Geno Smith will forever be the answer to the trivia question about which quarterback ended Eli Manning’s streak, but there was nothing trivial about last Sunday’s start to the fifth-year pro.
Smith, originally a second-round pick by the Jets in 2013, completed 21 of 34 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown in his 31st career start, which was only his second in the past three seasons. Smith was also sacked twice, losing fumbles on both as the Giants fell to the Raiders, 24-17, in Oakland.
Within 24 hours of landing back in New Jersey, the Giants, tied for the second-worst record in the NFL, dismissed head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. Team president John Mara and chairman Steve Tisch replaced them with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams on an interim basis.
Yesterday, Spagnuolo informed both players that Manning would return to his No. 1 spot on the depth chart and Smith would serve as his backup this week against Dallas.
“I had a great opportunity to go out there and play on Sunday with my teammates,” Smith said. “We fought hard. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win and I think that stings more than the news that I got this week.”
Understandably, Smith was not happy with being told he would not get another shot this week.
“I wasn’t,” he said. “Any competitor wouldn’t be. To be put in that situation where you get a chance to play and then you’re being pulled, but it’s not because you played bad, so you try to figure out why. But you got to understand that some things happen in this business and you just got to roll with it.”
“I have a great deal of respect for Geno Smith in the way he reacted,” Spagnuolo said. “He was a man. He obviously didn’t agree with the decision, but he is a team player and he told me that he was going to go forward and wants to be a part of this and I just have a great deal of respect for him. It’s not an easy thing to do.”
The move back to Manning also affects the timetable for rookie Davis Webb. Last week, the Giants announced that the third-round draft choice would play at some point this season.
Of course, that was before the Giants made major changes to their hierarchy.
“Well, [offensive coordinator] Mike [Sullivan] and I and the offensive coaches will talk about that as we go,” Spagnuolo said of Webb’s role this season. “The number one focus right now is to figure out a way to beat the Dallas Cowboys. I can tell you that. And, each week we’ll talk about those other things, but right now, in the midst of everything that’s going on with the changes and what not, little tweaks here and there, the focus is still going to be to beat the Dallas Cowboys.”
Spagnuolo did say that Webb’s workload has been increased.
“There has been an ongoing plan,” Spagnuolo said of Davis’ development. “You don’t see it behind the works, but there have been efforts there. I’ll call it drills where Davis has done things where he would do as he prepared to be a one or a two. So, that’s ongoing. Where we go with whoever the two is, we’ll just take it week-to-week.”
In the meantime, Webb will prepare himself for whenever his number is called.
“It’s not up to me,” Webb said. “I don’t get to pick and choose what happens. All I get to do is control what I can control and that’s being a good quarterback for the scout team right now and being a great teammate to Eli and Geno and help all of our receivers get ready and I’m still doing the same cutups, still getting up here early and staying up here late. So, it doesn’t really affect me and again, that’s out of my control, so I don’t really think about it.”