Geno Smith has gotten unfair treatment during Eli Manning mess



Geno Smith’s direct, unfiltered personality may get him in trouble, as it did Sunday in Oakland after his first NFL start in more than a year, when he returned fire at Rex Ryan for his former Jets coach’s TV rip-job of the quarterback.


Smith, by the way, wasn’t apologizing for calling Ryan a “coward” in his contrite tweet Sunday shortly after his press conference. He simply felt bad about doing it on Giants time.


“Yeah, I wasn’t apologizing to him,” Smith said Wednesday. “I was apologizing for the distraction.”


But to tell the truth, inside a Giants facility where owners throw coaches under buses, players anonymously rip coaches to the media, unaccountable Twitter warriors roam rampant, and few are willing to tell Eli Manning or Odell Beckham Jr. “no,” Smith’s honesty and genuine emotion are refreshing.

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Smith wasn’t about to stand there Wednesday — in a locker appropriately sandwiched by Beckham to his left and Manning to his right — and pretend like he agreed with interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo’s decision to bench him and start Manning on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.


“I wasn’t (happy), and any competitor wouldn’t be,” Smith said. “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(ly). So it’s kinda like you try to figure out why. But you gotta understand that some things happen in this business and you’ve just got to roll with it.”


He wasn’t going to pretend he understood why he was losing his job after leading the Giants offense to more points in Oakland (17) than Manning had in his last two starts combined (15). And he wasn’t going to keep his mouth shut when asked if he had showed enough in Oakland to impress any of the league’s 32 teams entering free agency.

Geno Smith has gotten unfiar treatment both from the Giants and the fans.

Geno Smith has gotten unfiar treatment both from the Giants and the fans.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)


“I mean, to some people it’ll never be enough, you know?” Smith said. “And then to others it will be.”

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Spagnuolo didn’t even tell Smith why he was being benched.


“We really didn’t talk about that,” Smith said. “He told me the decision that he made. I told him how I felt about it. And we kind of moved on from there… (The why), that’s something that maybe I’ll figure out along the road. But as of now, no (I don’t know why).”


Forgotten in the Giant fan euphoria of seeing Manning return under center is that Smith was screwed over here for a public relations win. If John Mara’s plan 10 days ago were still in place, with Manning unwilling to play a half for show, Davis Webb would be starting Sunday against Dallas, or Smith would be starting and Webb would take over at half.


Instead, all indications Wednesday were that Manning not only will start but will play the whole game. And Spagnuolo said Smith is the No. 2 QB. Basically, Mara and the franchise were so stung by the backlash to their bungling of Manning’s benching, suddenly they apparently have abandoned planning for the future in favor of quelling the masses by giving them what they want.

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I can empathize with Spagnuolo being in a hectic situation taking over as interim head coach just Monday with a game six days away. But ownership crafted the original plan and should be sticking to it. And yet they now have audibled so much that Spagnuolo pushed off the discussion of Webb by categorizing his playing time this flippantly:

FILE

Ben McAdoo’s firing and Eli Manning’s benching have overshadowed Geno Smith’s treatment as the backup.

(Elsa)


“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… the focus is still going to be to beat the Dallas Cowboys.”


Those other things? Oh, you mean like having a top-three pick in April with no in-game tape on your own rookie quarterback? Those other things matter more than getting a win on Sunday, sorry. And though the Giants aren’t tanking, losing is good for them at this point because it challenges for a higher pick.


Plus, the players’ job is to play hard, and who’s to say Webb playing would give them a worse chance to win? Do we know that? Everyone thought the offense would do worse with Smith, right? How does that assumption look now?

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Smith engineered an 88-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter in Oakland to draw the Giants within 17-14 and was gaining momentum toward a game-tying drive at least until the defense caved again and let the Raiders march downfield for a 24-14 advantage to put the visitors away.


Somehow it’s gotten lost in this Eli Manning Lovefest that Manning wasn’t playing well this season. The Giants are claiming he gives them the best chance to win but the recent evidence doesn’t support that.


The Giants did not do anything wrong in discussing a plan to see their other quarterbacks play in a lost year. Their colossal mistake was how they did it, forcing a shotgun proposed plan that disrespected Manning rather than making a natural transition to Smith and Webb late in games coming out of the Week 8 bye.

Steve Spagnuolo didn't give Geno Smith a real reason for why he is starting Eli Manning instead.

Steve Spagnuolo didn’t give Geno Smith a real reason for why he is starting Eli Manning instead.

(Seth Wenig/AP)


They handled it poorly and deserved to be criticized as they were across the country. It was the right idea and the wrong execution from the top-down.

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But stop with all the Manning sob stories of how hurt he still is by last week, when Smith was wronged just as badly this week except he had his job yanked for no reason rather than a questionable one.


Smith, understandably, was disappointed to see McAdoo fired. The ex-Giants coach was one of the few people who believed in him. McAdoo actively helped bring Smith in as a free agent. So on Monday morning, Geno ran out of the locker room when he saw McAdoo on his way out and “shared my gratitude with him.”


“I respect the heck out of Coach McAdoo. I think he did something maybe not a lot of people would have: he gave me an opportunity. And I respect it. I appreciate it,” Smith said. “As far as like any sympathy or something like that, I’m not looking for it. I don’t need any sympathy. I’m built for all of this.”


What Smith probably will be looking for this offseason is a new job. Hopefully his next chance is a fair one. 

Tags:
nfl
new york giants
geno smith
eli manning
nfl quarterback controversies

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