EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (NEWS10) – The New York Giants were back at practice on Wednesday for the first time since the head coach was fired.
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is taking over the interim coaching duties in what could be considered a four-week audition for the full-time gig. His message on Wednesday was simple, clear and resonated with players.
Spagnuolo told players to expect to win when coming to work. So he did what he felt gave the team the best chance to win. He named Eli Manning the starting quarterback for Sunday.
“When [Giants owner] John Mara and I talked, one of the first things he asked was about the quarterback situation,” Spagnuolo said. “And I said, ‘John, my gut right now is that Eli should be the starter.’”
“I’m excited, excited about the opportunity to play this week, get back on the field with my teammates, and go play against the Dallas Cowboys,” Manning said.
Having Manning under center returned some semblance of normalcy to the Giants locker room in what Spagnuolo called a rough few days.
“10 is 10,” tight end Evan Engram said. “He works his butt off.”
“After they drafted me, the first call I got was Eli Manning,” offensive tackle Justin Pugh said. “So, obviously, it’s a tough situation, but I’m happy to see 10 out there.”
“I was excited to see them,” Manning said. “It’s good getting your hands back under center.”
Manning’s promotion spelled the opposite for quarterback Geno Smith, who did not agree with the decision, but was praised for how he handled the news.
“I had a great opportunity to go out there and play on Sunday with my teammates,” he said. “We fought hard. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win, and I think that stings more than the news I got this week.”
As for the team’s reaction to former head coach Ben McAdoo’s firing, no one was celebrating. Each player took partial responsibility for the season’s collapse, as did Spagnuolo, who said he believes McAdoo will be a head coach again in the NFL.