Calling himself “surprised,” this likely wasn’t what Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio had in mind when he began his game prep for the New York Giants. Sunday’s opponent is going to look very different than expected.
The news of the benching of Eli Manning rocked not just the Giants locker room and their fanbase but apparently raised more than an eyebrow on the West coast. The Raiders likely weren’t expecting that the opposing quarterback they’d be facing would be Geno Smith. Especially since Manning had 210-consecutive starts heading into this weekend, it was expected that the Giants would go with the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback.
But the Giants did the unthinkable — ironically likely done with very little actual thought involved – and now the Raiders are being gifted the chance to go up against the Giants backup.
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“A little disbelief,” Del Rio said on Wednesday during a conference call with the New York media. “I think for us we continue to prepare for the Giants and all their players that are still up and that will include getting ready for Eli.”
Del Rio then referenced the last time Smith had significant NFL snaps, going back to a 2015 game against the very same Raiders team that will be the Giants opponent on Sunday.
In that game, the then New York Jets quarterback Smith came in for an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick. He completed 27 of 42 passes for 265 with two touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked three times in that game.
He also rushed the ball twice for 34 yards in what was a 34-20 Jets loss.
“Well, we did see him out here in 2015. He came out with the New York Jets and I think he had over 40 pass attempts in our game, completed 27, 28 of those passes,” Del Rio said. “I know that Geno’s an athletic quarterback, been in the league for a while and has some experience and certainly is capable if you don’t disrupt him.”