdoo tell you how much you should expect to play over the next five games?
A: He told me to go out there and play my game. I'm not looking too far ahead or behind. I look forward to this week. I think it's going to be a great matchup with Oakland. They're a pretty good team. They're down a couple guys, but they're still playing tough defense. So, we just got to go out there and execute.
Q: What do you think about Eli's future?
A: I'm not here to talk about anyone else's future. That's not my place. Like I said, Eli has done a lot of great things for this organization. I think he deserves the utmost respect because of that and that's the standard, man. Just in my short time here just being here, I see the way that they treat guys here and it's one of the better places that I've been, that I've seen or heard of. So, with Eli, man, like I said, we love him. He's our guy. But, we just got to continue to go out there and fight.
Q: What did the other players talk to you about?
A: Guys were kind of fired up. Guys are giving me hugs, handshakes and I think guys have witnessed my story from afar just seeing how things have kind of played out. So, I think they're looking forward to that part of it. They've seen me practice. They've seen me get better throughout the year and I think they're really eager to get to work during the week and try and go out there and get a victory.
Q: What does this opportunity mean for your future?
A: Well, you know, we'll see. You can only prove it on the field. There's no talk that can be said. There's nothing I can say in the media that will change things. The only way that I can improve my current situation or any situation towards the future is to play well.
Quarterback Davis Webb
Q: What is your reaction to Eli Manning not being the starting quarterback for this week's game?
A: Yeah, it's tough, especially when you have the best teammate that I've ever had in my short football career. That that happens to a guy like that – only six other guys have thrown for 50,000 yards, whatever his [consecutive starts] streak is. He's been the face of the franchise. If you had a Mount Rushmore of not only New York Giants, but New York athletes, he'd be on it. It doesn't affect really anything, we've just got to keep working and we're going to be great teammates for Geno [Smith] and we're excited to watch him play this Sunday against Oakland and this team is too. So, we've all got each other's support and Eli's the best teammate I've ever had and it's sad, but at the same time we've got to regroup and get ready for a win.
Q: What is it like to know that you will play this season?
A: It doesn't affect my preparation. I've said this before, I get up here pretty early and I stay here pretty dang late and I always prepare like if my opportunity came tomorrow, I'd be ready and I approached it that way since the day I got here. It doesn't really affect much, but right now, I'm going to be the best teammate I can be for E and Geno and we're going to try help us win our game on Sunday. But, it doesn't affect anything.
Q: What do you say to Manning today?
A: I told him, I said, 'You're the best teammate I've ever had in my life and you're the best quarterback I've ever seen in my life. So, being with you every day, it's been a lot of fun,' and it's not like it's over. We've still got practice tomorrow and we've got five more games, a month, left. Yeah, it's sad today, it's going to be tough today, but at the same time, Eli is an unbelievable football player, he's done some great things for the New York Giants and it isn't on him and it never will be. It's a team game, it's the ultimate team game, it takes all 11 guys on offense, 11 guys on defense and special teams to win a game. So, he's been a great teammate, he's been a heck of a quarterback and, again, he's the best to ever play at this position for this team.
Q: How did you find out that Manning would no longer be the starter?
A: It was Coach McAdoo. He let us all know.
Q: What was your conversation like with Manning and Smith after McAdoo announced the decision?
A: Again, we said this from the beginning, we're going to be the best teammates to each other, we're always going to find ways to help one another. That's my stuff, I try to do a lot of breakdowns for whoever's playing that week and Eli does the same thing. We're just going to try to do the best we can to help that guy who's going to play on Sunday achieve success, so we can all enjoy success in the locker room afterwards. That's all we're here for, we get paid and we get judged off wins and that's what we've been trying to do and we've got a chance to do it on Sunday. So, we're both going to help Geno as much as we can to be great teammates and help him prepare to win a game on Sunday.
Q: Do you anticipate being active for this week's game against Oakland?
A: Again, that's a Coach McAdoo question, I can't answer that. I haven't been told anything. My job, again, is to be prepared and I go out there every single Sunday thinking I'm going to be activated and if there's any chance that I play, I want to be ready. So, that doesn't change and don't blow that out of proportion, I've been doing that since my first preseason action, since my first game against the Steelers, I've prepared that way, like, 'Hey, I'm going to play three quarters,' I'm getting my mind right. But I played a quarter. So, that's just how I am and it doesn't affect anything.
Q: Is there one thing that you will always say, 'Eli Manning taught me this'?
A: Today, today was pretty big. The way he handled himself, the way he handled himself in front of his teammates, myself and Geno included, he was first class. He was very supportive, he's ready to help us win a game. There's so many things that I can talk about and we don't have enough time for that. I've learned something from him every day and I've really written them down and I've really taken upon myself to kind of – I've always kind of idolized Eli and there's so many quarterbacks I watched growing up, but to kind of be his teammate and see how he does every single day. His routine didn't change today and he's a heck of a teammate, he's the best quarterback in this franchise's history.
Q: Was Manning emotional speaking to his teammates?
A: I mean, it's not easy when you start that many games and get told that kind of thing by Coach McAdoo and everybody feels it, in the whole facility, it's sad. It's not easy, but again, he was very, very persistent to tell us he was going to do whatever he can to help us prepare to play. If that's Geno, if I get an opportunity, then he's going to help and there's no doubt in my mind he will because he's the best teammate I've ever had in my life.
Q: How big of an opportunity is it going to be to play this season?
A: I'll be excited. Nothing affects my preparation, just how I always play. I've played that way since I was in seventh grade, I was a B-team backup quarterback. I play extremely driven, play competitive and have passion with my teammates. So we're just looking forward to whoever plays quarterback, to be able to enjoy success with each other and that's teammates. It's a team game and that's what we need to do, enjoy success.
Q: Did you talk to Coach McAdoo separately one-on-on, or did you find out about the decision with the rest of the team?
A: We've talked. Again, I'd like to keep those conversations private, it's a one-on-one conversation. But again, we all knew what was going to happen, we talked about it one-on-one, we talked about it as a group and he handled it very professionally and it wasn't easy. I'm sure he didn't want to do it, but no one wanted it to happen. Eli's the quarterback for this team, he's the quarterback for this franchise, but again, he handled it professionally. I'm very complimentary of that because it's not easy and we all handled it pretty well.
Q: Did you mean Manning or McAdoo?
Q: How important was it for Manning to set the tone that he did when the decision was announced?
A: Again, that's one thing I learned today. When things aren't going your way, which a lot of things this season sadly have not, he's been the same person every day, he prepares his butt off, he's the best teammate I've ever had. I've said that four or five times now, but I really mean it. I learned a lot from that and I've learned a lot this season, especially from him and how to handle himself and that continued today and it won't stop.