Wide Right Podcast 47
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Daniel Jones had a very promising rookie season for the New York Giants. There are still parts of his game he needs to improve on though.

People criticized, laughed at, and mocked the New York Giants for selecting Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick last year. Many believed they should’ve taken an edge rusher. Others believed if they were going to select a quarterback that early, it should’ve been Dwayne Haskins.

Jones at least suppressed the criticism with his promising play in 2019. Throwing for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns, Jones proved that he’s on his way to becoming Big Blue’s quarterback of the future.

But not everything was perfect though. Jones is still very much a young quarterback at 22 years old. And with that, there are a number of things he’ll need to improve on ahead of his sophomore campaign.

The turnovers

This one is obvious, even if you didn’t watch all 13 of his appearances this past year. A simple glance at the stat sheet does the trick.

Jones succumbed to numerous mistakes with the football, which led to 12 picks, 18 total fumbles, and 11 lost fumbles. The latter two statistics both led the league.

In the pros, there’s a “no excuses” mantra across pretty much every team and player. Nevertheless, there are indeed a pair of reasons why Jones struggled with this aspect so much.

For one, he still needs to become accustomed to pro-style offenses. Jones took the majority of his snaps in college from the shotgun. That could cause some difficulty handling the football when running plays under center, which is exactly what he did within Pat Shurmur‘s offense in 2019.

A great deal of the turnover issues also has to do with coaching, which was definitely a weakness for the Giants last season. Shurmur wasn’t the right man for the position, and it’s unfortunate that Jones had to start his career learning from someone who didn’t fit the bill of a head coach.

In 2020, Jones will be working with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, an individual who possesses experience in developing young quarterbacks. Just a few years ago, Dak Prescott was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 draft and was a Pro Bowler nine months later. It’s not like he’s dealt with the turnover issues that Jones had in 2019 either, as he’s lost just 15 fumbles in four years (3.75 per year).

Issues in the fourth quarter

Eli Manning could’ve struggled for three quarters, sometimes 3.5. But it was always the late-game heroics that made fans love him for the player he was. Jones wasn’t that type of quarterback in 2019, as the final period was usually his worst quarter out of all four.

In spite of his heroics in the Week 3 win over Tampa Bay, Jones completed 57.7% of his throws with two touchdowns and four picks across all the fourth quarters he played. This was the lowest number of touchdowns out of every quarter and also the lowest completion rate. He put up 64.7%, 62.0%, and 66.3% overall completion percentages in the first, second, and third quarters, respectively. Jones additionally threw three, 11, and seven touchdown passes in the first three quarters, also respectively.

Granted, the Giants were on the losing end of garbage time in a number of matchups, as they finished 4-12 with an overall point differential of -110. Therefore, performing better towards the end of some games wouldn’t have decided wins and losses. The issues are still something to look into though when it comes to improving as a quarterback.

It definitely shouldn’t be a point of concern for Giants fans just yet either. Once Jones becomes more accustomed to the league, the issues in the fourth quarter should fade, just like they did with Manning.

The ability to compete against playoff-caliber teams

Some of Jones’ worst performances were against ballclubs that eventually made the postseason. This includes the Minnesota Vikings (Week 5), New England Patriots (Week 6), and Green Bay Packers (Week 13).

The October loss to the then-defending champs in New England was arguably his worst game. In a “Thursday Night Football” matchup at Gillette Stadium, Jones only completed 48.4% of his throws with three interceptions and a 1.48 adjusted yards per attempt rate. Each statistic was a season-worst for the young quarterback.

Playing Green Bay was no picnic either. In the snow at MetLife Stadium, Jones again threw three picks with a 54.1% completion rate along with a 3.38 adjusted yards per attempt rate. The latter two statistics were the second-lowest of the season in their respective categories.

And finally, there was the Week 5 home loss to Minnesota, where Jones completed just 55.3% of his throws for an adjusted yards per attempt rate of 4.13. Each statistic was the third-lowest in their respective categories.

Performing well against the teams with weak defenses (four touchdown passes vs. the Lions, five touchdown passes vs. the Redskins) is fine, that’s what should be done. But playing your best football against the high-powered teams is what will take your game — and your reputation as a player — to the next level. Jones has a chance to do so in the future.

His overall accuracy

Completion percentage is one of the more underrated statistics at the quarterback position. The ability to make not just the easy passes, but also the tight-window throws when you’re under pressure or on the run all factor into your success as a quarterback. It can also elevate the performance level of your offense.

Out of the top 10 most accurate quarterbacks this past year, six made the Pro Bowl, seven led their team to the postseason, six were part of a top-10 offense (in total yards per game), and six were part of a top-10 scoring offense (points per game).

Jones was way back on this list at No. 24 (61.9%), despite impressing in numerous other categories. We know he can use his arm to drive down the field and score points (13th in touchdown passes, 11th in touchdown percentage). But in order to reach the next level, he’s going to need to work on his overall accuracy.

It’ll come with age and experience. Just look at Drew Brees, who’s three highest single-season completion rates have come in the last three seasons. Even Peyton Manning struggled with his accuracy in year No. 1, only completing 56.7% of his throws. Patience is key to this, as it’s yet another weakness that Giants fans shouldn’t worry about at the moment.

If his accuracy doesn’t improve in the next few seasons, then you start to become concerned. But right now, all you can do is sit back and hope for the development to go smoothly.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.