Fresh off a career year and surprising run to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs, offering Giants QB Daniel Jones an extension on his rookie contract seemed like a no-brainer for New York Giants General Manager Joe Schoen.
It seemed clear that the Giants had a competent QB, and locking that position down for a few years could allow the team to address other issues on the roster. Skeptics moaned at offering Jones a four-year, $82 million guaranteed contract, but the message was clear: The Giants had their guy.
Fast forward to a quarter through the 2023 NFL season, buyer’s remorse is in the air while the skeptics say, “WE TOLD YOU SO!”
Through Week 5, Daniel Jones has thrown for 884 yards, two touchdowns, and six interceptions. His stats are ranking him amongst the bottom-five QBs in the NFL, with a league-high TD-to-INT ratio and fourth-lowest success rate. Jones has looked lost at times, frustrated in others, but constantly besieged as he also carries the highest sack rate in the NFL.
It’s not all Daniel Jones’ fault
The Giants have been plagued with injuries, especially on the offensive line, so it’s not entirely fair to blame this poor start to the season purely on Jones alone. Jones has an abysmal record without Saquan Barkley in the backfield as well, as without the star running back – the Giants lack a true every-down target.
Darius Slayton and Darren Waller have proven their ability to generate separation consistently, but without an offensive line providing Jones time to find the open routes, there’s not much for Jones to work with.
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He’s not fitting the system
In year two in HC Brian Daboll’s offense, Jones has been given more opportunities to showcase his dynamic ability as an on-the-run thrower. Throughout five games, the Giants have run 30 Run-Pass-Option (RPO). Throughout all of the 2022 campaign, the Giants only ran 49 RPOs.
An argument that Daboll isn’t using Jones correctly simply isn’t sufficient, rather it’s the inverse. Jones has proven his ability to rush, but not his ability to be a consistent run-and-gun QB such as Daboll’s prior project Josh Allen.
Once again, Barkley’s absence and lack of pure targets impact Jones’ performance in this area as well. The Giants are on pace to run only 99 play-action passes this year, 42 less than last year.
Without a meaningful running attack, defenses have no reason to fall into the traps RPOs and play-actions can create. But poor rushing attacks haven’t stopped offenses like the Chicago Bears from finding success this season with their dynamic QB in Justin Fields.
Where do the Giants go from here?
The good news is, the Giants structured a potential out on Jones’s contract for the 2024 off-season. The cap hit, while $22 million dollars, isn’t entirely significant either considering the Giants would be replacing Jones with a rookie contract.
This is most likely designed as an opportunity for the team to draft a QB and allow him to develop a year under Jones during the 2024 season. The opt-out was Giants GM Joe Schoen’s break-in-case of emergency option. It seems like that’s where Big Blue is headed if they continue to lose.
It’s unlikely that the Giants will emerge with the #1 overall pick, and it’s much too early to speculate. However the season unfolds, it’s clear there’s a designed plan in New York. Take a QB in the 2023 draft and allow him to learn and develop a year under Jones.
Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen can handpick their QB of the future while mitigating the damage of the prior regime. Does that mean another year of pain for Giants fans? Most likely, but with the prospect of landing talent like Drake Maye or Caleb Williams, it’s hard not to have hope for the future.