Daniel Jones
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Barring an injury to Eli Manning, Daniel Jones won’t be the Week 1 starter, but it’s possible he may see some action in RPO packages.

Jason Leach

We’re a little over a month away until the New York Giants report to training camp.

The Giants had a very interesting offseason that included trading away three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and drafting quarterback Daniel Jones with the No. 6 in the draft.

The selection of Jones had everybody scratching their head. The belief was that Jones would be available for the Giants with their second first-round pick at No. 17.

However, general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur weren’t willing to risk Jones falling to them at No. 17. Therefore, they went all in with him at No. 6.

In today’s NFL, when you take a quarterback that high in the draft, the expectations are for them to not necessarily be the Week 1 starter, but to see playing time as a rookie.

However, Shurmur made a surprising statement at the end of one of the Giants OTA sessions where he left the door open for Jones to be the Week 1 starter. Shurmur was initially asked if there’s a possibility Jones could win the starting job.

“I think we are going to play the very best player and I know we are dancing around the words there,” Shurmur said. “Right now, Eli is getting ready to have a great year and Daniel is getting ready to play. You see what happens with it. We feel good about where Eli is. He is our starting quarterback and we have a young player that we think is going to be an outstanding player, getting himself ready to play.”

When asked to elaborate on his comment, Shurmur wouldn’t get into specifics.

“We are playing around the words again,” the second-year head coach said. “I’m not trying to be cryptic about it. Eli is getting ready to have an outstanding year and Daniel is getting ready to play. That is really about it.”

Despite what Shurmur said, there’s no way Jones will be the Week 1 starter barring an injury to Eli Manning. There’s nothing Jones can do in the limited amount of time that he’ll play in the preseason to supplant Manning who is entering his 16th season as the starter for Week 1.

New York Giants

In addition, co-owner John Mara wouldn’t allow the last quarterback acquired by his father, Wellington Mara, and arguably the best quarterback in the history of the franchise deal with the embarrassment of being beaten out by a rookie in the preseason.

We saw how Mara reacted when former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo benched Manning for Geno Smith in 2017. So, people shouldn’t read more into Shurmur’s comments other than he’s trying to create healthy competition. A competition that’ll ultimately bring out the best in both Manning and Jones.

Although Jones won’t be the starter, he could see the field early on in some run-pass option packages.

One of the upsides for Jones is his ability to make plays with his legs. Jones’ mobility was on display at OTAs as he executed a read-pass option, running the ball for a huge gain.

 

We’ve seen teams execute this strategy last season. They’ll have a veteran quarterback as the starter, but also have a young quarterback come in for some packages where they can use their mobility.

The New Orleans Saints did this when bringing in Taysom Hill at quarterback in place of Drew Brees in some RPO packages. The Ravens also did this early last season when they brought in Lamar Jackson in place of Joe Flacco prior to Jackson supplanting Flacco as the starter.

Shurmur likes Jones’s mobility because it adds another dimension to the Giants offense that opens up the playbook. Not to mention, it’s another element that opposing defenses have to prepare for.

Expect Manning to remain the starter as long as he’s healthy and the Giants are still in playoff contention. But don’t be surprised if you see Jones on the field for a few plays, especially on third-and-short where he can utilize his legs and arm.

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