Geno Smiths 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 coachs TV rip-job of the quarterback.
Smith, by the way, wasnt 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 wasnt 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, Smiths honesty and genuine emotion are refreshing.
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Smith wasnt 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 Spagnuolos decision to bench him and start Manning on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
I wasnt (happy), and any competitor wouldnt be, Smith said. To be put in that situation where you get a chance to play and then youre being pulled but its not because you played bad(ly). So its kinda like you try to figure out why. But you gotta understand that some things happen in this business and youve just got to roll with it.
He wasnt 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 wasnt going to keep his mouth shut when asked if he had showed enough in Oakland to impress any of the leagues 32 teams entering free agency.
I mean, to some people itll never be enough, you know? Smith said. And then to others it will be.
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Spagnuolo didnt even tell Smith why he was being benched.
We really didnt 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), thats something that maybe Ill figure out along the road. But as of now, no (I dont 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 Maras 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 Mannings 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:
Each week well talk about those other things, but right now, in the midst of everything thats 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 arent 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 whos 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 its gotten lost in this Eli Manning Lovefest that Manning wasnt playing well this season. The Giants are claiming he gives them the best chance to win but the recent evidence doesnt 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.
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, Im not looking for it. I dont need any sympathy. Im 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.