While he’s never been flawless under center, Geno Smith is the New York Giants best option, in regards to being Eli Manning’s backup.
For the past 12 years, the New York Giants have gone into training camp with their starting quarterback set in stone — Eli Manning. And that same scenario presents itself yet again this year, but questions linger about the ones behind Manning.
While it’s a foregone conclusion that he will get the starting nod, it’s not so clear as to who Manning’s backup will be. With veterans Josh Johnson and Geno Smith, as well as third round pick, Davis Webb, all present, the Giants have a few options at their disposal when it comes to naming a backup quarterback.
But while a reasonable case can be made for all three of them to get the secondary gig, the reality is that for this upcoming year, Smith makes the most sense.
While Manning has been the Iron Man of the NFL (never missing a start), the Giants still need to have a suitable backup who can fill in for a week if need be. When deciding and looking for such a safety net, snatching a quarterback with starting experience is highly beneficial. Out of all three of their options, Smith fits that bill.
Throughout the duration of his four-year career, Smith has started on a consistent basis for two years — his rookie and sophomore season. In those two years as “the man,” Smith has not wowed anyone. Throwing for 3,000 yards just once, and holding a 57.9% completion rate for his career, Smith has not produced at a Pro-Bowl level or anywhere near it. But the key edge and benefit that he has on the rest of the pack is that he has the starting experience.
While the 31-year-old Johnson does have some experience under center, he’s only started a total five games; he also hasn’t made an appearance in a game, starting or not, since 2013.
Then there’s the rookie Webb. While the California product did show some potential in his senior year, the Giants appear to be leaning towards putting him on their practice squad, as opposed to the 53-man roster. That essentially makes it a two-man race for the gig between Johnson and Smith.
While Johnson hasn’t been given a reasonable amount of time to blossom with Big Blue, the Giants need to operate based on who gives them the best chance to win. Even though he’s never blossomed into a consistent, franchise player, Smith still has that starting experience on his resume — a feature Johnson doesn’t possess.
In reality, chances are whoever gets crowned the backup job isn’t going to be playing an awful lot, if at all. One of the bigger and under appreciated facets of Manning’s career has been his durability. Despite taking a beating at times by opposing defensive lines over the past few years, Manning still shows up every Sunday; he’s started every game the Giants have played since 2005. But even though the 36-year-old’s ongoing health is encouraging as he enters his 14th year in the league, the Giants can’t take any chances. They need to have a player on the sidelines who can run the offense for a possession or game if something happens to Manning.
He likely won’t be Manning’s successor or produce at a high-level if called upon, but Smith is the Giants best option at backup quarterback.