The free agency period has come and gone. The draft has concluded. The Giants are improved and Daniel Jones must take the leap in 2021.
A slow development for a young NFL quarterback is a tough situation, but can be justified when there isn’t a spectacular amount of help surrounding him.
That’s basically been the case for Daniel Jones thus far in his career.
Through two years, the 2019 first-round pick of the Giants hasn’t proven to everyone that he’s the organization’s long-term answer at the quarterback position. The turnovers are problematic, the career quarterback rating of 80.4 is underwhelming, and the general inability to be a game-changing signal-caller that can lead Big Blue back to the playoffs worries the fanbase.
But when deciphering his initial pair of years at the professional level, you must take into account the exterior factors that have played a role in the hindered development.
Jones underwent a coaching change from year one to two, an alteration that encompassed two inconsistent offensive play-callers in former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur and current Giants coordinator Jason Garrett. Not to mention, that transition from 2019 to 2020 encompassed the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled any sort of in-person offseason workout.
Jones additionally had a poor offensive line for much of his first two seasons along with a below-average defense that didn’t take much pressure off of him during his 2019 rookie campaign.
The offensive weapons that were supposed to greatly assist in his development were also either inconsistent or in and out of the medical tent, or both. Neither Sterling Shepard nor Darius Slayton has been a true No. 1 wide receiver, Golden Tate was unreliable, Evan Engram undergoes his fair share of on-field issues, and Saquon Barkley has dealt with injuries the last two seasons and still isn’t back to his 2018 rookie-year form.
And speaking of the health-related problems regarding the Giants offense, it’s important to note that Jones, in two years, only appeared in one game where Tate, Shepard, Slayton, Engram, and Barkley all entered healthy — that essentially lasted a quarter. Saquon tore his ACL in the first half of the 2020 Week 2 loss to the Bears.
But now, things are different.
In the midst of a superb offseason for the Giants, Daniel Jones’ excuses are swiftly vanishing.
No more of the “he doesn’t have a No. 1 receiver” argument; the Giants signed Kenny Golladay to a four-year deal in March.
No more of the “he doesn’t have enough offensive weapons” argument; the Giants also signed speedy wideout John Ross, veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph, and drafted dynamic Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round. The latter-most individual is a spectacular pick and should provide speed, athleticism, and sheer versatility to a Giants offense that desperately needs it. Not to mention, Barkley is on track to be ready at the commencement of the 2021 season, and we all know the weapon he’s capable of being when healthy.
“The defense isn’t good enough to take pressure off of him” argument has additionally become invalid; the unit is lightyears ahead of what it was in 2019, thanks to the creativity of coordinator Patrick Graham and acquisitions by Dave Gettleman‘s front office. Not only did the team make the right moves to greatly improve the talent level in and around the secondary, but also locked Leonard Williams in via a three-year extension and drafted talented edge rusher Azeez Ojulari this offseason.
While the organization didn’t make any additions to the offensive line in the draft, the unit is a young group that the Giants believe is on the right track. Expect Andrew Thomas (currently 22 years old), Shane Lemieux (23), Nick Gates (25), and potentially Matthew Peart (23) to perform in starting roles to begin the 2021 season.
And finally, for the first time, Jones will be able to work with the same coaching staff and play-caller for the second consecutive season — an enormous plus. Part of his slow development has involved the need to learn a new playbook each year he’s been in the league, and that won’t be the case this time around.
The young quarterback has the weapons, the familiarity with the coaching staff, the defensive unit to take pressure off of him, and he hopefully will benefit from a developed offensive line.
Time to step up; time to produce; time to succeed; time to win games.
No more excuses for Daniel Jones.