Daniel Jones Is Winning Over His Draft-Day Haters

The Giants picking Jones with the sixth pick in the NFL draft five months ago elicited many dramatic reactions from fans, several of which went viral. We spoke with one, wondering if he’s changed his mind in the time since.
Author:
Publish date:
Daniel Jones

Nearly six months ago, Matt Michelman tweeted out a video of his reaction to the Giants selecting Duke QB Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. OH NOOOOO! He yelled out in frustration. The fans sitting around him at the Giants draft night party at MetLife Stadium muttered similar frustrations and the crowd buzzed with anger. OH SH-- someone else shouted.

The visceral reaction from Giants fans was prompted by the popular thinking that New York wasted a high pick on Jones, because he may have still been available to draft with their second first round pick, no. 17.

By the time the Giants selected Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence with the No. 17 pick, Michelman’s tweet had reached viral heights. Outlets from across the world were replying to his tweet, seeking permission to use his video on their broadcasts and websites.

Michelman, a Giants season ticket holder whose been attending games since 1987, had never seen such a negative response to a Giants draft pick before.

“It was just exasperation and disgust,” he says. “I was focused on defense, I thought [Kentucky linebacker] Josh Allen was what they needed and knowing they had the second first round pick, I thought that was when to go quarterback. All the dots connected to get to Jones, it was just that nobody thought it would be at No. 6.”

Before the season started, many thought that Jones could make his NFL debut after Thursday night’s Week 6 game against New England. As an almost-middle point in the season, it seemed the most natural time to reevaluate the quarterback position—and the Giants would almost definitely lose to the defending champions.

Instead, Jones got the start in Week 3 in Tampa Bay, leading a come-from-behind victory on the road and earning the respect of the fanbase.

“He looks like the real deal,” Michelman says now. “Coming out, we knew he was a Cutcliffe product, so we always thought he could capably play, the question was how high is his ceiling? I hope that I look like one of those idiots. I couldn’t be happier to be wrong.”

Jones’s current stats aren’t that impressive (190 passing yards per game, four touchdowns, three interceptions, nine sacks), but he’s playing behind an iffy offensive line, and his best trait is his willingness to stay in the pocket instead of bail for a run. He has the ability to extend every play by giving his receivers an extra second to find separation. According to former quarterback and analyst Ron Jaworski, Jones is the league’s highest rated passer on third-and long, with a 115.8 passer rating.

But Jones has shown maturity beyond his rookie status. He doesn’t look confused, and he doesn’t get rattled by pressure. The quarterback is also very athletic and can make plays on his feet (13 rushes for 78 yards and two touchdowns), something Giants fans haven’t seen from their quarterback in a long time.

Weirdly enough, Jones is one of the more talented quarterbacks New England has faced so far this season. Think about it: The team has played an injured Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Rosen/Ryan Fitzpatrick, Luke Falk, Josh Allen and Colt McCoy. At the very least, Jones has the most potential of that group of passers, but he’ll have his work cut out for him with a defense that has allowed the league’s fewest yards and points this season. If that weren’t enough, the Giants most effective offensive weapons, running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Evan Engram, running back Wayne Gallman, and receiver Sterling Shepard are all out with injuries.

Michelman says the Giants fanbase have now embraced Jones, and the attitude towards the team has completely shifted since the Buffalo loss at home, which wound up being Eli Manning’s last start.

“The fans are wearing Danny Dimes t-shirts, with a dime with Daniel Jones face on it,” he says. “There is an energy and an anticipation and you can feel that in the crowd.”

Even Bill Belichick threw some credit to the Giants rookie, who New England studied in the draft process and hosted for a top-30 visit. “He’s shown a lot of poise in the pocket,” Belichick said. “He’s been hit a few times, but he just stands in there and can keep ripping it. So, he’s been impressive.”

Since Jones has been playing well, Michelman has received more notifications from his viral video tweet. It’s mostly other NFL fans checking in to needle him. What does he think of Jones now? All Michelman can say is he’s relieved that his initial reaction now looks so silly.

Not getting The Morning Huddle and SI’s all-new Fantasy Football newsletter in your inbox? Subscribe here.

***

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: POWER RANKINGS. … Albert Breer on Derrick Brown’s rising draft stock. … Conor Orr on Sam Darnold’s return from mono.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Who wants to be Dan Snyder’s next head coach? ... The NFL’s interception rate has been declining since 1970. Why? … The trouble with tanking.

***

PRESS COVERAGE

1. The handshake controversy continues. As scouts say, the tape don’t lie, and Richard Sherman admits Baker Mayfield deserves an apology.

2. The NFL upheld Vontaze Burfict’s season-long suspension.

3. Donald Trump called to congratulate Kirk Cousins after the Vikings win over the Giants.

4. Cam Newton will miss his fourth straight game and will not travel with the Panthers to London.

5. The mothers of Gardner Minshew and Daniel Jones weigh in on the sudden fame and attention their sons now receive as rookie starters.

6. Rihanna tells Vogue that she turned down the Super Bowl halftime show in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.

***

THE KICKER

Simone Biles deserves your attention.

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.