It is two weeks away from New York Giants training camp, and even though practices will be closed to the public for a second straight year, all eyes will be on Daniel Jones’ preparation for his third NFL season. If he succeeds in New York’s retooled offense, the Giants will be legitimate playoff contenders come January. If he fails, he and General Manager Dave Gettleman will likely be out of a job.
Here is a closer look at Jones ahead of his make-or-break year.
Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon, Clayton Thorson
Has Jones justified the Giants’ faith in him?
After two years in the NFL, Jones is still the league’s greatest enigma. He is eerily similar to Eli Manning: a calm passer with obvious talent who is prone to head-scratching mistakes. The difference is that Manning showed the ability to take control of a game early on in his career.
Jones made enough plays during his rookie season to seemingly justify New York’s faith in him. He completed 61.9 percent of his passes and threw 24 touchdowns in 13 games. He had an interception rate of 2.6 percent, a number Manning reached just once in his first 10 seasons.
But Jones unexplainably regressed during his sophomore campaign. He threw just 11 touchdowns, tied for 29th in the league, and did not lead a single fourth quarter comeback. The Giants’ best game came in Week 13 against the Seahawks when he was sidelined with a leg injury.
His focus during Giants training camp will be consistency. It is no longer enough to make a spectacular throw every once in a while; Jones needs to be in control of his own performance.
What defines success for Jones?
The NFL offseason void is always filled by speculative articles and this year the most popular kind revolved around “Josh Allen-type leaps.” The narrative is that Jones will either play at a Pro Bowl level or fail completely.
But at this point, it is unrealistic to expect Jones to suddenly start throwing 60-yard darts on a regular basis. It is, however, reasonable to look for a stronger pocket presence. Jones’ success should be judged based on one very simple metric: the win column.
The first time the Giants put a strong roster around Manning, he led them to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth despite posting a mediocre stat line. Now it’s time to see if Jones can do the same.
Are there really no excuses left?
The theme of the Giants’ offseason has been “no more excuses.” Gettleman signed Kenny Golladay and used a first-round pick on Kadarius Toney to give Jones a superb group of receivers. Saquon Barkley is returning from injury, and the defense is virtually the same as last year’s ninth-ranked group. If Jones fails to produce, there will be no one left to blame — at least in theory.
The Giants return the same offensive line that allowed 50 sacks last year and was ranked second to last by Pro Football Focus. No matter how many weapons Jones has, it will be difficult for him to develop unless his protection improves.
Of course, that does not mean Jones will be given a free pass. He finds himself in a similar situation as Sam Darnold did this time last year: a quarterback who showed potential in his first two years but was surrounded by a mess of an offense. That excuse did not save Darnold from being traded after a third losing season, and it is unlikely to help Jones if the Giants miss the playoffs.
Featured image courtesy of Rich Grassle/Getty Images