EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Everyone from the New York Giants that talked about quarterback Davis Webb immediately after he was selected in the third round of the NFL draft seemed to mention that he was the son of a coach. At the time, it seemed like a notable point that was being somewhat overstated in the sales pitch.
Maybe they were onto something though. If the Giants were insinuating that Webb takes the game seriously, it makes sense now that it can be put into context.
Webb takes diligence to unique levels. He isn’t just going through the motions trying to learn the Giants offense. He’s not simply working hard either. He seems to be doing everything possible, including coming to work every day during OTAs and minicamp with personalized questions for each coach and quarterback.
“I have a ton of questions. I write them out every day,” Webb said after the Giants concluded minicamp Thursday. “I have Eli [Manning] questions, Coach [Mike] Sullivan questions, Coach [Frank] Cignetti questions, Josh [Johnson] and Geno [Smith] questions. You have it all different. They’ve all been responsive. I’m just thankful and blessed to have that type of room around me. Some guys don’t have that.”
Most guys also don’t take the job quite as seriously as Webb has in his first few months. While most players use the six-week period between minicamp and the start of training camp to decompress, at least to some degree, Webb intends to grind straight through. He plans to stay in New Jersey -- except for a couple days when he will attend former roommate Bradley Marquez's football camp in Odessa, Texas -- and continue the process of digesting the Giants offense.
Webb says he will study the playbook relentlessly. He will practice calling out the long plays (something very different from what he did in the Air Raid offense at Texas Tech and Cal) and really take his time devouring the concepts. He will slow things down after a hectic spring. Install 1, Day 1. Install 2, Day 2. And he can take his time along the way as he studies the intricacies of each.
“This is important to me,” Webb said. “I want to come back in training camp where I’m not thinking as much and just executing and reacting.”
For a rookie making such a tremendous leap from the Air Raid offense to the Giants’ West Coast scheme, Webb looked surprisingly comfortable this spring. He was going through the reads and making quick decisions. His physical skills (beginning with a cannon for an arm) were evident. Webb was firing bullets around the field and keeping the costly mistakes to a relative minimum.
This isn’t easy. When coach Ben McAdoo first came to the Giants as the offensive coordinator in 2014 the quarterbacks were a mess. Manning it seemed was throwing at least two interceptions a day at practice as he tried to learn a completely new offense. The transition was admittedly difficult as he overhauled his thinking and footwork.
Webb, 22, has kept the interceptions to a minimum. He’s looked significantly more competent in the early stages of the transition. But he knows it’s early and there is plenty of room for improvement.
“I’m a perfectionist,” he said. “I’m very hard on myself and very critical. So I can get better. There are a lot of things I need to improve on, even touchdowns. There is something with my footwork or different coverage where I could’ve went somewhere else and made an easier throw.”
It has all been a learning experience. Everything is different. The verbiage may be the biggest change. With the Giants there can be a 15- to 20-word play call. Webb wasn’t used to calling out such expansive plays in the Air Raid. He also wasn’t used to looking his teammates in the eyes and doing it in a huddle.
Even practices and the amount of work Webb receives has been a culture shock. At Texas Tech and Cal they move at lightning speed, trying to squeeze 90-100 plays out of a game. Webb might gets 150 reps at practice.
With the Giants it could be 15-20 practice reps in 7-on-7 or live drills during on any random day. So it’s not uncommon to see him standing behind the line of scrimmage pantomiming Manning or one of the other Giants quarterbacks while he waits his turn.
“I’ve always done that since I was in second grade watching the varsity quarterback at my father’s high school. Trying to steal reps as much as I can,” Webb said. “I think it’s fun seeing it from behind trying to get a vision of what Eli or Josh or Geno are looking at. So when you’re not getting those reps … you want to make sure you don’t miss one and when the meetings come up you can kind of learn from your mistakes. Or the other quarterbacks’ thought process.
“So it has been a lot of fun and I try to stay on par with these other quarterbacks because they have been in the league for a long time and I’m the new guy and I’m behind in that area.”
At this pace, maybe not for long.