Thursday night is a big night for the New York Giants. Not because they are playing the New York Jets in a preseason. That doesn’t matter. Not even a little bit.
It is a big night because it is the first time the organization — and the fan base — will see Daniel Jones, the quarterback in whose hands the team’s future rests, in game action.
Now, if Jones plays well that doesn’t mean he should be anointed as a star and Eli Manning should immediately be sent to the bench. Conversely, if he plays poorly that doesn’t mean the Giants made a mistake taking him No. 6 overall, he should be labeled a bust, and the Giants should immediately begin planning to dip back into the quarterback pool in the 2020 NFL Draft.
What am I looking for from Jones?
I’m not looking for him to set the world on fire. I am looking for the young man to simply look like an NFL quarterback. I want to see that the stage doesn’t look too big. That he doesn’t look overwhelmed or in over his head. I want to see him make some NFL caliber throws and perhaps use his athleticism once or twice to make plays with his feet.
To be honest, from what I have been able to observe going all the way back to rookie mini-camp, I think Jones will pass all of those tests.
From the day Jones first set foot on the practice field at Quest Diagnostics Training Center, he has looked like he belongs. There haven’t been any practices, or even individual throws, where you’ve thought “the Giants seriously drafted THAT GUY No. 6 overall?”
Now, I know some in the media and fan base could’t — and still don’t — believe that the Giants did that. His work thus far, though, hasn’t given credence to the question.
Jones has made all of the NFL caliber throws you need to see — go routes, deep outs, seam throws with enough velocity, off platform throws. He’s handled the media scrutiny well. He has, of course, made mistakes. He has never, though, looked like he didn’t belong.
The Giants aren’t surprised.
“The amount of film we watched on Daniel, the amount of background work we did on him, the interviewing of him, the personal contact time we had with him. All of that in one spot,” GM Dave Gettleman said. “All of the work that he’s done out here since his feet have hit the ground here, starting with rookie minicamp. You guys have seen rookie minicamps, and it doesn’t even resemble football. Well, our offense, it looked like football, the rookie minicamp.
“When you look at all of that stuff, and I look at the way he has handled you guys and the difficult questions you’ve asked, and the tough things he’s encountered since he got here. I look at all of that stuff and I know he’s got the talent. He’s got edge.”
Here is Gettleman’s answer when asked if he thought Jones could be great:
“I think he’s got tremendous upside. How’s that?”
There were questions about Jones’ arm strength prior to the draft. He hasn’t given any reason thus far to doubt that he can make every throw, and coach Pat Shurmur said earlier in camp that he hasn’t been surprised.
“No, because I’ve seen it and we knew he could do that,” Shurmur said. “We’ve seen him do it in our drill work. As people get to know him, and they recognize more the things he does … we expect that from him and we think he can do those things.”
What is Shurmur expecting to see from Jones Thursday agains the Jets?
“It’s the next real step in his process, so to speak. We’re looking forward to seeing him go out and execute,” Shurmur said. “We want him to play good football and execute well. I think that’s the important thing.”
Jones admitted to being “excited” to play, but as has been his pattern many of his answer =s about expectations were team-oriented.
“I think as a group on offense, I think we’ve had a good last couple weeks. I think as a unit, we’re ready for it,” Jones said of Thursday night. “So, like I said, it’ll be different, it’ll be different looks, it’ll be maybe a little faster, but I think we’re in a good spot as a group, and I feel prepared for Thursday night.”
“I think first and foremost it’s to score points, move the offense down the field and score points,” Jones said. “So, I think that’s always the goal, but in that, it’s executing consistently, keeping the ball moving forward, not hurting ourselves, and executing what we have on offense. So, doing that, taking care of the ball, I think all those things, but if we’re scoring points, if we’re moving the ball, I think we’ll feel good about what we did.”
After Jones hit Paul Perkins with a tremendous deep ball during a recent practice, Saquon Barkley lauded the young quarterback’s work.
“DJ, he’s a player. I know you guys saw that dime over there to Perk (Paul Perkins), who made an unbelievable catch, but you can see he’s getting a lot more comfortable, he’s understanding the offense a lot more,” Barkley said. “I’m excited to see him in live action.”
Giants fans should be, too.