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Giants at Raiders: A Geno Smith start, and other things to watch on Sunday

Here are some of the things to look for when the Giants face the Raiders

NFL: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Geno Smith
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What should you be looking for Sunday when the New York Giants face the Oakland Raiders? Well, part of the answer to that question is obvious if you have paid attention this week. Here, though, are five things to watch.

A pointless start by Geno Smith

It will be weird watching Geno Smith start at quarterback on Sunday, especially with Eli Manning healthy and in uniform on the sideline. It will also be irrelevant, at least in terms of the Giants’ search for their next franchise quarterback.

Smith is not that guy.

Coach Ben McAdoo, who put Smith in this spot, touted the reasons he likes Smith in a chat with the team’s official web site.

“First thing, you see him make throws that very few people can make in the National Football League, let alone anywhere else, so he has an arm. He has some anticipation with that arm. He can throw guys open, so it’s not just the arm strength. He has the touch,” McAdoo said. “He’s been humbled, and I think when you’ve been humbled, I think your best can come out.”


There is already plenty of evidence to know Smith is not a franchise quarterback. That includes a 12-18 record over 30 starts in four seasons, 36 interceptions to 28 TDs, and a broken jaw courtesy of a punch from a teammate.

Thomas George was probably right when he wrote this week that the move is “a McAdoo bid to survive or burn in a blaze on his own terms.”

Playing Smith, though, doesn’t help the franchise figure out who the next franchise quarterback is going to be.

No. 10 being a class act

Slapped in the face the way Eli Manning has been by the Giants this week, lesser men would show that in the attitude they brought to work every day. Manning hasn’t done that.

We have heard about how he has shown up early and sat alone with Davis Webb in the cafeteria to help the rookie QB. We’ve seen reports of how he has suffered the indignity of running the scout team without complaint.

Manning won’t be playing Sunday. I would, however, expect him to be involved. I would expect him to be hovering close to Mike Sullivan, going over what they both see. I would expect to see him in Smith’s ear when the starting quarterback comes off the field.

I won’t expect to see him sitting by himself and pouting.

“I think that he’s (Manning) doing a tremendous job on the field and in the meeting room. Just the way he gives himself to his teammates. He’s humble and he’s very respectful of the game and this organization and that says a lot about him, the way he’s helping his teammates this week,” McAdoo told this week.

Dealing with Khalil Mack

Last year’s Defensive Player of the Year and an All-Pro the past two seasons, Mack will likely line up opposite Chad Wheeler most of the time. Things won’t go well if the Giants try to block him like this:

Just an aside here. Brian Baldinger is the best. If you don’t spend time each week watching his #BaldyBreakdowns you are missing out on a football education.

Who will catch passes from Derek Carr?

The Giants won’t be the only team playing without their top wide receivers on Sunday. The Raiders will be without the suspended Michael Crabtree and probably without Amari Cooper (concussion). Those two are tied with tight end Jared Cook for the team lead with 42 receptions each.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Seth Roberts and Jeremy Holton will try to replace them.

Who’s playing defense?

The Giants put five defensive players on IR this week, meaning they added five new defensive players. Linebacker Akeem Ayers has been with the team less than three weeks.

Forget figuring out the best way to use the guys he has. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo admitted this week he’s having enough trouble learning everybody’s name.

The linebacker and cornerback positions are both in shambles, so it’s difficult to have any idea what to expect from Spagnuolo’s defense on Sunday.