Giants coordinators emotional talking about Manning
East Rutherford, N.J. — Steve Spagnuolo, Mike Sullivan and Tom Quinn handle the defense, offense and special teams of the New York Giants for coach Ben McAdoo.
It's been a tough season, with the team winning two of 11 games. It got even tougher for each of them this week when the Giants benched quarterback Eli Manning so they could evaluate backups Geno Smith and rookie David Webb over the final five games.
Even if they disagreed, none of the men was going to question the decision made by McAdoo with the support of co-owner John Mara and general manager Jerry Reese. They are all team players.
But it was obvious it hurt them seeing Manning benched after starting 210 consecutive games and helping the Giants win Super Bowls after the 2007 and 2011 seasons.
The bond between the coaches and Manning is deep, cemented by championship rings. Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator when the Giants beat then-undefeated New England in February 2008. Sullivan was the wide receivers coach in 2008 and the quarterbacks coach in the season that ended with the February 2012 win over Tom Brady and company again. Quinn has been the special teams coordinator since 2007.
Spagnuolo tapped his heart in talking about Manning, who has been the starter since November 2004.
"Look, it goes without saying, I love Eli Manning and this is tough," Spagnuolo said. "But all I have is love for him and let the rest work itself out."
Spagnuolo has not had a chance to sit down and talk with Manning since McAdoo announced Tuesday that Smith would start in Oakland on Sunday.
"We've been together through a lot of good things and I respect him a great deal. I really do," said Spagnuolo, quickly asking if there were any questions about his defense just to change the subject.
Sullivan has worked with Manning more than any coach on the team, both in length and in time together.
"Tuesday obviously was a very difficult day," Sullivan said. "Eleven years — worked closely with Eli as a member of this coaching staff, as a receiver coach, quarterback coach, the coordinator, and then these past few weeks being able to call the plays for him and so many experiences that we shared together. The highest of highs: a couple Super Bowl trophies. The lowest of lows, you know, I think you could certainly say this season has had its fair share of those.
"And everything in between and the thing is, through it all, he has been the ultimate professional," Sullivan added. "He personifies class and humility, toughness, competitiveness. I just have great respect for Eli Manning as both a player and as a man, and over that long period of time we developed quite a bond, a strong bond, and there's nothing that can take that away or break that bond."
Sullivan fended off questions whether he had a say in the decision to bench Manning. His goal this week is to get Smith and the offense ready for the Raiders.
As for Manning, Sullivan said this week has not changed him. He is working hard.
"His attitude has been one of being a good teammate and wanting to do everything he can to help the offense, help the other quarterbacks, help everybody get ready as best he can," Sullivan said.
Quinn said it has been weird not seeing Manning as the starter, and he said his unit takes some of the blame.
"I mean, you kind of feel like we haven't done enough to get him the field positon, you know?" Quinn said. "You kind of feel responsible. So, it's hard. He's a great leader and has done everything since I've been here, so he's really helped me out. So, it's tough."
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