For the first time in a while the New York Giants have a genuine quarterback competition.
It doesn’t involve Eli Manning, nor does it really involve rookie Davis Webb. Manning is firmly entrenched as the Giants’ franchise quarterback and Webb is likely headed to a red-shirt year of watching and learning how to play the football the NFL way.
There is a fierce competition, however, between veteran quarterbacks Josh Johnson and Geno Smith for the role of Manning’s primary back-up.
The two have split reps with the “No. 2” offense throughout camp as the coaches give each an opportunity to state his case.
Smith was a surprising signing, considering his tenure with the New York Jets, but he is taking a positive view of the prospect of fighting for his job.
“I wouldn’t say it’s different,” Smith said. “I’ve always taken that approach. I’ve always worked the same way. Honestly, I don’t even think about that right now. I let that be outside noise, and I just block it out. I’m happy with the reps that I get, I’m happy with the chance to compete. That’s all you can ask for as a player: a chance to compete. Overall, I’m just happy to be a part of the team and getting better with the guys. I’m not singling myself out and thinking about myself first, instead of putting the team first. The second, whenever I get a chance to go out there and prove my worth, or what I can do, that’s what I try to do.”
Josh Johnson believes the competition will bring out the best in both players:
“[Competition] Breeds excellence. We’re all fighting for the same thing. We understand that. You have to bring it every day. But, that’s the case in this league with all of us. I mean, you can be here today, gone tomorrow. See guys who had opportunities they didn’t take advantage of. So, you just have to take advantage of opportunities that you’re given because the ones you won’t take advantage of, somebody else will. That’s how this league works.“
Both players believe they have their own advantage that they bring to the table. For Smith it is his experience starting in a similar offense.
“I ran a version of it in my first two years under (former New York Jets offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg),” Smith said. “This is a high-volume offense. A lot is placed on the quarterback, which is great. That’s what you want. That’s the only subtle difference I notice. With this being my fifth year, I understand it more. I understand why things are the way that they are; why the checks are the way that they are. The more volume, I think, really helps the quarterback because you can always get into the right play and it allows you to go out there and just play freely.”
For Johnson, he has a year’s worth of experience in the Giants’ offense, speaking its language and watching Eli Manning.
“I mean, obviously it helps, Johnson said of his experience. “I just try to worry about the added things that I can bring to this game and being around it and all the guys, learning the language, just hearing things – that helps a lot. So, just try to use that where I can to allow us to be able to be successful on offense.”
Smith summed up his feelings on the competition well, saying, “It’s always competition, and the competition never stops. It never ends. You always want to be the very best. You’re always trying to reach that final plateau. It is a competition, that’s exactly what it is, and the best competitors, they always rise to the occasion. I don’t look at it in any other way than that. As a competition, one that I want to do well in, I appreciate it, and I look forward to it every single day in practice.”
For his part, Johnson is looking forward to the preseason games.
“Camp gives you a great start,” Johnson said. “It lays the foundation, let’s everyone know that you know what you’re doing. But, I mean, obviously games are everything in this league. So, just really about adding, taking the days in camp and just building a plan. But when the games come, get out there and execute, move the chains, put points up on the board and show that we can win with you at the helm.
Our own Ed Valentine has been watching the competition and believes that the two are evenly matched after five practices. He has told me that both quarterbacks have made their share of throws they probably want back, but both have also made good throws as well.
Ed also noted that Geno Smith is practicing without a brace on his surgically repaired knee and moving around well.
About that, Smith said, “Yeah, very confident [in his knee]. Also, I think that’ll help me be mindful of protecting myself when I get outside the pocket, or even when I’m inside the pocket. Just always being mindful of taking care of my body and not putting it in harm’s way.”
“When I’m out there,” he added, “I don’t even think about it. I’m going through my checks, going through reads, and that’ll be something we have to see in the first preseason game. Every single day that I’m getting team reps, I’m feeling a lot better, more confident. When I get back there, I’m not thinking about what could happen. Obviously, we’re not getting hit right now, but when the games come about, that’ll be something to see, exactly how I react to getting tackled for the first time since the injury. God willing, I’ll be okay.”
Ultimately it will likely come down to which quarterback performs better in preseason games, which QB can step up going against an NFL defense in live conditions.