It appears that 2-0 New York Giants fans are revealing a softer, gentler side – at least temporarily – when it comes to their view of often despised quarterback Daniel Jones.
Asked this week whether they approved of Jones’s way of playing during victories over the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers, 68 percent of voters in our weekly ‘SB Nation Reactions’ poll said they judged Jones’ performance in those games. Approved.
Of course, there are two ways to watch Jones’ game during the first two weeks.
Glass half full approach:
- The Giants have won two games and Jones led a game-winning fourth quarter drive in both of them. He has taken important throws and important decisions in both. He led only three game winning drives in his first three seasons.
- Jones is completing 70.9 percent of his passes, which is significantly higher than his 2021 career-best 64.3 percent.
- Jones’ passer rating of 99.4 is nearly 12 full points higher than the career-best 87.7 he had as a rookie.
- Jones has three touchdown passes and one (albeit ugly) interception. His 5.5 percent touchdowns and 1.8 interception percentages are career-best.
Glass half empty approach:
- The Giants have yet to throw 200 yards in a game and their passing average of 159.0 yards per game is 31st in the 32-team NFL.
- Jones has two passing plays for 20+ yards. Thirty-one quarterbacks have more.
- The Giants are ranked 30th in the league. He is 23rd in yards per passing attempt at 6.6.
- Jones has career average deficits in passing yards per game (182.0) and yards per completion (9.3).
- Jones’ QBR, ESPN’s quarterback value of 0-100, measuring 30.4 is the worst of his career. It ranks 28th out of 32 starting quarterbacks so far.
- Jones is ranked 27th per ESPN with 2.8 in expected points added (EPA) for quarterbacks. His 2.4 EPA on pass attempts is also 27th.
How the Giants See Jones
The Giants’ coaches and players, as you’d expect from them, are carrying the glass half full.
Head coach Brian Dabol and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka both praised Jones’ decision-making.
“I think he’s made really good decisions. There are always plays in which we can be better. But his decision-making process – where he’s gone with football – he’s made the right decisions, I would say, a lot. Some. And that helped,” said Dabol. “Quarterback work — I’ve been part of teams where we were 35 out of 40 for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, and I’ve been part of teams where we were 21 in 17, whatever it may be. His job is to help the offense advance football, whatever it may be. It starts with the decision making at the quarterback. He touches the ball in every game. And he’s done a good job of it. We will continue to build it. But I’m happy where he is.”
Here’s Kafka when you actually asked about Jones’ decision-making this week and the lack of big plays that take away from the game thus far:
“I think he is [Jones] Doing a great job with football,” Kafka said. “There was a turnover in the red zone which I am sure would like to come back, as will all of us. I think he’s doing a great job with football. He’s managing the game, he’s playing within the system and I think the big plays you see are going to happen.
“You never want to go out there and force a whole bunch of things. That’s where the wrong decisions happen. That’s where the turnover happens. I guess you keep playing within the system, let the system do the work for you.” And make the offense work for you and then you’ll see those things show up.”
The players also support the work done by the quarterback so far.
Wide receiver David Sills said he believes Jones is playing at a “high level”.
“He has done a really good job of making the right decisions and leading our offense, especially in clutch situations when we need points. He has been able to field us and get us points,” said Sills. “Obviously, I think if you ask someone about the offense, I think you will say that there are still opportunities for us to play better.
“I think these DJs have handled themselves very well.”
Richie James, the team’s lead receiver with 11 catches in two games, said the Giants are only taking what is available.
“You can tell that he is [Jones] Taking only what the defense gives you. We cannot force something that is not there. There’s a 5-yard pass that’s right here we’re just trying to get yards, get down the field and score points. That’s our goal,” James said. “Gaj will come, but we are just trying to play our game and execute our assignments. We’re not worried about what’s out there. In fact, we worry about what’s here and what we need to pay attention to.”
Winning games with less than 200 passing yards is not sustainable in today’s NFL. The Giants need more yardage, more explosive plays through the air. So obvious, and irrational.
However, there are several things to keep in mind.
The Giants are just two games away in this new era. With Vandell Robinson injured, Kadarius Tony is not fully recovered and Kenny Golladay is not playing at wide receiver at full strength or building the Giants. To be honest, they probably don’t have the depth of talent and a whole bunch of the types of receivers they want yet.
Daniel Bellinger has a 16-yard touchdown catch, but the Giants have just three receptions for 38 yards from their tight end. Looks like they don’t have a dynamic player in that space, at least not now.
It is clear that the offensive line is not a finished product. Interior work on that line is in progress.
Has Jones missed a few chances to throw the ball down the field? Perhaps. Maybe not. I honestly don’t know.
It’s possible that fans watching the replays as a missed vertical opportunity may never have a realistic alternative to Jones. As someone I respect who knows offensive concepts and quarterback play, he told me that the Giants’ passing attacks are based on “low to high,” meaning the quarterback looks short at first and only short throws. Deep in the field when not available. Could this be part of what some people are seeing? I don’t know, but it’s a thought.
What I do know is that the Giants have won two football matches. They are 15th in the league with 20.0 points per game, not great but having improved over the past two years. Jones had led two game-winning drives and has contributed both with his hands, his legs and his mind.
There are positive signs in my view. Crime, and Jones, still needs to do more. However, steps have been taken in the right direction. The DraftKings sportsbook has the Giants as a 1-point favorite over the Dallas Cowboys this week, so clearly Vegas is starting to believe too.
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