1994-1999: A Time of Turbulent Change For Giants

New York Jets fans are clamoring for a starting quarterback to help lead them to the promised land. After early signs of promise from Mark Sanchez, his play seemed to regress, and Jets fans soured on him. Geno Smith has now been the starter for the better part of two years, and has not done much on the field that would indicate that he could be that quarterback.

New York Giants fans have seen Eli Manning under center since he became starter midway through the 2004 season. He has not missed a game since, and while not always being perfect at times, Giants fans are happy with the results. Having two Super Bowl victories and two Super Bowl MVP’s has already solidified his legacy amongst Giants fans.

At one time though, the Giants were in a situation similar to what the Jets are going through. After having Phil Simms start 159 games between 1979-1993, he was shockingly released from the team. The former Giants Super Bowl MVP was gone, and a new era in Giants football would need to be ushered in.

Dave Brown


Dave Brown was a first round pick out of Duke in the 1992 NFL Supplemental Draft. Brown would have the unenviable task of succeeding Phil Simms as the Giants starting quarterback. He started 47 of a possible 48 games from 1994-1996, finishing with a 20-27 record during those three seasons.

He started the first six games for the Giants in 1997, finishing 3-3, and was finally benched after starting a game 2-7 for 8 yards against the Dallas Cowboys.

Brown started 53 games with the Giants, with a final record of 23-30 as a starting quarterback. During those 53 starts, he never had a 300 yard passing game, or a 3+ passing touchdown game. During the 1994 season, he had a four game span in which he threw 0 touchdown passes, and 7 interceptions. In 1995, 7 of his 16 starts resulted in 0 touchdown passes. In 1996, he endured a game with a 0.0 quarterback rating, when he finished 3-11 for 31 yards, with 0 passing touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Brown’s career numbers with the Giants: 57 games, 53 games started, 55.1 completion percentage, 8806 yards, 40 passing TD’s, 49 interceptions, and a 69.3 QB rating.

Danny Kanell

Next to step in line under center for the Giants was Danny Kanell. Kanell was a 4th round pick (130th overall) out of Florida State by the New York Giants in 1996. After 60 passing attempts his rookie season, he was asked to become the Giants starting quarterback in the 7th game of his sophomore season in 1997.

Photo File
Photo File

Kanell actually led the Giants to a 7-2-1 record in his 10 starts in 1997, as well a trip to the postseason, in which they lost a heartbreaker to the Minnesota Vikings. While leading the Giants to a great record, a closer look at the stats show that there may have been bigger influences towards the Giants postseason berth than Kanell.

Kanell’s season high in passing yards during those ten starts was only 220, as the Giants relied heavily on a rushing attack that featured three running backs: Tyrone Wheatley, Charles Way, and Tiki Barber. The Giants had 37 more rushing attempts than passing attempts during the regular season.

The Giants also featured one of the top defenses in the NFL in 1997. They allowed 265 points which was third in the NFL, while giving up the least passing TD’s (10), and intercepting the most passes (27).

Kanell finished the season with a 53.1 completion percentage, 1740 yards, 11 TD’s, and 9 interceptions for a 70.7 QB rating.

In 1998, the Giants stopped winning with Kanell as the starting quarterback. He started the first 10 games, in which the Giants only went 3-7. Kanell threw up a few clankers that season including a 10-27 performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which included only 83 passing yards, 0 passing touchdowns and 3 interceptions. His last start was a game against the Green Bay Packers, in which he finished 8-20, with only 88 passing yards, 0 passing touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.

Kanell would never see the field again as a Giants player, as he moved on to the Atlanta Falcons the following year.

Kanell’s career numbers with the Giants: 30 games, 20 games started, 51.9 completion percentage, 23 passing touchdowns, 20 interceptions, and a 67.1 QB rating.

Kent Graham

After Kanell, the next Giants quarterback who would be given a chance to be their starter was Kent Graham. This was actually Graham’s second stint with the team after he was an 8th round draft pick (211th overall) out of Ohio State by the Giants in 1992. In his first stint with the team between 1992-1994, Graham started 4 games in which the Giants went 0-4.

After starting 14 games with the Arizona Cardinals in 1996-1997, Graham was back in a Giants uniform. After subpar play by Kanell, Graham was called upon to become the Giants starting quarterback with six games remaining in the 1998 season.

The Times
The Times

Much like Kanell, the Giants started winning with a new QB at helm. The Giants ended the season 5-1 with Graham as their starter. Much like Kanell’s 1997 season, a lot of the Giants late season success once again coukd be attributed to their running attack and defense.

In Graham’s six starts, he went 91-177 for only a 51.4 completion percentage. His last three games did see him throw 5 passing touchdowns and 0 interceptions, so there was a little room for optimism for Giants fans entering the 1999 season.

While Graham did see his completion percentage go up in 1999, he turned the ball over more, and the Giants were not winning at the same rate. Graham started the first 9 games, and while the Giants did go 5-4, their defense allowed less than 20 points in seven of the nine games.

Graham had a few poor performances in those 9 starts, including a 15-29 passing game, with 1 passing touchdown and 3 interceptions against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. His last start, against another division rival, the Washington Redskins, saw him start the game 3-10 for 36 yards and 2 interceptions.

Graham would never see the field again as a member of the Giants, moving on to the Pittsburgh Steelers the following season.

Graham’s career numbers with the Giants (in 2 stints): 48 games, 19 games started, 52.3 completion percentage, 3760 yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 20 interceptions, and a 67.3 QB rating.

After Graham, Kerry Collins got the next opportunity to be the Giants starting quarterback. While Collins did not perform great in his 9 starts in 1999, he helped lead the Giants to the Super Bowl the following season, and a playoff berth during the 2002 season.

His last season as the Giants starting quarterback was 2003.

Kurt Warner started the first 9 games in 2004, and since then, the only starting quarterback the Giants have known is Eli Manning.

The years of 1994-1999 were turbulent ones for Giants fans, and much of it was due to subpar quarterback play. Brown, Kanell, and Graham never threw for a 300 yard game during those years, and the Giants only made the playoffs once, going 0-1.

Sorry Giants fans for evoking memories of Giants teams that many wanted to forget about. It should just allow that much more appreciation that the Giants have had the same starting quarterback under center for a decade-plus now.

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