New York Giants: Is Geno Smith The Next Kerry Collins?

Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to throw a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to throw a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Jets free agent quarterback Geno Smith will reportedly sign with the New York Giants. Could he be the next coming of Kerry Collins?

At first glance, the question seems completely absurd. Is Geno Smith The Next Kerry Collins? Once the shock wears off, rationale sets in. With the New York Giants poised to sign New York Jets free agent quarterback Geno Smith (per Pro Football Talk), the comparisons to Kerry Collins aren’t as far-fetched as originally thought.

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Geno Smith was a second round pick of the New York Jets in the 2013 NFL Draft. Kerry Collins was the fifth pick overall of the 1995 NFL Draft, going to the Carolina Panthers. Smith started all 16 games his rookie season and nearly led his squad to the playoffs. Collins started 13 of 15 games played in his first year, then led the team to a playoff berth in 1996.

Both the Jets and Panthers felt they found their franchise quarterback. Both franchises lost their patience with their quarterback’s performance on and off the field and let their high draft picks go. Smith departed via free agency, Collins via waivers.

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During a preseason game in 1997, Collins broke his jaw in two places thanks to a horrific hit by Bill Romanowski that resulted in a fine to the tune of $20,000. During the Jets’ 2015 training camp, Geno Smith broke his jaw from a punch delivered by IK Enemkpali. Supposedly, Smith owed Enemkpali a plane ticket worth $600 and refused to pony up.

In August 1997, the same month Collins broke his jaw, the former Penn Stater had an altercation with a teammate after he used a racial epithet in reference to his wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad. Rumors ran wild that an offensive lineman punched Collins in the face, but those proved to be false.

Following a career worst stint with the New Orleans Saints in 1998, Collins signed with the New York Giants to be Kent Graham’s back-up, but won the starting job late in the 1999 season. In 2013, ranked Collins’ signing as the second best in franchise history. Most Giants fans know how the story goes once Collins took the reins.

The 2000 campaign saw Collins help the Giants advance to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1990. His record-setting day in the 2001 NFC Championship against the Minnesota Vikings was ranked as the third most memorable performance in Giants playoff history by CBS New York.

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After a frustrating 2001 effort, Collins set a Giants single season passing record with 4,000+ passing yards in 2002. That record held until Eli Manning broke it in 2011. Who knows how far that Giants team would’ve gone had they not blown the biggest lead in franchise history against the 49ers in the NFC Wild Card round. The 2003 season would be Collins’ last as the team brought in Kurt Warner and traded for Eli Manning in 2004.

Much has been made in the media about Manning’s demise following his sluggish 2016 season. As a result, critics suspect the Giants will use a high draft pick to select Eli’s successor. Manning’s more faithful supporters believe the all-time franchise passing leader has at least another three years left in his tank. How fitting it would be for Eli Manning to relinquish his throne as Giants signal caller to a Collins-esque quarterback like Geno Smith?

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Geno Smith will turn 27 years old this October. When the Giants signed Collins, he was 27. It would be almost unfathomable that Smith would become the starter in 2017 like Collins did in his first year with the G-Men in 1999. But, with a couple years under Eli Manning, an older, wiser Geno Smith could be the exceptional stop-gap that ushers the Giants to a Super Bowl appearance. Smith could be the bridge to the next Eli Manning. Considering how strong the Giants defense should be, another Kerry Collins wouldn’t be all that bad.