Countdown to Camp: Who Will Be Daniel Jones' Backup?

Gene Clemons

Daniel Jones is the unquestioned starting quarterback for the Giants. The team and fans will be hoping that he makes great strides in his second season in New York, but if Jones can't answer the call for a week or more so the backup position will be crucial for the Giants. 

The backup has to understand his status on this team. He's not beating out Jones, so he needs to fill a mentorship role and prepare himself to be ready when needed. This is an awkward position for a quarterback who believes he should be a starter, so an ability to humble himself is necessary.

Colt McCoy is the most accomplished quarterback on the roster. McCoy signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract with the Giants that includes $1.7 million guaranteed. That's a contract that dictates that he will be around for the coming season. 

He is familiar with the NFC East after spending the previous five seasons with Washington. Earlier this off-season, he helped Jones coordinate a passing camp for teammates down at the University of Texas in Austin. 

McCoy has proven to be a guy who can start in the NFL under the right circumstance. In 2014 he started a few games, including a 392-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Colts where he completed over 70% of his passes.

Alex Tanney has been in and out of the league for many years and is the very definition of a journeyman. In 2012, he was picked up by Kansas City but then was out of football for 2013. 

In 2014 and 2015, he was with Tennesee before again not being on a 53-man NFL roster during the 2016-17 seasons (he was, however, on practice squads or in camp with NFL teams), joining the Giants in and last season on a two-year $2.15 million contract. 

His only legitimate playing time was with Tennesee in 2015. He went 10 of 14 for 99 yards and a touchdown. Although he's the only backup with experience with the Giants, the new coaching staff renders that experience negligible.

Cooper Rush is an interesting pick-up for the Giants. He comes to New York from Dallas, where he spent the first three years of his career learning behind Dak Prescott and in Jason Garrett's offense. 

He has a restructured contract this season with the Giants worth $1.25 million. Rush is younger and could be a guy who grows with Jones. He definitely should have a better understanding of the offense and that ability to tutor Jones, and it could help him earn the shot as a backup.

Case Cookus is a rookie out of Northern Arizona. He threw for 4,000-plus yards and 31 touchdowns in his final season. He was picked up by the Giants as an undrafted free agent. There's a good chance that he's a camp arm, but maybe he can make the practice squad.

Head coach Joe Judge hasn't said whether he'll keep one or two backups behind Jones, but my guess is there will be two, and those will be the two that can provide the most information to Jones. 

Case Cookus provides little information for Jones. Although Tanney is older, his sporadic experience might put him at a disadvantage behind McCoy and Rush, both of whom offer game experience and schematic knowledge. 

McCoy can provide Jones with knowledge about how to be a pro and how to perform in particular situations. He can be like an extra coach in the quarterback room. 

Rush will be able to give pointers on the offense and how to operate in it. Garrett liked him in Dallas, and when he had the chance to bring him along to New York, he made it happen. I ultimately think that McCoy wins the backup role, and Rush falls into the number three position.