Daniel Jones is the new face of the New York Giants. After sixteen years, the Giants finally made a change at the quarterback position. The legendary Eli Manning was benched after two disappointing performances to start the 2019 NFL season. The team let rookie quarterback Daniel Jones take over in Week Three and that was all she wrote.
It did not take long for Daniel Jones to win the starting job. It also did not take long for Daniel Jones to win the fans over. But Jones’s rookie season was far from perfection. The Duke product had plenty of impressive performances and flashes of elite potential. However, those great moments were mixed in with plenty of growing pains and rookie mistakes.
Daniel Jones threw some legitimate dimes, hence the nickname Danny Dimes. His accuracy exceeded all expectations. But there was one mistake that Jones made continuously: he could not stop fumbling. Daniel fumbled the ball 17 times in 12 starts (18 times in 13 games). This is a serious flaw in Jones’s game and it’s one that some doubt he can fix. I completely disagree; allow me to explain why.
Quarterbacks Who Had Similar Problems
There have been plenty of other quarterbacks who entered the league and struggled with fumbling the football. Not all of them were able to fix this flaw. But many of them were. And many of the quarterbacks who solved this problem went on to be great (even legendary) quarterbacks.
Daniel Jones fumbled on 3.9% of his passing attempts. His 18 fumbles from the quarterback position in 2019 led the league by a wide margin. His 18 fumbles tied for the fifth-most ever in a single-season. It was a historically bad fumbling season for our rookie signal-caller. But let’s look at some of the other names on the list.
Kerry Collins and Daunte Culpepper are tied for the most fumbles in a season with 23. Culpepper was a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback that spent 11 seasons in the NFL and Collins spent 18 seasons in the NFL, making it to the Super Bowl with the Giants in 2000. Tied with Daniel Jones at 18 fumbles in a season is Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon. Moon also fumbled 17 times in his rookie season. Regardless, he still went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
Let’s make a more recent comparison. Carson Wentz is considered by many to be an elite quarterback in the NFL right now. He is young, has a cannon of an arm, and played at an MVP-level in 2017. 2017 was Wentz’s sophomore season (he only fumbled the ball 9 times that season). As a rookie, Carson Wentz fumbled the ball a league-leading 14 times. He fixed this issue and became an MVP candidate.
Does fumbling the ball really make you a bad quarterback? Well, sometimes, but not always. Kurt Warner started in 116 games during his NFL career. He fumbled in 102 of those games (88% of those games). He is still a Hall of Famer. Mike Vick fumbled in 98 of his 115 games started (85%) and was still one of the most dominant players of his era. So these two guys did not really fix their fumbling problems and were lucky that it did not do much damage to their careers. But, like Wentz, there are plenty of quarterbacks who did fix their fumbling problems. Let’s take a look at a few more of those guys.
Quarterbacks Who Fixed Their Fumbling Problems
Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback in NFL history. The man has won six Super Bowls and dominated the league for twenty years. It has long since been forgotten, but two decades ago when Tom Brady was a youngling, he had a fumbling problem too. Brady played in only 1 regular-season game as a rookie. But in his second season (2001), Tom played in 15 games and fumbled 12 times. He then fumbled 11 times in 2002 and 13 times in 2003. After that, Tom cut the number down to 7 fumbles, then 4 fumbles, then went back up to 12 fumbles in 2006. From 2007 to 2012, Tom Brady never had a season with more than 6 fumbles. He had 10 in 2013 but since then it’s been smooth sailing. Tom has not fumbled more than 7 times in a season since 2014.
Even the best of the best have struggled with fumbles early on in their careers. John Elway is another example: he fumbled the ball 20 times in his first two seasons (on 639 passing attempts, a fumble on 3.1% of attempts). After that, Elway turned it around and cut that fumble rate down to 1.6%, fumbling 117 times on 6,611 passing attempts.
Now those are two extreme examples of two extremely good quarterbacks. This final comparison will be far more relevant. The next guy is a quarterback who worked with Jason Garrett, the Giants’ new offensive coordinator, for ten years. Yes, Tony Romo had a fumbling problem early in his career and Jason Garrett helped him solve it. Romo fumbled 32 times in his first three seasons as a starter. In those three seasons, Tony threw 1,307 passing attempts (fumbling on 2.4% of those attempts). Over the next 3,028 passing attempts of Romo’s career, he fumbled the ball a total of 33 times, 1.08% of his passing attempts.
There is no reason at all to believe that Daniel Jones cannot fix his fumbling problem. Some of the greatest quarterbacks of all time struggled with the same issues early in their careers. Even more promising, Jones’s offensive coordinator has experience with solving a young quarterback’s fumbling problems. On top of that, Jones has a new and improved offensive line to take care of him and make sure he isn’t getting that ball poked out from behind.
An Improved Offensive Line
Daniel Jones was the one at fault for many of his fumbles. At times, the rookie got tunnel vision and kept his eyes frozen downfield. He seemed completely unaware of what was going on around him and allowed the pocket to collapse, resulting in a sack and coinciding fumble. That happened a lot, but what else happened?
Well, as we all know, the Giants’ offensive line in 2019 was bad. Like really, really bad- especially from the offensive tackle position. The tackle duo of Nate Solder and Mike Remmers combined to allow 97 total pressures in 2019. Yes, you read that correctly, 97 total pressures. 57 of those pressures came from Nate Solder alone (Pro Football Focus).
The duo of Remmers and Solder led the league in pressures from a pair of offensive tackles. Now that statistic is flabergasting. But it is a statistic that will not be replicated in 2020. The Giants invested heavily in their offensive line this offseason. New York spent the fourth overall draft pick on stud Georgia prospect Andrew Thomas. They then selected two more offensive linemen in the draft (Matt Peart in round three and Shane Lemieux in round five). There is a legitimate chance that all three of these players become starters on the Giants’ offensive line in their careers.
It is exciting to see the Giants invest draft capital in their offensive line. But possibly the most impactful acquisition was on their coaching staff. New York hired offensive line coach Marc Colombo, the former Dallas Cowboys coach that helped the rival’s unit sustain its reputation as the best offensive line in the league. Factoring these improvements in, a new offensive line coach and new offensive line talent, there is no reason for Daniel Jones to be under constant pressure in 2020.
Daniel Jones will fix his fumbling problem. He is a hard worker that has already begun work towards improving his ball security this offseason. Daniel will be under less pressure in 2020 and will have fewer moments where his offensive line puts him in harm’s way. Combine this with the quarterback’s improved ball security skills and we are looking at a much more efficient version of Daniel Jones in 2020.
Also, shoutout to our man Chris, also known as The Entertainah, on YouTube. Chris recently made a video on this topic which inspired me to write this article. I pulled a lot of these statistics from his video, along with Pro Football Reference. Go check out his video hereÂ and make sure to subscribe to the man if you haven’t already.