We may not know exactly who Jones is yet. But this much seems clear: He’s not a miracle worker. Even if he stays healthy, protects the football and Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka give him the schematic advantage he’s never had here, Jones will need help to turn this prove-it season into a future as the franchise quarterback. And there is no sign help is coming. The opposite, in fact.
Consider Jones’ supporting cast:
• Golladay, who is on the fast track to becoming the worst free agent signing in team history.
• Kadarius Toney, whose unreliability outweighs his potential at this point.
• Darius Slayton, who will almost assuredly be cut or traded by Week 1.
• Sterling Shepard, a 29-year-old who has missed 20 games over the last three seasons and is coming off an Achilles tear.
• Wan’Dale Robinson, a rookie who was overdrafted in the second round.
• Daniel Bellinger, a rookie tight end who was a Day 3 pick.
• Richie James and Collin Johnson, two fringe roster guys who have flashed.
Yes, Saquon Barkley is also a factor here. And he is back to 100% by all accounts. He has also missed 21 games in the last three seasons. Even if the Giants manage to tap into his ability as a weapon in the passing game, they cannot rely on him to carry the load. He’s just not durable enough. And the jury remains out on whether he will be able to run the ball effectively behind the new-look offensive line. Veteran journeymen only accomplish so much. And there are still serious depth concerns.
Many assessments of Jones hit on one of two extremes: He is a budding star about to break out under Daboll after being hamstrung by Joe Judge, Jason Garrett and Freddie Kitchens the last two years. Or he is a complete bust destined to be dumped for Tyrod Taylor this fall before trying to salvage his career as a backup somewhere next season.
We would argue this: If healthy, Jones has the ability to be a top-15 or so quarterback in the NFL. The turnovers are a concern for Jones, but it’s not like Eli Manning was a paragon of ball security. If he can cut down on them a tad, it’s survivable. And from that point, it’s about maximizing what he is.
You can win games and playoff berths with a top-15 quarterback. Maybe even get to/win the Super Bowl with the right roster and a bit of luck. It’s not the ideal road, but it’s a manageable one. But it’s hard to envision how Jones will ever get to try, thanks in large part to his receivers. This is not the group of pass catchers you want to fight for your professional life with.
Even if Jones improves, his weapons will hold him back. That — and a defense that will struggle after letting two of its best players walk away for free — will lead to another miserable losing season. At which point there will be nothing to make the Giants refrain from moving on. If Jones had playmakers, things could be different. But he doesn’t, so they likely won’t be.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]