Can the former Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith revive his career with the Giants?
Let’s rewind the audio tape back to March and head coach Ben McAdoo’s jaw-dropping statement regarding Geno Smith, the former Jets starting quarterback.
The scene was the NFL owners meeting. McAdoo was asked if Smith could one day succeed Eli Manning as the Giants quarterback.
“I can’t see why not,’’ Ben McAdoo said, per the New York Post, adding, “We’re a long way to go from there.”
Now how about a little perspective in case you’re still concerned by the thought.
First, anyone who expected McAdoo to say or react any differently than really shouldn’t have expected him to answer any differently than he did.
While it was assumed that the person asking the question meant, “Could Smith one day succeed Manning after Manning retires,” perhaps McAdoo, in his effort to be truthful, twisted thing a bit out of context, by responding that it could very well be possible for Smith to succeed Manning—as a backup quarterback in the right situation.
Getting back to the present, that’s where things currently stand. Smith is going to compete with Josh Johnson for the No. 2 job behind Manning (hence the winner of that competition would indeed “succeed” Manning if he weren’t able to play).
Meanwhile the team invested a third-round draft pick in Davis Webb, who has a better chance of succeeding Manning given his draft status—he’s the highest drafted Giants quarterback prospect since 2004 when the team plucked Phillip Rivers that year before trading his to the Chargers for Manning.
Why did they sign him again?
Competition. Experience. Competition.
Look, the backup quarterback market wasn’t very strong. And the draft class wasn’t one that had teams jumping up and down in excitement either despite the trades that were executed in the first round.
Manning, as everyone knows, isn’t getting any younger. Although the 36-year-old takes excellent care of himself, even Manning can’t avoid the creaks and cracks the body starts to show after 13 years of playing a violent game, let alone the normal wear and tear that comes with getting older.
McAdoo, who knows a thing or two about quarterbacks, apparently liked what he saw on tape, saying, “You study the guys coming out, you study Geno, I think he’s right in the mix of one of the better players available this year.”
Was McAdoo drunk when he said that? Didn’t he see how Smith struggled with the Jets?
Say what you want about McAdoo, but rest assured his vision was not impaired when watching tape on Smith.
In looking at the way things played but with the Jets from the outside looking in, because Smith, who played in just three games the last two years due to injury, didn’t beat out Ryan Fitzpatrick when the chance was there is because the Jets were coming off a 10-6 season with Fitzpatrick as their starter. When you post that kind of record, you’re somewhat reluctant to mess with success.
While Fitzpatrick’s contract negotiations were winding down to the 11th hour, Smith used the time to work on his craft.
In reality though, he probably never had a chance of unseating Fitzpatrick in the beginning. And you can’t help but wonder if Smith hadn’t torn his ACL, would he have been able to unseat Fitzpatrick, who struggled.
Here’s something else that might have caught McAdoo’s eye. Toward the end of the 2014 season, Smith’s second in the league, he finished the season with a bang.
Following the Jets’ Week 11 bye that year, Smith completed 88 of 134 pass attempts (65.7%) for 1,155 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.
His numbers might have been even better had his offensive line done a better job of protecting him—he was sacked 13 times over that span, including back-to-back weeks in which he was sacked three times in a game.
The following season (2015), all the forward progress Smith started to make in hitting his stride came to the crashing halt thanks to the injuries. But for a short span there, he looked like a decent enough NFL quarterback.
Will he be ready to compete?
Smith has studied the offense since March, when he signed with the Giants. While classroom sessions will only take you so far—at some point you have to go out there and do it—the Giants are probably banking on Smith’s experience to
McAdoo has said that Smith will probably be limited in the spring. That means the goal is to get him ready for training camp.
“He’s champing at the bit,” McAdoo said of Smith. “He wants to get out there, but we have to do right by the player.”
During the OTAs, Smith took a few snaps, but was held out of the full team drills, telling reporters afterward that he expects to be ready for the start of training camp.
“I am working extremely hard every single day getting myself prepared, preparing my body, preparing my mind for training camp and everything after that.”
What about getting caught up?
“Mental reps are huge. I am always going through the motions per se,” he said. “Whenever coach calls the play, we get it in our helmets and I am going through the checks, going through the reads, footwork, things in the back and once I get in there I don’t think my head will be spinning as much because I have been doing that. So I think that is a really good thing.”
So far, Smith seems to be off the right foot as a member of the Giants. He seems to have the right attitude about his place on the totem pole and, perhaps with the pressure of not having to step in right away to be that guy, Smith can go back and fine-tune all the areas of his craft where he never really got the chance to develop because he had to play right away for the Jets as a rookie.
Will it be enough to unseat Josh Johnson as the backup?