Ben McAdoo raved about Geno Smith shortly after the Giants signed him. He was nearly giddy about his rare "skill set", which included a quick release and fast feet. He insisted "You can't find guys out there that have that type of arm talent" and said it was "exciting" to have him on the team.
It honestly sounded like he was just giving the usual array of things coaches say about newly signed players during that interview back at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. Maybe it was a little over the top, but it wasn't anything too crazy. At least it wasn't until McAdoo was asked if Smith could be the heir apparent to Eli Manning.
"I can't see why not," he said.
Now that - that sounded crazy.
Fast forward almost exactly eight months and it still sounds pretty nuts, but it might not be so unrealistic. On Tuesday, of course, the 27-year-old Smith was named the new starting quarterback of the Giants. Manning, the freshly benched franchise icon, will back Smith up.
"Geno has come in, he's done everything that we've asked him to do, won the backup job and (we) want to throw him out there and see how he performs," McAdoo explained. "We feel we can put a good plan together and put him in position to help us win this ball game."
OK, well as misguided as the decision to unceremoniously bench Manning is, it might have made a tiny bit of sense if the Giants were benching him for Davis Webb. After all, they drafted the 22-year-old Webb in the third round last April with the hope that he might someday be Manning's successor. As premature as this might be, it would be understandable if they wanted to see what they had.
But why start the 27-year-old Smith, the former Jets starter who washed out there both on and off the field? If it's just because Webb isn't quite ready yet, then why do this to Manning?
Unless they really are thinking about Smith as their full-time starter next year.
McAdoo, of course, wouldn't commit to that. It might not even be his choice to make if he's fired at the end of the season. But once again, he raved about Smith's "skillset" - and very notably about some of the skills that Manning doesn't have.
"Geno has a skillset that is a little bit different than Eli," McAdoo said. "He is a pocket passer and he can do some creating on the move. I think that's something Eli has gotten better at over the years, but Geno can create on the move. I'm excited to watch him play."
Jets fans might chuckle at that after watching Smith perform for two years as their starting quarterback. He started 29 games over two seasons, completed 57.5 percent of his passes for 5,571 yards, 25 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. He also ran 131 times for 604 yards and was sacked a ridiculous 71 times.
He also flashed more than a little immaturity. He was caught shouting obscenities at reporters and fans, was once reportedly kicked off a flight for refusing to turn off his cell phone, and punished for missing team meetings. And those were just the appetizers for the entr??e of his locker room "fight" with I.K. Enemkpali in 2015 that left the then-starting quarterback of the Jets with a broken jaw and without his starting job.
The Giants took a flier on him in the spring because he does have talent, he has experience as a starter, and he had no other takers as he was trying to rehab from a torn ACL. He was worth a shot for one year, $1.2 million with nothing guaranteed. The Giants weren't even sure he'd be able to beat out veteran journeyman Josh Johnson for the backup job.
But he did. And now he has an opportunity that sounded like a joke when McAdoo hinted at it last March.
"Well, you know, we'll see," Smith said on Tuesday when asked what this chance means for his future. "You can only prove it on the field. There's no talk that can be said. There's nothing I can say in the media that will change things. The only way that I can improve my current situation or any situation towards the future is to play well."
And if he does, he just might accomplish the seemingly impossible. He could go from failed starter with the Jets to the replacement for one of the best and most iconic quarterbacks in New York football history. It may not sound right. It might not even sound like a good decision.
But it also doesn't sound so crazy anymore.