Weeks ago, the idea of a 2-9 New York Giants team visiting a 5-6 Oakland Raiders team being a national story would have been a joke. Fast forward a few weeks and one absolutely botched public relations disaster later and here we are. It wasn’t the records of the teams that was the reason for national interest. It wasn’t even the players competing in the game. It was the one player not in the game that caused the sports world to blow up, and for all eyes to be on a battle between two losing teams.

Eli Manning, the Giants quarterback for the past 210 regular season games, was sitting on the bench. It was announced last week that former New York Jets quarterback, Geno Smith, was going to be taking the reigns from Manning. With every Giants fan, radio host, beat writer, broadcaster, journalist and casual viewer looking on as the Giants took the field for the first time without their beloved veteran, here are the Week 13 takeways from their 24-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

The Rookies Shined

Although most Giants fans would have loved to see 2017 third round pick Davis Webb play against the Raiders, they got plenty of entertainment from the two rookies the Giants drafted before him. 2017 first round pick Evan Engram continues to impress. He put up seven catches for 99 yards and one touchdown. He also had an Odell Beckham-like one handed catch on the last drive that should make any Giants fan excited for what this kid could be in the future.

On the defensive side, 2017 second round pick Dalvin Tomlinson added to his borderline rookie of the year season. Coming into week 13, Billy Moy of Pro Football Focus had Tomlinson ranked seventh on his 2017 rookie ratings. Tomlinson was a presence in the run defense accounting for seven tackles against the Raiders.

Like it or not, Smith did a good job replacing Manning. Did he do better than Eli? No, but he produced at a comparable level to the two-time Super Bowl quarterback. Smith completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 212 yards and one touchdown. He also picked up 13 yards on the ground. However, he wasn’t perfect. He did have two costly fumbles with one being in the end zone.

His performance was important tonight, probably more than anyone is willing to admit. With this loss, the Giants are now slated to pick second in the 2018 NFL Draft. Although this could change, there is a very high chance that the Giants will end up with a top three-to-five pick.

If that’s the case, then the Giants are going to take their future quarterback in this draft. If that is so, they are going to need a stop-gap quarterback to start until their future franchise signal caller is ready to take the field. By taking a quick look at this years class of free agent quarterbacks, it’s easy to see that the crop is very limited. The names most likely to be listed as potential stop-gap quarterbacks next year are the following: Josh McCown, Chad Henne, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Derek Anderson, Mark Sanchez, Matt Moore, Brandon Weeden, Blaine Gabbert and Smith.

By Smith playing the way he did against the Raiders, that should put him at the top of the list of potential stop-gap quarterbacks for the Giants next year. Not only did he show he can be competent in the starting quarterback role, but he’s also the youngest of the bunch. Meaning he could start off as the stop-gap and transition to the backup and solidify that role for a few years. It may only be the backup quarterback spot, but solidifying any spot on a football roster for multiple years is important in the NFL.

It’s Time for Davis Webb

The best thing about Smith performing well against the Raiders is that it allows the Giants to move onto Webb. The Giants should now have enough information to know that Smith can be their stop-gap/backup quarterback for a few years, but now it’s time to look for their long term future at quarterback.

Before the Giants spend a top three-to-five pick on a rookie signal caller, they need to give their 2017 third round prospect a chance. Four games should be enough to know how far along Webb is in his development. No one is expecting him to come out and be polished. Yet, by figuring out how far he is from his pre-draft projections, that will give the Giants a better idea on if they need to draft a quarterback with their first pick in the 2018 draft.

Also, it would make the fans happy. Sounds like a win-win, something the Giants haven’t had a lot of this year.


View the original article on Last Word On Pro Football: Week 13 New York Giants Takeaways