Geno Smith? Josh Johnson? Which of them will be the No. 2 quarterback to open the season for the New York Giants?
Before Thursday’s game against the New England Patriots, coach Ben McAdoo had said “we’re still not in a position to say who the number two is.”
Neither Smith nor Johnson made the choice an easy one with their performances vs. the Patriots as both had their best outings of the preseason.
“They both rose to the occasion.”
That was what McAdoo said Thursday of Smith and Johnson. “We challenged them. We gave them each some reps in practice this week. We let them go play and they both responded well.”
Smith started and went 10-of-11 for 11 yards and one touchdown, a terrific 25-yard throw to Matt LaCosse. He was sacked twice, but looked in complete control. Turnover-prone throughout his career, Smith didn’t throw anything remotely close to an interceptable ball Thursday.
“I think I came out strong, did pretty good for the most part,” Smith said. “It was pretty clean out there in the pocket. Maybe one or two sacks I could have maybe broken out of that tackle and thrown it away, but other than that, I think I played okay.”
Johnson answered by going 11-of-14 for 135 yards and a touchdown. He wasn’t sacked, and used his mobility to make a couple of plays, including an improvised short pass to Shaun Draughn.
“I feel like I really got to show what I can do out there tonight as a thrower, as a leader, as being able to use my feet when necessary,” Johnson said. “Just be able to go out there and really show this team in a game-like situation what I can do out there with extensive playing time.”
Smith finished the preseason 36-of-54 for (66.7 percent completions) for 355 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. That translates to a 75.8 passer rating. Johnson went 22-of-34 (64.7 percent) for 239 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. That is a passer rating of 95.1.
So, who’s it gonna be?
In our backup quarterback poll on Thursday, 61 percent (778) of the 1,273 voters preferred Smith. Only two percent (a measly 24 voters) preferred Johnson. The rest (37 percent) wanted both cut and rookie Davis Webb installed as the backup.
In that same post, I chose Smith. I did the same in my final 53-man roster projection. That is based on the upside of the 26-year-old Smith vs. that of the 31-year-old Johnson. The former New York Jets quarterback seems like the likely winner.
There is, however, an argument to be made for Johnson. His time in the league perhaps makes him better suited to be a sounding board for starter Eli Manning and a mentor for Webb.
We will know soon enough which direction the Giants choose to go in.