Why QB Daniel Jones Doesn't Fit the "Coach Killer" Criteria

One national NFL analyst has nominated New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones as his choice for 2021 "Coach Killer" candidate. Here's why Jones can potentially prove that analyst wrong.
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Another day, another national analyst offers up a "bold prediction" that paints the New York Giants in a negative light.

This time it’s Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports, who, in his 2021 NFL Fearless Forecast column, throws his full support behind Giants quarterback Daniel Jones as his top candidate to win “Coach Killer” honors.

Writes LaCanfora:

Oh, my, does he tend to turn the ball over. Oh, my, do the Giants require massive gains from him. Oh, geez, how they spend on new parts for him on offense. Oh, no, I don't think it will change much at all. And if this goes as poorly as expected, then heads will roll because of it, especially as other NFL teams continue to add young cheap quarterbacks in the interim who far out-produce this one.

Jones has fumbled the ball 29 times in his career and has lost 17 of those balls. On the surface, that doesn’t look very promising to a betting soul looking to make a quick buck that those numbers might grow in 2021.

But an athlete’s progress is typically gauged over time, meaning that the coaches look for signs of growth and improvement by Week 17 over what they saw in Week 1. 

And if we take the coach’s approach to measuring the growth of Jones, we find that four of his six lost fumbles happened in Weeks 1-7, with only two taking place in Weeks 8-17 (albeit those two happening in Weeks 13 and 17).

Progress? While you’d rather that number in Weeks 8-17 be zero, with Jones, who started to show more of a comfort level in the second half of the season, the reduction in lost fumbles is progress.

The spending on new parts for him? Well, gee whiz, when your quarterback’s receivers and tight ends drop 29 passes, putting you in the top-10 among all quarterbacks (seventh, to be exact), why begrudge the team for wanting to upgrade the pass-catching talent?

And not for nothing, but according to Pro Football Focus, Jones was tied with Andy Dalton for the fifth-highest percentage of pressures turned into sacks last year (21.6%), a stat that’s on his pass protection.

Jones is not entirely innocent in how his career has unfolded. As Mark Schofield told me on a recent episode of LockedOn Giants, Jones is still very much guilty of holding onto the ball a little too long most times, resulting in some of his passes delivered late.

Jones has also been guilty of bird-dogging receivers or going to a specific guy who might not necessarily have been his primary read just because of a comfort level developed.

Jones, who has two career come-from-behind wins (both of which came in 2019, his rookie campaign), also needs to morph from being a game manager to a game-winner when the chips are down, and the Giants have their backs against the wall.

And why shouldn’t the Giants expect massive gains from Jones (and all their players, for that matter) every year? Would people rather they remain the same and be stuck in an endless 6-10 loop?

Most people become better at their jobs as they gain experience and a comfort level with what they’re being asked to do and who they have to depend on to get it done. 

From what I can tell, Jones appears to have come a long way in that regard, though he’s by no means a finished product.

But I’m not so sure Jones is worthy of the “Coach Killer” label, not when he at least puts in the time to learn the playbook (unlike what Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa admitted to not doing last year), or when he consistently works at his craft versus taking a sporadic approach, which Washington head coach Ron Rivera revealed to be the case with former quarterback Dwayne Haskins. 

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