New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning hasn’t missed a start since the middle the 2004 season and judging by the quality of backup quarterbacks they’re bringing in, they hope that streak continues.
The Giants were in the market for a low-key, inexpensive backup but Smith is probably the last player Giant fans expected to see on the roster in 2017.
The terms of the deal, which is contingent on Smith passing a physical, are not immediately known but if all goes well, Smith will put his name on a contract Monday. The Giants also re-signed quarterback Josh Johnson, their third-stringer from last year to a two-year deal.
Are these two additions that will cause Giant fans to do cartwheels down Route 3? Hardly.
The Giants are hoping neither ever has to play a down. You better hope so, too. Just like general manager Jerry Reese said when the team selected Ryan Nassib in the 2013 NFL Draft, the team’s success is based on the availability of Eli. If he goes down, start folding the tent.
Smith was dumped by the Jets a few weeks back after a rough four-year stint with Gang Green. He was their second-round pick out of West Virginia in 2013 and never lived up to his draft status. Many suggested at the time he should not have been taken that high in the draft. I was one of those people.
When I interviewed Smith the day before the draft, he was unimpressive in stature and appeared aloof. He fell far short of the leadership level that Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or even Ryan Tannehill were on and was destined to fail with the Jets. He could not read defenses and his accuracy was questionable. Why the Jets took him at all was a mystery to me.
But those were the John Idzik Jets, completely dysfunctional and rudderless. Smith was not ready for both the NFL nor the New York market. He didn’t have the talent to overcome his immaturity. The fact that the Jets, who are desperate for veteran QB help, turned their backs on him is telling.
What’s not clear is what the Giants see in Smith. They have an extensive scouting department on both the amateur and pro level. They vet players probably better than any other club, so maybe they feel Smith is on the cusp of some sort of breakthrough. To me, he doesn’t throw the ball well enough for the Giants to put any faith in him. I would have brought back Nassib, who has yet to catch on with a team.
Giants quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti, Jr. and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan know a few things about quarterbacks. They must think Smith is worth a shot. Reese loves reclamation projects and this will be one of his most successful should Smith find the groove in Blue that he couldn’t find in green.
Johnson is another player the team loves. Why? Who knows. He hasn’t played in a game since 2013 when he was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. If anyone tells you they know how good he is, they are guessing. Practices mean nothing. They’re like two o’clock hitters in baseball.
The same goes for Smith, who is coming off an ACL injury. If he even gets to the preseason, we’ll see how he manages in the Giants’ system. It’s not out of the question they draft a QB in the upcoming draft. Reese likes to have quantity when he doesn’t have quality in hopes to catch lightning in a bottle. Lightning would have to strike twice with Smith and Johnson.
Then again, if Eli stays healthy — and there’s no reason to think he won’t — these signings will be non-events. That’s the hope.