Eli Manning will never change but our expectations should

God bless him.

As Eli Manning confronts an uncertain 2019 on the last year of his contract the very day that Dwayne Haskins visits 1925 Giants Drive, he chooses to see light at the end of the tunnel that I can only see as an oncoming train.

The faces around Manning have changed, and changed hard and fast, but the face of the franchise dutifully remains a smile instead of a frown. As he knows it must.

“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” Manning said.

God bless Eli Manning.

Whose glass, even now on the 18th green, is forever half-full.

But this isn’t the way anyone should want Manning’s legendary Giants career to end, Last Mann Standing on a rebuilding-on-the-fly outfit, asked to hold the fort for his successor for however long, answering to what sounded more on Monday like an inquisition targeting a subject on trial.

He hasn’t won enough since Super Bowl XLVI, he is 38 years old and is not Tom Brady.

He no longer has Odell Beckham Jr. to take a slant to the house, and because there is often no sentiment in pro sports, even part of his adoring fan base would like to thank him for the memories and wish he would pass the torch sooner rather than later.

He remains the quarterback of the Giants for reasons more financial than emotional, but also because until his last football breath he will be a living example of what Giants Pride should mean, and how a true professional goes about his business. In weeks when they play on Sunday, there is no one better from Monday through Saturday.

Dwayne HaskinsAP

While his expectations never change for himself, ours should for him.

Because he deserves better than to be anyone’s whipping boy, at a moment in time when Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur will be asking him to feed Saquon Barkley and be their game Mann-ager, we should lower the bar for him, and hope he can exceed it.

Only an elite quarterback would have a chance to win on a team with as many holes as these Giants now have on both sides of the ball, especially on defense.

He has been left to fend for himself on Gettleman Island, and only the most defiant Manning loyalist would harbor dreams of a Tiger Woods comeback for him.

If the Giants finally draft a quarterback in the first round, they will be drafting him to take Manning’s dream job. It would be the first time his job has been threatened. Pat Shurmur talks admirably about Manning being in the moment, a good thing when you might be forced to play the Kurt Warner caretaker/mentor role.

“In the quarterback room, I’ve always had a great relationship with everybody in there,” Manning said.

It is why Gettleman calls him a mensch.

A second year in Shurmur’s offense will help. So there’s that. Replacing Beckham is entirely another matter, and everyone inside Quest Diagnostics Center seems to be seduced by being able to score 102 points over the last four games without him. “It’s just by committee,” Manning said.

There will be no announcement from Manning before any season he decides is his final one, no Derek Jeter Farewell Tour.

“I don’t see going out that way,” Manning said.

Root for him going out the right way — with his head held high, even without that elusive third Super Bowl championship.

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