New York Giants: Debunking the ‘weak’ Daniel Jones narrative that he’s to blame for offense’s struggles

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

One cannot consider a monolith statistic to devise an entire opinion of New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, despite turning the ball over 39 times over the course of his career. That number alone seems scary, but context provides clues and reason for his deficiencies.

It is justified to be objective when it comes to Jones, who does have issues with pocket awareness and protecting the football, but a young quarterback shouldn’t have been put in a position with minimal offensive weapons and an offensive line that ranked near dead last in pass blocking last season.

The Giants spent heavily in free agency in 2020 to bolster their defense and waited until this past off-season to help the offense improve. What does that mean? It means that the Giants had undrafted free agents starting by the midway point in both of Jones’s first two seasons in the NFL (Jon Hilliman/Austin Mack), which is simply unacceptable for a team that is expecting him to make the leap to franchise quarterback.

Aside from having one of the worst protection schemes in the league, turning over offensive line coaches faster than Eli Apple has changed teams over the last three years, you can start to see the demise in this process. Some analysts have a very narrow view of Jones and his production thus far, making blatant claims that live in ignorance.

Pro Football Network had rash things to say about Daniel Jones and his potential — clearly, this analyst has done very little research extrapolating his thought process, offering stats without context over reason:

21) New York Giants

The Giants are another roster dragged down by their quarterback. If Jameis Winston is a Ferrari 488 that continues to blow a head gasket for some silly reason, Daniel Jones is the Ford Mustang version of that. His 39 turnovers lead the league since entering the NFL in 2019. I should say that he’s more like a Mustang with a massive supercharger on it because his athleticism is greater than Winston’s.

The Giants are in an odd situation because their roster outside of the interior offensive line is solid. I’m not sure they’ll be bad enough to secure their next quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft, even if Jones doesn’t progress this season.

Why New York Giants’ QB Daniel Jones is better than analysts are giving him credit for:

Sure, Jones has turned the ball over a tremendous amount over the past two seasons, but let’s look at some of the positives he produced in that timeframe. Jones has not only proven to be one of the best downfield passers in the NFL but also has tangible traits that not many quarterbacks contain. Jones ran faster than any Lamar Jackson run in his career and was only 0.06 MPH slower than Tyreek Hill’s fastest scamper. Not many other QBs are capable of such physical prowess.

For a passer that loves throwing the ball deep with accuracy, Jason Garrett devised plays that saw the ball travel 20+ yards on less than 10% of his throws. However, according to PFF, when throwing 20+ yards downfield in 2020, Jones recorded a 143.1 passer rating, ranking first in the NFL with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Again, the statistic is slightly skewed based on the sample size being so minimal, but he was extremely efficient in that category, and Jason Garrett failed to capitalize. But why did Garrett force him to throw short and take the deep all out of his equation?

After you put sufficient blame on the offensive scheme and route concepts, you have to look at the offensive line, which barely gave Jones any time in the pocket to operate and progress through his reads. One of the major knocks on Jones is his inability to find his second and third receivers, but he simply doesn’t have the time to get there, focusing on hot routes instead. Why do you think Evan Engram was targeted 43 times in the middle of the field 0-10 yards out?

With more weapons in the offensive system this upcoming season, opposing defenses won’t be able to play cover 1/0 and overwhelm the OL with blitzers. They will have to play two deep safeties, taking a player out of the box, which will help the running game, and Jones’s time in the pocket. He will have a big body possession receiver in Kenny Golladay, a quick slot option in Kadarius Toney, and speed guys on the outside with John Ross and Darius Slayton.

Every move the Giants made this free agency and draft had a specific purpose, and they should benefit Jones tremendously, who was tortured by a terrible front five in 2020 and a lack of wide receiver separation. Consider this statistic, the league average in yards of separation for a receiver was 3.0, and the only Giants receiver to reach that number was Sterling Shepard, who arrived at the average exactly. That should give you an idea of just how poor the Giants were in creating space between themselves and defenders. How on earth are we supposed to blame Daniel Jones for progressing through his reads when his receivers were completely locked down?

Some might look at his TD numbers to justify his lack of talent — but they will conveniently overlook a key contextual clue. Giants running backs accounted for at least 7 TDs from 5-yards of the goal-line. Why is that important? Daniel Jones helped the offense get into scoring position, he just simply didn’t throw the ball in as the Giants relied on their running game in the red zone primarily last year, due to a lack of WIDE RECEIVER SEPARATION!

As we progress through these factors and reasons for Jones’s struggles this past year, it is clear that the majority of the blame should not be placed on his shoulders. With fantastic running ability, downfield accuracy, and his ability to shift arm angles, it is clear that some analysts are doing the bare minimum in their research. Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two from this article and why there’s still hope for Jones.

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