The question that keeps coming to mind for New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is: Is it too little, too late for him to establish himself as the franchise piece on the roster?
Jones has been one of the most polarizing players on the team since being drafted back in 2019 under Dave Gettleman‘s leadership. During his rookie season, Jones looked the part of a developmental quarterback with tremendous upside, tossing 24 touchdowns and throwing for over 3000 yards. However, poor decision-making and turnovers plagued his statistics, but he slowly reduced those numbers to a manageable level over the past two seasons.
However, Jones’s statistics took a hit with Jason Garrett calling plays and developing a system around him that simply did not extrapolate on his strengths. In addition, management failed miserably to build an offensive line that complimented his talents.
Some make the argument that good quarterbacks elevate everybody around them. Jones failed to help his protection scheme and offensive weapons improve, which is noted in most negative reviews of the quarterback.
Former NFL scout Tom Rudawsky broke down Jones on The 33rd Team blog:
When you put the tape on, it’s easy to see why so many remain steadfast on the 24-year old. Jones has the prototypical QB frame at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, and possesses top-tier mechanics. At Duke, he was coached by the man who helped groom Peyton and Eli Manning in college — David Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe is highly respected in league circles due to his work with quarterbacks, something that also attracted the Giants to Jones in 2019. Jones has textbook lower body mechanics and footwork, a trait that often leads to very good accuracy to all three levels. He’s got good arm strength — he can drive it into tight windows and deliver it on time across-field. He’s proven to be a very effective deep ball thrower as well. Per NextGenStats, he was the best deep ball thrower (passes 20 yards or more) in the NFL in 2020.
Rudawsky continued, noting Jones’s negatives:
From a scouting standpoint, he still has issues seeing the field at times, forcing the ball into inopportune situations and struggling to hold onto the ball in the pocket when hit. The decision-making makes you scratch your head at times, as he tries to do too much too often. While there are many factors that contribute to the losing (and to some of his turnovers, for that matter), make no mistake about it: Jones rightfully deserves to be held accountable for the 12-25 record and his 49 turnovers. It’s an ugly part of his résumé as a pro, and if he wants to be viewed as a foundational player and mainstay starter, he must show he can escape both labels.
There is no question that Jones possesses the athletic traits to be a solid passer in the NFL, featuring mobility and efficient arm strength at all levels of the field. It is his mental capabilities that often let him down, flailing the football around like a ragdoll with incoming pass rushers and making poor decisions when his protection breaks down.
His inability to get through progressions and happy feet in the pocket remind me of Eli Manning toward the end of his career when the OL broke down and failed to provide sufficient protection.
The problem moving forward is that the Giants are in the middle of a full rebuild under new management. With that being the case, they’ve cut multiple players and have taken a more cost-efficient strategy toward free agency. Jones may be set up to fail once again as the OL will be littered with new players that lack chemistry.
The team also won’t have Sterling Shepard for the start of the season and Kenny Golladay underwhelmed significantly during his first year with Big Blue. Jones’s best chance of increasing his production is by helping Brian Daboll develop a strong scheme that attacks player strengths.
“One of the things that I asked him to do,” Daboll said shortly after being hired. “Give me some things you really like in your last three years, or if you did them at Duke, that’s where [the system] is going to start. With some foundational pieces that he feels comfortable with.”
Of course, it is easier said than done to accomplish that feat, but Jones has the work ethic to get it done. The Giants have to make a tough decision in May regarding Jones’s 5th-year option, which they will likely decline. They can easily extend him or slap him with the franchise tag next year if he excels during the 2022 season. The Giants do have a bit of leverage, but Jones is going to have to outplay his first three seasons significantly if he wants to convince the front office that he can be the future quarterback in East Rutherford.