The critics will point to the 10-23 career won-loss record or that he has only thrown for at least 300 yards just six times as a starter.
But make no mistake: the New York Giants have their franchise quarterback in Daniel Jones, a young man who has proven himself to have the heart of a Giant and who continues to justify the organization’s faith in his ability to lead the team for years to come with each passing week.
Jones, who famously drew some over-the-top fan reactions when he was announced as the draft's sixth overall pick in 2019, has proven it in so many ways, starting with his work ethic, which his coaches and teammates describe as insatiable.
He’s proven it with his toughness and refusal to be treated with kid gloves, and for proof of that, look no further than his ill-advised decision to jump into the training camp fray this summer, where he emerged from the bottom of the pile once the scuffle was broken up.
He’s also been determined—some might say reckless at times—with his own health. Last year, he rushed back from a hamstring injury only to get hurt worse when he couldn't defend himself against a Cardinals pass rush. And this year, he made a rapid recovery from a concussion that left him so woozy that he had to be helped off the AT&T Stadium turf during the Giants’ loss to the Dallas Cowboys a few weeks back.
And despite not having the luxury of his playmakers' consistent availability or a consistent group of offensive linemen to protect him, Jones has done what every good franchise quarterback before him in the modern era has done.
He loads the team on his shoulders in an attempt to carry them over the finish line for the win, such as what he did on Sunday when he put his athleticism on full display as a passer, runner, and receiver capable of a one-handed catch.
“Everybody on the team believes in DJ, whether it’s guys who have played a lot of snaps or guys who have played zero snaps,’’ said receiver Darius Slayton, who came in with Jones as rookies in 2019, Slayton the team’s fifth-round pick that year.
“Everybody out there believes in ‘8’ and knows that if they’re out there with him, they’re gonna have catchable, accurate passes to catch, and at the end of the day, it’s on us to complete them.’’
Jones’s progress might not be linear—it rarely is with any player in the NFL, let alone a quarterback—as we saw two weeks ago when he looked more like a deer caught in the headlights than he did an aspiring franchise quarterback whose middle name is perseverance.
But those days are going to happen, and luckily for the Giants, those days are not as frequent as maybe they were when Jones was initially cutting his teeth in the league.
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“Did Daniel play well (Sunday)? He did,” said head coach Joe Judge. “He did a lot of things that facilitated the offense and helped a lot of players have success.”
But don’t expect Judge, who when he first arrived at 1925 Giants Drive, wouldn’t even mention Jones by name until he got to know the young man personally, to toss an entire bouquet to the quarterback just yet.
“I think any player in any position makes guys around them better. The quarterback’s obviously no exception,” Judge said when asked if a quarterback can raise the talent level around him.
“I think when you’re playing good football, which gives other guys around you an opportunity to have success. When you’re not playing well, it puts more stress on the man next to you, so to me that’s why you have to rely on all 11 to do their job.”
With Jones being one of the 11 Judge references, by that logic, the answer to the question of whether the quarterback can elevate the play around him is a resounding yes.
“Obviously, the quarterback and his position touches the ball every play, he’s the guy the offense runs through. Obviously, he has to play well for anyone to have success,” Judge acknowledged. “You can’t have success just on the quarterback, everyone else needs to play well, as well. You have to protect him, you have to run the ball effectively, you have to get open, the skill players have to catch the ball.”
“Simply put, you can definitely elevate the level of play of the people around you by playing well yourself,” he added.
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