One of the biggest questions entering the NY Giants 2021 season is how QB Daniel Jones will play?
Or, more accurately, which Daniel Jones will lead the offense this season?
Let’s look at the possibilities.
Sunday night, fans got a chance to see Daniel Jones play the entire first half of the preseason game against the Patriots. Granted, Jones did not have many of his first-string skill players other than WRs Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and TE Evan Engram. No RB Saquon Barkley, no WR Kenny Golladay, no TE Kyle Rudolph. In essence, Jones was playing with the same weapons last year, including TE Kaden Smith. And the results were…about the same.
The stat line was also basically the same as DJ finished the half 17 of 22 for 135 yards (just 6.1 yards per catch), 1 TD, and 1 Int with 2 sacks. The 23-yard touchdown pass to Kaden Smith was a thing of beauty, directly over the defender’s head and into Smith’s leaping hands where only he could catch it. However, the endzone interception was such a bonehead, “What are you doing!?!” decision and throw after bringing the team to the Patriots’ 2-yard line. Something else that resembled 2020 was the lack of time Jones had to drop back, set, and throw. He was under pressure most of the time he played. That won’t help DJ avoid miscues. To end on a positive note, Daniel did hold onto the ball and avoid fumbles last night.
In 2019, under Pat Shurmur, Jones displayed a very accurate deep ball and a willingness to throw into tight spots. He threw 24 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions in his first year. But, he had trouble holding onto the ball, fumbling 18 times. So turnovers outnumbered scores in 2019. Shurmur was much more willing to open up the offense than OC Jason Garrett in 2020.
In 2020, under Joe Judge, the focus was very different. Minimize turnovers, protect the ball, and build cohesiveness with a very young offensive line. Therefore, and I want to believe this with my gut, Garrett was not allowed to open the playbook for many deep plays. The Giants were going to pound the ball and run to dominate the line of scrimmage.
And in about Game 4, they started to succeed with this strategy. So Jones was not throwing the ball far downfield. Slayton was hurt, which negated any serious threat the team may have had. As a result, Jones threw just 11 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. While he held onto the ball more despite an increase in sacks, he still fumbled 11 times. Again, turnovers outnumbered scores.
So as we enter the 2021 season, Jones has more weapons. Jones is in his second year of Jason Garrett’s offense and Joe Judge’s trust circle. The offensive line looks to be a work in progress still.
Jones will need better protection to get the ball downfield to his new playmakers. He has the arm. Can he hold onto the ball, avoid poor decisions, and avoid throwing into traffic?
The Giants need the confident Jones with a wide-open playbook to apply pressure to team defenses this year.
Let’s focus on Giants’ scores in the red zone, not turnovers.
Featured Image: All-Pro Reels Photography