With Eli Manning officially retired, the New York Giants are in the hands of Daniel Jones. Hop aboard the “Dan Wagon.”
Last Friday, two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning hung up his cleats. Although it did not take Jones long to come off the bench last season, it still felt like Manning’s team at times.
After two games and two losses, the Giants benched Manning in favor of the rookie from Duke. That was the first glimpse of the future for Giants fans, but Manning’s officially official retirement marks the symbolic passing of the torch.
Jones had even his biggest doubters eating their words after his first career start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Down 18 at halftime, Jones led the Giants to a wild comeback victory. He threw for 336 yards and four touchdown passes while adding two scores with his legs.
The following week, Jones again led New York to victory again. They dominated the Washington Redskins to the tune of a 24-3 blowout. Jones had a much less impressive 225 passing yards and a touchdown toss, but still, he led the team to victory.
Jones would only win once more in 2019. That said, there were plenty of flashes that proved he’s deserving of the keys to the Giants franchise.
After three straight losses, Jones and the Giants looked to snap their losing skid against the Detroit Lions. The Giants fell behind early after Jones was sacked and stripped, resulting in a Lions touchdown.
Down 14-0, Jones proved to the world why general manager Dave Gettleman was so excited to draft the Duke product. He threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns in a futile comeback attempt. While New York couldn’t overcome Detroit’s early lead, Jones showed his toughness and did not let early mistakes ruin the rest of his day.
That maturity would reappear throughout the season.
With the Giants losing streak at seven games, the team traveled to Chicago to take on the Bears. Down 12 in the fourth quarter, Jones and the Giants were in desperation mode. They faced a fourth and 18 from the Chicago 23-yard line.
Under heavy pressure, Jones stood tall in the pocket and delivered a perfect pass to Golden Tate in the end zone. That touchdown kept the game alive.
— NFL (@NFL) November 24, 2019
While the Giants would again lose, Jones’s will to win was on full display. He also showed off the insanely accurate arm that earned him the nickname “Danny Dimes” during the preseason.
If these moments weren’t enough for Giants fans, Jones put an exclamation point on an exciting rookie campaign Week 16 against Washington.
After missing two games with an ankle injury, Jones returned to the starting lineup. He completed 28-of-42 for 352 yards and five touchdowns.
Despite the defense blowing a two-possession lead, Jones led the Giants to a 41-35 victory in overtime. He led an 11-play, 66-yard drive to assure Washington never touched the ball again.
While Jones showed a lot of positives on film this season, his rookie season was far from perfect.
As mentioned, Jones’ record in his 12 starts was 3-9, which isn’t pretty. However, with the lack of talent around him on both sides of the ball, it’s hard to put much blame on the rookie quarterback.
The real and controllable problem was putting the ball on the turf. Jones led the NFL with 18 fumbles, 11 of which he lost. Since he only played in 13 games, Jones averaged an unacceptable 1.3 fumbles per game.
Poor offensive line play and rookie jitters surely played a part in Jones’ inability to secure the football. There’s hope that with an improvement in the talent on the line and another year under his belt he could improve his fumble issues dramatically.
He’ll need to because the Giants will never be able to win if Jones can’t overcome his turnover woes. Therefore, expect much of his offseason training to be centered around ball protection. Perhaps his training will help him fix the one glaring issue that plagued the rookie quarterback.
Regardless of the fumbles, there were more positives than negatives for Jones in his rookie season. He surely appears to have won over his teammates.
Throughout the season, star running back Saquon Barkley voiced his confidence in Jones. He once said that Jones will soon be among the best in the game.
"He's gonna be one of the best quarterbacks in the league… that's a fact" – Saquon Barkley on Daniel Jones pic.twitter.com/p3FVTmkadF
— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) December 30, 2019
“He’s a heck of a player. He’s going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” Barkley told reporters. “That’s a fact. I know that for sure and not just because of his talent. He’s very talented. But put his talent aside. His work ethic, the way he comes to work. He’s one of the first people in, one of the last people to leave.”
Standout rookie receiver Darius Slayton complemented Jones’ toughness in an interview with Pat Raggazo of Sports Illustrated after the season saying, “He took a lot of shots this year and kept standing in there and making throws, which says a lot about his toughness.”
The New York Giants have the right man to replace Eli Manning. The future is bright because Jones is the right man for the job.