Thats my quarterback and no, were not talking about Eli Manning.
Giants players Olivier Vernon and Landon Collins both stood up for Geno Smith on Thursday, expressing disappointment that the fans did not give him enough support when he was named starting quarterback for last weeks game against the Raiders.
We always appreciate the support when it comes to the fans. The only thing I just had a problem with was, there wasnt the same support when Geno Smith was in at quarterback, Vernon said.
Manning received an outpouring of support last week when it was announced he would not start, snapping his 210-game streak, as fans and even former teammated rejected the notion of giving Smith, who had a career 12-18 record in four seasons with the Jets, a chance to play in a lost season.
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The fans rejoiced earlier this week when Manning was renamed the starter under interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
Both Vernon and Collins were clear they are also happy to have Manning back under center and appreciate what he has done in his career, but still believe Smith deserved better.
Hes a good guy, good quarterback, said Collins. Hes done so much to get to this position so yeah, regardless of the fact that Eli is the man, at the same time the coach felt different, our organization felt different for him and they wanted to try something new and kind of just support us because, at the end of the day everyone wants support.
Added Vernon: I understand Eli, a great quarterback, but at the end of the day, were all teammates, we all support each other and thats one thing one of our guy wasnt getting support like that like he needed to. … Eli Manning is back as the quarterback and we happen to have another quarterback as well. Were all teammates at the end of the day and we all support each other, regardless of what it is.
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While the players appear to support whatever decision the coaching staff makes, Smith also did not necessarily do anything to lose his job, either.
The backup quarterback completed 21 of 34 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown, but also had two costly fumbles.
Still, the 17 points he helped put on the board were more than Manning could muster in his previous two games combined, when the Giants offense totaled 15.
Spagnuolo cited that his gut told him to start Manning against the Cowboys this weekend at MetLife Stadium and finalized that gut feeling after speaking with the offensive coaching staff.
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Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was complimentary of Smith, but said the reasoning for the switch was simply because they felt Manning gives the team the best chance to beat the Dallas Cowboys this week.
I thought Geno did a lot of great things against the Raiders. He from day one has been someone thats had a great attitude, said Sullivan. Hes been a hard worker and hes improved as a player. In terms of this particular game, this opponent, in terms of experience in our system…we feel that Eli Manning gives us the best chance to win and thats nothing disparaging to anybody else.
Smith, meanwhile, took it all in stride when speaking to the media on Wednesday.
I dont need any sympathy. Im built for all of this, he said. Im built for everything thats going to come my way and I know that all of these tests and these trials are preparing me for something greater. So I look at adversity as something that can be positive. Im thankful for the adversity and I look forward to it.