Giants QB Geno Smith spoke one-on-one with SNY's Ralph Vacchiano as he gears up to start against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Smith has obviously been in the spotlight this week as the Giants announced they were benching Eli Manning for the 27-year-old former Jets starter. The critics will continue to put him under a microscope on Sunday, but Smith is only worried about proving his worth to his teammates and the rest of the Giants organization.
"I'm not going to go out there and try to make things happen if they aren't there. Go out there and execute the game plan, put the ball in the hands of the playmakers, get us into the right place and then let my natural ability take over," Smith said. "As far as proving anything to anyone, not even close. Not on my radar. The only thing I need to prove is to my teammates, to the guys on this staff, to the people in this building that I can get it done."
The announcement of benching Manning, the Giants starter for the past 14 years, came with tons of backlash. Manning, himself, was shaken up about the news as he was choked up at his locker on Wednesday. Smith knows a fraction of his pain, having been benched himself in his second year with the Jets. But he has gained even more respect for the future Hall of Famer watching how he has been handling everything.
"First of all, I know it's hard. It was hard on me and I was only in my second year," Smith explained. "It was hard on me last year when I got injured. I know it's hard for him being a guy who has been a staple in this organization for the past decade. I can't imagine what he's going through, but I offered him my support, my friendship, my compassion...I've gained much more respect for him seeing the way he's handled things in this situation."
But Smith isn't focused on how Manning is feeling as he will take over the offense with a hostile environment awaiting the Giants in Oakland. However, his confidence to perform on the road is high as he looks to make the best of his new opportunity.
"I feel confident. I think this is a great opportunity, not only for myself but for the team," he said. "You know, we got a wonderful opponent in front of us with Oakland. They're going to be tough. We know that going in, going into the Black Hole, man. It's going to be rowdy. They need a win, and we do too, so it's one of those things where it's not about me. It's more about the team and I think that's very important and it's very important for us to go out there and play well."
The West Virginia product played garbage time in the Giants' Week 9 blowout by the Rams, and he didn't complete a pass on two attempts. His last game starting came last season on Oct. 23 against the Ravens where he tore his ACL.
For his five-year career, Smith has thrown 28 touchdowns and 36 interceptions with a 57.7 completion percentage.