Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo announced the decision Wednesday after the Giants practiced for the first time since the firing of coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese.
“Eli Manning will be the quarterback for this football team and this game,” Spagnuolo said.
Manning took the first-team snaps at Wednesday’s practice and will start against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.. Geno Smith is expected to return in a backup role while rookie Davis Webb remains the third-stringer.
Smith started Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders and did nothing to forfeit the opportunity to start this week, McAdoo said after the game. He completed 21 of 34 passes for 212 yards with one touchdown and two fumbles and seemed to improve as the game progressed.
But when McAdoo was fired, it became apparent that the Giants would turn back to Manning with Spagnuolo as the coach and Mike Sullivan as the offensive coordinator. Sullivan used to be Manning’s quarterbacks coach and admitted last week that the situation was “frustrating.” Spagnuolo had called it “tough.”
Spagnuolo said Smith was not happy but professional about the quarterback change when they discussed it.
If Smith had started at home in place of Manning, it would have been met with a negative reaction from fans, something co-owner John Mara said the team was “cognizant” of earlier in the week. Mara insisted the handling of the Manning benching had no effect on the firing of McAdoo and Reese.
There had been talk of former players coming to Sunday’s game and standing on the sideline in No. 10 Manning jerseys in a show of solidarity. Former Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said Tuesday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York that he would be attending Sunday’s game in a No. 10 jersey, although the plan has seemed to fizzle out with Manning having been reinserted into the lineup.
Manning had his streak of 210 consecutive starts end last week. Smith was the first Giants quarterback to start a game besides Manning since Kurt Warner in 2004.
In an interview with WFAN Radio in New York on Monday, Manning said he talked to Spagnuolo and told him he wanted to start.
“I do not know for certain if I’m starting. I hope I am,” Manning told WFAN. “I did speak with Coach Spags for a little bit, told him I wanted to be starting QB, be out there and win these four games. He said he appreciated that and was going to talk with the offensive guys, and I hope I’m out there against the Dallas Cowboys.”
Manning has completed 63 percent of his passes this season for 2,411 yards. He has 14 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in 11 games.