EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** The Giants have four quarterbacks on their current roster, kept three in 2013 and could well have just two when the 2014 season begins, a possibility that has crystallized Ryan Nassib's objective.
Right now, it is crowded in the quarterbacks meeting room. Eli Manning is preparing for his 11th season as the starter. Curtis Painter, who was No. 2 on the depth chart last year, is still here. Last month, the Giants signed Josh Freeman, a former first-round draft choice who played last season for Tampa Bay and Minnesota.
And then there's Nassib. The Giants traded up in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft to select Nassib, who threw a school-record 70 touchdown passes at Syracuse. He was inactive for all 16 games last season. Of course, "inactive" is an accurate description for most backups to Manning, who has started an NFL-high 151 consecutive regular-season games. But Nassib would like to become the man behind the man and believes he has a chance to be the backup.
"I think my progress from this offseason compared to last year is like night and day," Nassib said today. "I didn't have to deal with the draft and all of those workouts and stuff like that, like I had to last year. Now all I have to do is focus in on what we have to do here."
And here the competition for the job he seeks is being contested on a level playing field. The Giants have a first-year offensive coordinator in Ben McAdoo, who is installing a new system. All the quarterbacks are learning the plays, terminology and nuances at the same time.
"It's nice to kind of get something new, get the guys excited again," Nassib said. "I'm just happy to be out there throwing the ball around again.
"There are some similarities and some differences than in the past. We've got some aspects of it that are kind of fun because the philosophy is to attack. That's kind of what makes us kind of enjoy it now and grasp it."
For Nassib, McAdoo's offense has more similarities with what he ran at Syracuse than the scheme he learned last year under former coordinator Kevin Gilbride. And he'll take any little advantage he can get as he fights to win the No. 2 job.
"My system in college was primarily West Coast, so there was some carryover from college to Coach McAdoo's system," Nassib said. "It's something that I've done in the past, which I kind of got away from last year. Now that we're back in it, the lessons that I've learned in the past are kind of becoming relevant again. It's been nice to be able to have that background now when I'm trying to learn something new."
Gilbride's offense often featured longer downfield passes. Nassib believes McAdoo's more controlled passing schemes might be a better fit for his skill set.
"Getting the ball out quick, having a good running game and playing fast, which is something that I think I do pretty well and something that I fit pretty well into," Nassib said.
Nassib has also been helped by a unique occurrence – Manning undergoing surgery. On April 10, Manning underwent arthroscopic surgery – more specifically, a debridement – on the left ankle he sprained in the season finale against Washington on Dec. 29. Although Manning is healing quickly and feeling good, his workload is expected to be curtailed throughout the spring. That gives Nassib more opportunities to show what he can do.
"During his rehab, I've gotten a chance to get a few more reps with him being a little limited," Nassib said. "It helps me develop, helps me get a little bit of a better feel with receivers and the system as a whole."
The circumstances are in place for Nassib to make a real run at the backup quarterback job. Now he has to take advantage of everything that's been presented to him.
"My mindset has always been the same since I started playing this game," Nassib said. "I want to go out there and play the best that I can, earn my position and leave it all out there. Then the chips will fall where they may.
"I don't think the expectations are different. My expectations, my goals are to earn that spot and stay with this team."