New York Giants 2020 Position Review: Quarterbacks

New York Giants QB Daniel Jones didn’t take that step forward many hoped he would in his second season from a statistical perspective. But how much of that was on him versus his supporting cast? And is Colt McCoy worth bringing back on another contract?
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Daniel Jones’ final season-ending stats don’t look all that much different from what he recorded as a rookie to the naked eye.

In his second season, Jones completed four fewer passes (280 to 284) on nine fewer attempts (459 to 448) for a slightly better second-year completion rate (62.2% to 61.9).

He even developed as a runner, rushing 65 times for 423 yards and a touchdown, often using his legs to get him out of trouble.

The yardage total was way down—3,027 to 2,943—and Jones didn’t record a single 300-yard game.

The interceptions were close—12 as a rookie, ten this year. His average yards per attempt was dead even—6.6 yards/attempt, and his average air yards were off by .4 from last year’s average.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Jones hasn’t thrown for 300 yards in a game since Week 17 of his rookie season (301 yards vs. the Eagles), and his touchdowns dropped from 24 in his rookie season to 11 last year.

That Jones stayed pretty much the same despite learning his second offensive system as a pro in as many years and without an off-season to work on the actual execution is a positive development. At no point this year did Jones looked so completely baffled that head coach Joe Judge contemplated sitting him. 

Daniel Jones (PFF Grade: 78.4)

Daniel Jones's overall grade improved over his rookie season grade (65.9) despite the drop off in touchdowns thrown.

If you want an idea of what Jones can be as an NFL quarterback, look at the performance he delivered in the regular-season finale against the Cowboys. Jones wasn't spectacular, but he was solid in giving his team a chance to win by playing a mentally sharp and safe game and making the plays that were out there to be made, throwing the ball with touch and accuracy, be they short, intermediate or long.

Jones's durability concerns continue and probably will continue as long as he's in the saddle. For the second year in a row, Jones suffered a lower-body injury (this time a strained right hamstring) while taking off as a runner. A couple of weeks later, when he tried to rush back from that injury, he suffered a sprained left ankle when his lack of mobility found him caught in the pocket where he was sandwiched between two Cardinals defenders.

Lower body injuries are not Jones' friend. In the four games he played with his injuries, Jones was sacked 14 times, an average of 3.5 sacks per game, slightly up from the 3.1 sacks per game he took in his first ten games.

Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/ via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/ via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Where Jones was most affected by his injuries is not only in his ability to run but in his ability to open up and step into his throws. Therein lies the concern with Jones. If his mobility is limited or taken away from him, can he still get it done with just his arm like any quarterback is supposed to?

There were other questions that Jones didn't exactly answer in his second season. These included his ability to see the entire field and his pocket awareness. (Perhaps, the latter item might have been affected by the offensive line rotation and his trust in different guys to read things uniformly.)

He also had times where he bird dogged his primary receivers, though those instances decreased as the year went on. But Jones also did a nice job identifying blitzes and setting up the protections, which was a big help to a rotating offensive line seeing a reduction in sacks and pressures toward the back end of the season.

The biggest question--his pocket awareness--is still a work in progress, which quarterback coach Jerry Schuplinski said is coming along. Still, it's something that Jones needs to realize when to call it a play when the pocket around him is collapsing rather than to try to be a hero and take an unnecessary risk with the ball.

Colt McCoy (PFF Grade: 60.6) - UFA

Colt McCoy was pressed into action for two games, winning one (vs. Seattle) and losing one (vs. Cleveland).

What McCoy gives you is a smart, solid performance mostly filled with correct reads and decisions. However, one of his most significant limitations is the lack of ideal arm strength.

A perfect example of this occurred in the game against the Cleveland Browns, in which McCoy had a chance to connect with tight end Evan Engram in the end zone for six but underthrew the pass. In that game against Cleveland, McCoy reminded people why he's yet to catch on as a starter somewhere as he left too many plays on the field.

With all that said, McCoy, an unrestricted free agent, by the way, was a nice addition to the Giants quarterbacks room. He worked well with Jones both on and off the field, setting up that passing camp down in Texas when teams couldn't hold off-season programs due to the pandemic.

And McCoy never once rocked the boat about getting more playing time, always acknowledging Jones's rightful place as the starter and even going so far as to thank him for his assistance when McCoy had to start.

Off-season Outlook

For those clamoring for another quarterback, it’s not happening, and not just because the Giants don’t have a top-10 draft pick.

The team’s brass—co-owner John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman, and head coach Joe Judge—have all echoed their support of Jones as the team’s franchise quarterback. And Mara and Gettleman both agree that Jones needs more playmakers around him to take that all-important step forward in his upcoming third year.

“We're going to find the right guys to help Daniel get us over that hump,” Gettleman vowed without going into specifics.

(We’ll address the specifics as we get to the corresponding position groups in the coming days.)

Last year, McCoy signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract with $1.7 million guaranteed. Regardless of his arm strength issue, there's certainly no reason not to try to re-sign him to a deal that might even include some playing time incentives to sweeten the pot further.

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