New York Giants: Daniel Jones named team’s most improved player by Pro Football Focus

New York Giants, Daniel Jones
Oct 22, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) rolls out to pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants‘ offense was pitiful in 2020, averaging only 17.5 points per game. Despite this, the team saw growth from its second-year quarterback, Daniel Jones. The sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft was a highly scrutinized selection. But the young gunslinger out of Duke has exceeded all expectations so far and is heading into a crucial third season.

Daniel Jones’s 2019 rookie season got off to a hot start, but his turnover tendency weighed things down. His 2020 sophomore season garnered similar results early on, but down the stretch, Jones took huge steps forward in his ball security and overall passing efficiency. This improvement gave Giants fans hope as the team made a late playoff push.

Still, critics are abundant. There are many fans that are not pleased with Daniel Jones’s progress and want to see a quarterback change. While the majority of the fanbase is in agreement about giving Jones one more year, there are some who feel as though Daniel Jones is a bust after two seasons.

While it has not necessarily translated to an abundance of wins, Daniel Jones has grown as an NFL quarterback. Pro Football Focus recently listed the “most improved player” for every NFL team. For the New York Giants, PFF selected Daniel Jones.

Daniel Jones improvements

Daniel Jones saw a massive improvement in his 2020 Pro Football Focus grade. In 2019, Jones earned a 65.9 overall grade. In 2020, Daniel improved his grade all the way up to 78.4, giving him a grade similar to that of Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, and Drew Brees.

Statistically, Daniel Jones did not improve this past season. His touchdown total decreased significantly from his rookie season. In 2019, Jones threw an impressive 24 touchdown passes as a rookie. This year he threw only 11 touchdown passes in 14 games. Daniel Jones needs to improve this total in 2021, but these stats do not tell the full story.

Pro Football Focus’s grading system isolates quarterback play away from the quarterback’s supporting cast. So PFF’s high grade on Daniel Jones’s 2020 season indicates that he was not the problem with New York’s offense. Rather, the Giants’ lack of playmakers surrounding Daniel Jones was the issue.

PFF notes that the biggest reason for Jones’s improved grade was that he “did a better job of keeping the ball out of harm’s way, reducing his number of turnover-worthy plays from 31 in 2019 to 17 this past season on a similar number of dropbacks.” Daniel Jones is no longer the turnover machine that he was in his rookie season.

Daniel Jones took huge strides in 2020. He kept the ball clean and made plays through the air and on the ground. While the Giants definitely need to see more from him to feel confident in his long-term future, they also need him to surround him with a better supporting cast. If the Giants can add some more playmakers to their offense and keep Jones protected, he could have a breakout 2021 season.