Forget for a minute all the questions about how well Eli Manning is adjusting to a new offense and whether or not Manning can bounce back from a career-worst 2013 season. When it comes to New York Giants quarterbacks there is just as much, if not more, attention paid to the guy who could be caddying for Manning in 2014. That, of course, would be second-year quarterback Ryan Nassib.
Every day Nassib is scrutinized. Every throw is put under the microscope by reporters in attendance. Was he accurate? Did he throw it on time? Did he make the right read? Did he stand in the pocket or get nervous and dance around? Does he look like a guy who can actually play in the National Football League?
When quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf spoke to the media on Monday the first four questions were about Nassib, not Manning.
"I think already in training camp he's had some excellent throws, much better than the spring," Langsdorf said. "Now there's been some things he's missed. He's had a couple turnovers and some bad throws at times. But overall, I'm really pleased at how he's been throwing the ball as a whole in training camp. It's been pretty good."
Fans, too, are along for the ride. When they read about Nassib's bad days, bad plays and bad moments -- which are plentiful -- it's "what the heck did Jerry Reese waste a draft pick on this guy for?" When he makes good throws -- and, yes, he makes a good amount of those, too -- it's rip Tom Coughlin time. "I can't believe he didn't dress for a single game last year to get some experience" is the refrain.
Welcome to the Nassib-Coaster! It's one heckuva thrill ride.
"I do make bad throws," Nassib said earlier this week. "That will come with the territory, you’ll miss some throws, but you’ll also make some. You just hope at the end of the day you make more than you miss."
There are times when Nassib is off target, or when he makes decisions that make you wonder if he will ever get it right. Then, there are moments when he does get it right. Like Sunday when he hit Jerrel Jernigan with a deep ball over Walter Thurmond. Or Monday, when he hit Preston Parker with a perfect back shoulder throw, then dropped the prettiest seam route pass to tight end Larry Donnell that you will ever see, floating the ball just over the outstretched arms of linebacker Devon Kennard.
Nassib admits he has "been inconsistent at times."
"When you're putting a new system in, new install every day there going to be some ups and downs. It's not only the first time I'm throwing the play it's the first time a guy's running the play," Nassib said.
"There's a lot of factors, but the ultimate goal is to be consistent. I've been inconsistent at times, but I take those as learning experiences. Next time that play is called try to execute it a little bit better than I did before."
The important question, the one both fans and the Giants themselves want the answer to is this. Can Nassib show enough growth from his rookie season, when Curtis Painter was the No. 2 quarterback and Nassib never dressed for a game, to become the outright backup for Manning?
The Giants are giving him every opportunity to win, or lose, the job. He gets the second-team reps, which aren't as many as Manning gets with the first team but far more than Painter gets while running the third team.
"He's getting more comfortable communication-wise mostly, making sure we're on the same page with the receivers and the protection matches what we're doing downfield. Those are the things that he's gotten more comfortable with doing. He communicates well; he's fast at it. If you watch our practices, he's moving around quickly, he's getting the calls made to the right guys under good time, so I like that part of it. He's not wasting a bunch of time at the line of scrimmage and I think that's due to how much he's studied and prepared himself for training camp," Langsdorf said.
"He doesn't get as many reps as the ones, and like I said, there are guys changing in and out all the time. Some of the periods that we have, like the one-on-one periods with the receivers, it's not as realistic for the quarterback. It's good, it's great work for the defensive backs and receivers, but in terms of the big picture with the quarterback, there's no protection, there's no real sense of timing or urgency there. It's a little bit skewed. But in his team periods and his seven-on-seven, I think he's shown an improved ability to throw the ball."
Nassib acknowledged earlier this week that he is more comfortable in his surroundings now that he has a year in East Rutherford under his belt.
"I think I've grown a lot in the past two years. I have the lay of the land now, where last year I was still trying to figure out how NFL teams practice, what the expectations are, stuff like that," Nassib said.
"I had a full offseason under my belt and I feel like I've grown a lot over that time. Definitely more of a comfort level just in the fact that I had a little bit more time to study, to learn and to be in the building and be in the system."
Undoubtedly the Giants hoped when they drafted Nassib that he would grow into the backup role. The jury is still out on whether or not he will do that. The Giants begin a preseason in which they have five games when the face the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, and those five games will be critical for Nassib.
By the end of that time we will know if the second-year man from Syracuse has been able to smooth out enough bumps on the Nassib-Coaster to gain the Giants trust and earn that backup spot. Enjoy the ride, Giants fans.