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Daniel Jones-Jason Garrett relationship a key to Giants’ future

Will Garrett be the right offensive coordinator to maximize Jones’ potential?

Jason Garrett and Daniel Jones
Matthew Swensen/

If this version of the New York Giants is going to leave the team’s recent losing ways behind in the next couple of seasons, Daniel Jones is going to have to be the franchise-level quarterback the organization hoped he would become when it drafted him No. 6 overall a year ago.

Is Jason Garrett the right offensive coordinator to help him get there?

Pat Shurmur was, of course, the head coach and play caller when the Giants drafted Jones. One of the primary reasons Shurmur got hired in 2018 was that the Giants knew they would soon have to draft an Eli Manning heir, and Shurmur has a long history of successfully guiding a wide variety of quarterbacks.

Shurmur, though, is gone. He may work wonderfully with quarterbacks, but he spent two seasons showing that the biggest fear about him — that he wasn’t really a winning NFL head coach — was accurate.

Joe Judge is now, of course, the head coach. Judge will largely be responsible for, and have his future tied to, Jones’ development. Judge, though, “coaches it all” in the words of special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. The head coach won’t run the offense, call the plays or handle the daily quarterback drill work and classroom sessions.

That is on Garrett’s plate as he returns to being a full-time offensive coordinator for the first time since becoming Dallas Cowboys’ head coach midway through the 2010 season.

Will the Jones-Garrett marriage work?

Asked roughly two weeks ago about the developing relationship between Garrett and Jones, who obviously had not been able to work together in person until this training camp, Judge said “it’s still early” to see how that will evolve.

It is going to take time assess Garrett’s impact on Jones, perhaps as much as a full season or more. Two weeks into training camp, with the team just beginning to ramp up into 7-on-7 activity, not having held a padded practice and media not having witnessed a minute of camp, all we have to go on are the words we have heard from the quarterback and the coordinator.

Here’s Jones talking about Garrett recently, quite honestly giving us about as bland a comment as he possibly could:

“I have enjoyed learning from him so far,” Jones said. “He is extremely detailed in his thinking and what he expects on the field, and I think that is probably what has stood out the most. I look forward to working with him and continuing to learn this system.”

In an ideal world, of course, Jones wouldn’t be learning a new playbook in his second year in the league. He would be refining the first one he learned, getting better within the offensive scheme he was drafted to play in.

That’s not the case, though. Jones seems unfazed by learning a new playbook and adjusting to a scheme that could be both more run-heavy and more vertical in its passing elements than what Jones ran a year ago.

“I don’t think so,” said Jones when asked if having to learn a new offense put him at a disadvantage. “I think it’s on me to learn the system as quick as I can and as effectively as I can. Use the time we have, use the practices we have to do that and come in prepared and ready to go.”

Garrett, of course, was a quarterback. His NFL career began as a practice squad player with the New Orleans Saints in 1989 and ended in 2004 with the Miami Dolphins. He was a backup with the Giants from 2000-2003.

Garrett has been an offensive coordinator in Miami and Dallas. He worked with Tony Romo and oversaw the development of Dak Prescott in Dallas. It’s quite apparent that Garrett understands quarterback play.

“I did have the opportunity to play quarterback throughout my life, so there’s no question in my mind I feel like there can be a connection there and I can relate to these guys, hopefully in a very natural way that can help them get better,” Garrett said this week when he, for the first time, spoke to New York media.

Garrett won’t compare Jones at this stage to Prescott, Romo or anyone else.

“He clearly has ability. He’s someone who’s big, he’s strong, he’s athletic, he has a really good arm. He has all the tools you’re looking for,” Garrett said. “But the thing that really jumps out is the approach that he takes every day. Like I said, he’s a ball guy. He loves ball. He works very hard at it and he’s always trying to refine his skills. He’s always trying to gain more knowledge and find a way to become a better quarterback, individually and for our team. That’s what you get most excited about.”

Jones completed 26-of-41 for 210 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a start against the Cowboys last season, Garrett’s longest opportunity to see Jones play up close.

“Playing as a rookie in the NFL is a challenge. Playing quarterback as a rookie in the NFL is a real challenge,” Garrett said. “Daniel handled himself really, really well. Again, reflecting back on the reports and everything we knew about him coming out in the draft, it didn’t surprise us that much.”

Will the Jones-Garrett relationship end up being successful. Today, there is no way to know. The offensive coordinator, though, offered an optimistic thought.

“Since I’ve been here, he’s been a real joy to work with. There’s no question he is a football guy. He loves football. He’s always so prepared, he’s always studying his stuff, he always has great questions and wants to get better,” Garrett said. My experience has been, when you have that kind of approach and that kind of attitude, if you have some ability, you’re going to keep growing and getting better every day, and he’s certainly done that.”