Call an NFL quarterback a “game manager” and you are really insulting his ability. You’re really saying his job isn’t to win games, rather to simply try not to lose them.
When it comes to Daniel Jones and the New York Giants, too often throughout the first eight games of the season mistakes by the second-year quarterback cost the Giants opportunities to win games on several occasions.
So, after the Giants defeated Washington on Sunday with Jones playing his first turnover-free game of the season, averaging his highest yards gained per passing attempt (6.24) of the season and making several good decisions to throw the ball away, dump it short or take a sack to avoid a bad play the reaction has been, in my view, incomprehensible.
Jones and head coach Joe Judge have spent the week answering questions about whether or not Jones has suddenly become too cautious, about whether or not he is suddenly not playing the position aggressively enough.
So, Wednesday I asked Jones about the negative connotation of the phrase “game manager” and whether or not in reality managing a game is precisely what a quarterback’s job is all about.
“I’d agree with that. I think a big part of it is understanding when the opportunity is there, the ability to recognize that quickly, anticipate it and take it. A lot of times, that’s down the field or sometimes that’s just a quick decision where you’re letting the guy catch and run and giving him space with an accurate ball,’ Jones said. “Yeah, I think understanding when those opportunities are there, when it’s not there, when we call a play and we don’t get the look, and the ability to make a decision quickly and avoid a negative play, a sack or holding the ball, I think all of those situations maybe go into the game management category but are important skills as a quarterback. I think those are important to understand at the position, and I’m certainly working to improve week in and week out.”
Judge was asked on Wednesday if Jones wasn’t “making enough plays really aggressively.”
“I would disagree with that. I think he’s doing a lot of things aggressively. I think the way this guy stands in the pocket when the rush is collapsing on him at certain times or makes plays with his feet extending outside the pocket, the way he’s willing to pull the ball in some of the zone reads and run downfield and take a big hit. I see a lot of aggressiveness in Daniel, and I like the way he plays. The team rallies around him right there,” Judge said. “When it comes time to take our shots, we’ll take our shots offensively ... I think Daniel is a developing player. I think he’s shown a lot of promise, he’s making a lot of gains this year, he’s done a lot of really, really good things for us, and that he gives us a chance to be competitive within games. I see him improving on a weekly basis, and I love having that guy in the huddle right now being our signal-caller. I know the team around him does as well.”
Judge also disagreed with the notion that Jones was “tentative.”
“No, not at all. I think he has really done a good job of sitting back and dissecting the defense at times this year and finding the right receiver,” Judge said. “At the same time, when we go ahead and we put scheme-type plays out there to isolate a certain player, he’s done a good job as far as getting the ball distributed to those guys and make sure he gives them a chance to make a play with the ball in their hands.”
My only point here is that you can’t have it both ways. You can’t kill the young quarterback when he makes overly aggressive or over-zealous mistakes, then criticize him for being too cautious when he protects the football in a winning effort.
I simply don’t get the ‘is he too cautious?’ questions that have arisen this week.