Does Josh Johnson have the advantage in the backup quarterback battle?
The Giants liked Josh Johnson, a seven-year NFL veteran, enough to bring him on-board after training camp concluded last year and to elevate him to the No. 2 quarterback spot following Ryan Nassib’s season-ending elbow injury.
They also apparently liked him well enough to re-sign to a two-year, $1.95 million contract this winter, a deal that counts for $1,015,000 against the cap if he beats out Geno Smith, but still a cap-friendly deal that would yield a $900,000 cap savings if he were to be the odd man out.
Although Johnson has been able to get a jump-start on his quest to lock up the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Manning, things aren’t necessarily cut-and-died for him in this competition.
Does he have an advantage in this competition?
Two, as we see it.
First, Johnson spent an entire year in the system, that of course happening after last year’s training camp concluded when he was a surprise addition to the 53-man roster.
That first advantage is partly what brought him back to the Giants.
“I was here last year, and they wanted me to come back. I established something here last year that let them see what I can do on the field,” he said. “I had an opportunity to come back and compete and earn something that was there and to me, that’s all I can ask for.”
The other advantage he has is that he’s healthy and was able to do everything during the spring. This includes building up timing and participating in team drills.
Does Johnson agree that he has a leg up in the competition?
“I’m not looking at it like that,” he said. “I’m looking at it as taking advantage of every rep I am getting and maximizing it.”
What else can you tell us about him?
I had to research this one and came up with the following scouting report from Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc., who offered the following take to Pat Yasinkas of ESPN back in 2009:
I’m not going to pretend to know the backward and forward on him, but I think he’s very intriguing. He came from very small school (San Diego) and he put amazing numbers (43 touchdowns to one interception in his final year). He values the football and he’s intelligent. He doesn’t have monster arm, but he’s athletic.
Johnson, like Smith, has experience playing in a system similar to what the Giants run, which is probably why he’s on the roster.
However, despite his advantages of being in the system for a year and knowing the playbook, the 31-year-old Johnson would be somewhat of a risk because despite his longevity in years, he has only thrown 177 regular-season NFL passes, completing just 97.
That Johnson just went through his first full offseason with the Giants should help him tremendously, according to Cignetti.
“The nice thing is to see Josh go through the offseason program now, because he wasn’t here the last offseason,” he said.
“The offseason is building our fundamentals, building our communication, being in the classroom, then building on the field with teammates. So, Josh has been able to start from jump street in the offseason and it’s been great to see.”
What would probably be even greater to see, as far as the Giants are concerned, is that whoever wins the backup quarterback battle never has to set foot on the playing field for a meaningful regular-season snap.