We continue our comprehensive look into New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones's "good, great, and ugly" from 2019-2020 with this look at "the great" in his game.
- SEE ALSO: Daniel Jones - The Good (Part 1)
The Great: Legs
This isn’t limited to Jones’ escapability or his ability to be utilized in designed quarterback runs--it’s all-encompassing. A quarterback who struggles to consistently process like Jones needs another way to produce and develop offense. His legs allow him to do this in many ways.
Jones’ proclivity to get injured has to be weighted, but his effectiveness as a runner is underrated--that 80-yard flop against Eagles notwithstanding. Jones’ acceleration, burst, and overall athletic ability allow him to force defenders to play extra gaps.
If the defenders attempt to use backside pursuit on the running back, then Jones can make them pay with his legs. End man on the line of scrimmage (EMOLOS) who are undisciplined will pay against the Giants if they don’t respect Jones’ ability just to take off and run.
On this play against the Eagles, the Giants use Kaden Smith (82) as a lead blocker for Jones, and the EMOLOS doesn’t maintain his assignment, so Jones keeps the football and runs for a touchdown. The acceleration is impressive from Jones.
Watch how the EMOLOS, to the left side of your screen, bites down on the zone read and attacks Devonta Freeman (31), not paying any mind to Jones, who has the lead blocking Smith.
When defenses do this, the Giants have to make them pay. This will allow the Giants to have that one less defender to worry about when they do decide to hand the ball off because the defense has to respect all their gaps, and if the Giants block well upfront, then they will have a higher likelihood of hitting big on the run with that one less defender to account for.
We can see the differences in this run when juxtaposed against the one above; both out of shotgun but on this one, the Giants fake the outside run. Only here, they pull both Cameron Fleming (No. 75) and Kevin Zeitler (No. 70), making this more of a designed quarterback run with a zone/read fake. Jones is able to pick up a good chunk of yardage, but he takes a shot. Jones was hurt on a similarly designed quarterback run against the Bengals.
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This is a different kind of leg usage here, but it was effective. Daniel Jones did a better job maneuvering the pocket down the stretch of the season in 2020. This is a 4th-and-16 play from Jones, who is able to step up and away from the pressure while keeping his eyes downfield, showing very good patience to allow Shepard to get in front of the defender to make the catch.
Keeping his eyes up, showing that patience, and using his legs to avoid the pressure put him into the position to pick up the first down.
Jones also uses his legs to extemporize and extend plays, often leading to the receivers finding a way to evade their covering defenders. There are times when Jones bails too early to his right, but here he does it at a prompt time. This allows Shepard to find a way open, and it moves the chains for the Giants.
As stated earlier, Jones hasn’t had the best supporting cast on the offensive line. They’ve been either young and mistake-prone or old and declining (in the case of 2019 Nate Solder). Either way, Jones makes plays like the one above to avoid sacks and find his check-downs.
There are also times where the play completely breaks down, and Jones finds his way out of the mess to pick up yards with his legs; it’s not always him finding a receiver downfield. He had 423 yards on the ground in 2020, and that is something that can be maintained, but Jones has to do a better job avoiding punishing shots.
Up Next: The Ugly and Some Final Thoughts
More "Good, Great & Ugly" Breakdowns
WR Kelvin Benjamin | RB Devontae Booker | RB Corey Clement | OLB Lorenzo Carter | CB Isaac Yiadom | TE Kaden Smith | WR Kenny Golladay | TE Levine Toilolo | Edge Ifeadi Odenigbo | DT Danny Shelton | OL Zach Fulton | CB Adoree' Jackson | TE Evan Engram | S Jabrill Peppers | S Xavier McKinney | ILB Reggie Ragland | WR John Ross | TE Kyle Rudolph | OLB Oshane Ximines | LB Carter Coughlin | IDL Dexter Lawrence II | WR Darius Slayton | LB Cam Brown | DL Leonard Williams | OL Will Hernandez | IDL Austin Johnson | IDL B.J. Hill | WR Sterling Shepard | ILB Blake Martinez | DB Logan Ryan | C Nick Gates | OT Matt Peart | CB Darnay Holmes | ILB Tae Crowder | CB James Bradberry