The Giants said they believed in Daniel Jones, but their decision not to pick his fifth-year option said something else: that they were hedging their bets.
Jones is smart enough to figure that out. As far as the Daily News can tell, he’s not lowering his head. He’s more determined than ever to take on the challenge of proving his worth as No. 6 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
“Me personally, watching him and seeing Daniel, it’s the same Daniel,” Saquon Barkley said this week at a United Way charity event in Manhattan. “He comes every day and works because he wants to be awesome.”
Several league sources are looking at this team, however, and they don’t see an optimal situation for Jones to thrive and win immediately, even after the first-round pick of right tackle Evan Neal.
This is the first year of a long-term rebuild and salary cap cleanup. So is it fair to expect Jones to become a franchise QB when the team around him still doesn’t seem ready?
Absolutely, said Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, who has overcome much longer hurdles as an undrafted quarterback than a first-rounder like Jones.
“Everyone wants to get their big deal two years before the end of the contract and want teams to commit to it for the next decade, but it doesn’t work that way,” Warner, 50, an analyst with NFLNetwork. . “Daniel has to be realistic and say ‘You know what? I haven’t played at this level yet to say I’m a franchise guy.
“That doesn’t mean he can’t,” said Warner, a former giant. “The lack of weapons around him could be a reason why he doesn’t have any yet. And that doesn’t mean the Giants don’t believe in you. That doesn’t mean they don’t want you to be that franchise quarterback. But the money in this position is crazy.
So Warner said the Giants’ decision to avoid picking the $22.384 million fifth-year option made sense to him. He doesn’t think the Giants talk out of both sides of their mouths. He thinks Jones still has a real shot at locking down that long-term job.
“I think it was the right thing to do by the organization and in line with how Daniel has played so far,” Warner said. “But I don’t think that contradicts what the Giants are saying. They say we will put a team around him and create an infrastructure so that he has the chance to show us what he will become. And if he does, we’re going to sign him to this deal.
“But he hasn’t shown us yet.”
Jones, 24, knows he hasn’t done enough, although a lack of quality players around him and a revolving door of players have been major contributors to the disappointment.
“I take full responsibility for the way I played, and we didn’t win enough games,” Jones said in early April. “We didn’t score enough points. We haven’t done it well enough. I take responsibility for it. »
Former Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, when asked about Jones’ long odds this week, viewed the situation with optimism for the Giants QB.
“I think opportunity is all you can ask for in this league, especially at quarterback,” Fitzpatrick said at Willie Colon’s charity golf event in Summit, NJ. “There are only 32 jobs. So having the opportunity to go and play is all one can ask for. And you are going to prove it or not.
A source also pointed out that the fifth-year option wouldn’t have provided Jones with more security as a Giants starter in 2023 anyway. option, the team would still be looking to sign a quarterback next spring.
If he plays well, they can keep his rights for 2023 with the franchise tag (about $31 million) or the transition tag (about $28 million), or sign him long-term.
Giants general manager Joe Schoen, however, will be in a tight spot next year if Jones falters.
Schoen was unable to turn this year’s overflowing project capital into an additional first round for next year. And he also didn’t draft a midterm quarterback for coach Brian Daboll to develop.
The Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, and Miami Dolphins all have multiple first rounds in 2023, and all five have a chance at the QB draw.
So while the Giants have cautioned Jones, they have a lot on him to turn the corner.
Yet what exactly would it mean for Jones to take the next step? Apart from winning more games, what should he show?
Warner said it’s important to “temper expectations” and not demand a Josh Allen-style “transcendent leap” just because Jones executes the same offense Daboll used in Buffalo. He called Allen a “unique and special” talent.
But he said “when you’re playing the game, you have to do second-tier throws consistently when you’re not playing in a perfect world. And in that offense, Josh Allen had the opportunity to make those second-tier throws, and that’s what separated him – his ability to make those throws.
“I’m not sure that’s Daniel’s game,” Warner added. “Is it because of the system and where he’s been, or because of who he is and the way he has to play the game? That’s the biggest question about this offense and the fit. Are they going to try to get him to do the things that Josh Allen did? And if they do, Daniel is going to show us if he can be that kind of guy.
Giants head coach Brian Daboll said this week on WFAN that he wants Jones to “don’t fear the consequences, pull the trigger and attack.”
As conservative as Jason Garrett led the Giants’ plays in 2020, there was a reason for this strategy: to help Jones protect the ball and curb bad calls and turnovers.
Warner said the Giants will never get a good read on their quarterback, however — or compete in modern play — if they don’t give Jones the freedom to show what he’s got.
“You’ll never be a great team or compete for a championship if you keep a leash on your quarterback, if he doesn’t do what it takes to compete with the best in the league,” Warner said. That’s the approach you have to take with Daniel, it’s “show us”. We want you to be that guy, now it’s time to do your part and be that guy. If you keep handcuffing him, you’re just saying he’s not that guy.
Barkley, 25, who is playing on his fifth-year option in 2022, can relate to Jones’ predicament and pressure. And he thinks Jones is about to lead a “special team”.
“DJ, he’s a hell of a guy, a hell of a player,” Barkley said. “The best advice I can give him is the same I give myself: keep working and the rest will happen. The pieces will fall together.