Not only has Ryan Nassib pretty much assured himself the backup quarterback job with the Giants, he's saved the team a roster spot.
Because of his play in the last two weeks - he led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter against the Colts and engineered four touchdowns in the second half against the Jets last night - the Giants probably won't have to keep three quarterbacks on the roster. That's bad news for Curtis Painter, who was last year's backup while Nassib was an inactive 53rd member of the team. But it should give the Giants more roster flexibility this season.
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Nassib's ascension wasn't always so clear. Two weeks ago he was demoted to third-stringer behind Painter. Tom Coughlin said his response to that adversity was just as important as his play.
"One thing that was very impressive was that he didn't have a very good game two weeks ago and he came back last week and this week and played very well," Coughlin said. "He ran the offense well."
Nassib completed 8 of 12 passes for 103 yards and three touchdowns against the Jets. In the last two weeks, playing less than three quarters of football, he is a combined 19 of 27 for 261 yards with four touchdowns. More importantly he has not thrown an interception all preseason. Not even ones that have been negated by calls on the field (Eli Manning has had two such near-picks).
"The game's starting to slow down," Nassib said. "That just comes with reps in practice and being able to be in the system a little bit longer. But there's still a lot left to get better at, there's still a lot more to learn and I've got a lot more stuff to correct."
One of the highlight plays from Friday night was the 39-yard touchdown pass to Preston Parker. While it was a strong throw, the Giants are likely just as happy with the thinking behind it. Nassib changed the play at the line of scrimmage from a run to a pass.
"They kind of loaded the box, we checked to a pass and had single coverage on the outside," Nassib said. "Preston was able to wiggle free and make a great play ? It's just something that comes with the play. Pretty much every run has a pass option. Depending on a certain look, we might have to get to a pass. When they load the box like that, a lot of runs aren't very good, so sometimes you have to air it out."
"He stuck the ball in there down the field well," Coughlin said. "He directed the running game into the right spots and that was a good thing as well."
Nassib's favorite plays of the night, though, were for negative yardage. Those would be the two kneel downs he took to run out the clock after the Giants had the victory in hand.
"That's the best play in football right there," Nassib said. "That's always a great feeling, to be able to kneel knowing you won it."
The game. And the job.