John Feliciano has seen a lot in seven NFL seasons as an offensive lineman for the Raiders and Bills—including the development of Derek Carr and one of the game’s biggest stars, Josh Allen. So as the Giants’ first-string center, and a leading scholar in coach Brian Dabol’s dogma, Feliciano Daniel Jones’ 2022 overhead weights seemed like a good place to start.
Let’s say one is the reverse.
Feliciano stood in the middle of the Giants’ locker room on Tuesday, five days away from the season opener in Tennessee, when asked if he thought his fourth-year quarterback could still be a star in this league.
“Yeah, 100 percent,” Feliciano told The Post. “It’s his work ethic, and he’s super precise with the ball. Obviously he’s not as athletic as Josh. I think Josh is probably the most athletic quarterback in the league. But Daniel certainly can run, and his He definitely has a great hand. So I’m excited to see what he can do this year.”
Everyone who cares about pro football in this market knows the book on Jones. He’s lost 25 out of 37, he’s recovering from a serious neck injury, and he’s already run through more coaches and staff members than anyone can count.
Oh, and Feliciano’s former coworkers at Buffalo — Dabol and general manager Joe Schön — decided against opting for Jones’ fifth year.
Yes, it is true that the rookie head coach and rookie GM have spoken about the professionalism and willingness of the quarterback.
“He’s very hard on it,” Dabol said on Tuesday. “He’s here all the time. He’s more on the cool side, but he’s ultra, ultra-competitive. … I think he’s a good leader.”
Good luck finding anyone inside the Giants facility to say something negative about Jones. Prior to last season, co-owner John Mara said he saw a sixth-overall pick in the 2019 draft as a quarterback that would eventually win a Super Bowl.
“I can say that without hesitation,” Mara told The Post. When asked if he thinks Jones is good enough to win multiple Super Bowls, Eli Manning style, Mara replied, “I don’t know why not, if we put the right pieces around him.”
After the Giants failed to put those pieces in place again in 2021, Mara blamed the organization for “doing everything possible to screw this kid out of here.”
But it was a generous assessment of the situation in favor of Jones, who also deserves his fair share of blame. Although Mara, Shoen and Dabol are all positive and protective things they can say about the quarterback, actions taken by public figures are always more apparent than words spoken by public figures.
Mara, Schoen and Dabol had a chance to guarantee Jones employment for the 2023 season, and they took the pass. You don’t need to know more than this.
It’s the bottom line with Jones, and with every starter in his position: If you can’t reasonably picture your quarterback handing out the Lombardi Trophy before your prime expires, you’ve got to find another. Will happen.
Manning went 11-5 and won a division title for the Giants in his first full year as a starter, and though things got tough for him, it wasn’t too hard to imagine that he would go on to win the championship at some point. But it was good enough. Allen in Buffalo? It’s much easier now to see him win a couple.
That’s where Jones needs to be later this year if he wants to convince his employers that he doesn’t need to draft a top-gun college quarterback to take his place. He has to stay on the field and play effectively for Shoen and Dabol to portray him as clearly a future Super Bowl winner as Mara did in the spring of 2021.
Is this a viable proposition?
Feliciano said, “He wiggles his tail, I’ll let you know.” “He’s always in the weight room or doing extra meetings and holding people up and brainstorming them and telling them how he wants to run things. He’s just a really good leader. I’m here about him before I go. I didn’t know much, but I’m really impressed by who he is.
“When I first moved to Buffalo, Josh was not the Josh he is now. I would say Josh and Daniels were probably in a similar situation. … A year ago, Josh was running around for his life and Was taking a lot of shots. When I went there with a group of other people, we gave him the confidence to stay inside and do what he does.
“So I think with Daniel, it’s the same thing. He’s had to deal with a lot of different things, a lot of different coaches, different line coaches, different people playing the line But I think once he gets some consistency, he will show everyone what he can do.”
On Tuesday, Jones called Dabol’s system “very quarterback friendly for any quarterback.” This season, against the odds, Jones needs to adapt enough to look like the champ of the future.
Anything less than that won’t cut it.