Recently our fearless leader sent me an e-mail.
That might not be the best hook to start a story, but work with me for a moment. It is rare that Ed’s name pops up in my inbox. Usually we communicate via Slack, messages of the “um, you promised me a film piece on Daniel Jones a few weeks ago and, well...” variety. Let’s face it, I can be a bit of an absent-minded writer at times. I’ll blame it on the new kittens at home.
But on this day Ed was in my e-mail, forwarding something he had received from a reader of Big Blue View. An impressive, division-by-division breakdown of how Jones stacks up against each quarterback in the league. The analysis was purely based on their play, and did not take into account their various contractual situations.
“I think there’s a piece here,” was the message from our leader.
The reader, Chris Hynes, did a tremendous job putting the tables together by division, and the idea was that I would work up an “agree/disagree” piece going through Chris’ rankings.
Now, there is a Wally Pipp joke in here somewhere, but I’m not going to make it...
Let’s dive in.
Jones vs. NFC South
|Atlanta Falcons||Matt Ryan||Matt Ryan|
|Carolina Panthers||Teddy Bridgewater||Teddy Bridgewater|
|New Orleans Saints||Drew Brees||Drew Brees|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Tom Brady||Tom Brady|
In all, it is hard to quibble with these determinations. One might point to the idea that Teddy Bridgewater is a better quarterback than Jones and question that decision, but remember that Bridgewater is going to be playing in a very familiar offensive system in 2020. Joe Brady, the new Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator, spent time in New Orleans and much of his passing game is cribbed from Sean Payton’s schematic designs. The fit should be good between coach and quarterback in Carolina.
Jones vs. NFC North
|Chicago Bears||Mitch Trubisky/ Nick Foles||Daniel Jones|
|Detroit Lions||Matt Stafford||Daniel Jones (due to injury concerns)|
|Green Bay Packers||Aaron Rodgers||Aaron Rodgers|
|Minnesota Vikings||Kirk Cousins||Kirk Cousins|
Again, no real shockers here. While Aaron Rodgers might have seen some regression in statistical categories over the past few seasons, he remains one of the most talented quarterbacks in the game. Kirk Cousins does not get the attention he deserves, especially given his success in some advanced passing metrics as he enjoyed in 2019. Yes, he will be without Kevin Stefanski in 2020, but Gary Kubiak is going to install a very similar offensive system. Then there is what the Chicago Bears are putting together at quarterback, and I can agree with the ranking of Jones ahead of that quarterback room. If/when the job becomes Nick Foles’ full-time, we can perhaps revisit.
Then there is the Matthew Stafford question. When healthy Stafford is a quarterback with elite-level traits, and before he was put on the shelf last season he was playing at a high level. After his injury, the Detroit Lions averaged a touchdown less per game as an offense. Yes, the injuries are a concern, but for now I would still have Stafford above Jones. But the argument over availability is a strong one.
Jones vs. NFC West
|Arizona Cardinals||Kyler Murray||Kyler Murray|
|Los Angeles Rams||Jared Goff||Jared Goff|
|San Francisco 49ers||Jimmy Garoppolo||Daniel Jones|
|Seattle Seahawks||Russell Wilson||Russell Wilson|
There are two easy ones: Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray. Wilson is one of the elite quarterbacks in the game today, even if he is handcuffed at times by the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive system. He can beat you from the pocket or outside of it, and continually raises the level of play in those around him.
While just a rookie, Murray is also in a very good position to have success going forward. Kliff Kingsbury has installed a creative offensive system and he will have some tremendous weapons around him this season with Christian Kirk, DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Kenyan Drake.
Those are the easy two.
I can see someone making an argument for Jones over Jared Goff, and it would be constructed like so: “We know what Goff is at this point. A quarterback who needs help schematically and from those around him, as well as from his coaches. We can categorize him as the proverbial ‘quarterback you win with.’ Since Jones is still developing, we can bet on the future.”
But like Chris, I’m not ready to go there. Yet.
Then there is Garoppolo.
The same potential argument mentioned above with respect to Goff is certainly applicable here: Garoppolo is that same type of quarterback. I am betting that Chris views the 49ers passer in that regard, and as such has made a forward-thinking decision. I understand the sentiment, but cannot go there with Jones over Garoppolo. It is not because of “QB winz” or the fact that the 49ers are coming off a Super Bowl appearance, but it is due to the areas where Garoppolo does excel, mainly his pocket movement and his quick release. Those - particularly the pocket movement and management - are still question marks for Jones.
But I get it, Chris.
Saving the NFC East for last, we can move to the AFC now.
Jones vs. AFC East
|Buffalo Bills||Josh Allen||Josh Allen|
|Miami Dolphins||Ryan Fitzpatrick/ Tua Tagovailoa||Ryan Fitzpatrick/ Tua Tagovailoa|
|New England Patriots||Cam Newton/ Jarrett Stidham||Daniel Jones|
|New York Jets||Sam Darnold||Sam Darnold (slight edge)|
If we wanted to get some easy clicks on this article, we could move Jones above Josh Allen, lob it over to #BillsTwitter, and let the hate-clicks flow. But despite the fact the Bills young passer remains a lightning rod, I would concur that at this point, he ranks above Jones.
I also understand the Sam Darnold ranking, although previously on Big Blue View I made the case for Jones above the Jets’ rookie, given that we know more about Darnold right now than we do Jones. That is certainly a close one. As is the ranking of the two Miami Dolphins passers above Jones. Potential-wise, Tagovailoa certainly is fascinating, but there is an injury history.
The New England Patriots one is also interesting. If this were straight Jarrett Stidham vs. Jones, I could understand having Jones outranking the Patriots passer. But when you add Cam Newton, a former MVP into the mix, it is harder to go there.
(This is where you insert the cries of homerism).
Jones vs. AFC North
|Baltimore Ravens||Lamar Jackson||Lamar Jackson|
|Cincinnnati Bengals||Joe Burrow||Daniel Jones (slight edge)|
|Cleveland Browns||Baker Mayfield||Baker Mayfield|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Ben Roethlisberger||Ben Roethlisberger|
Nothing really jumps out here. Having Joe Burrow slightly behind Jones makes sense, as the rookie is going to be facing a steeper-than-normal learning curve coming into the league given the global pandemic.
Baker Mayfield above Jones is also interesting. Let’s put it this way: Mayfield is in a position to have a great deal of success this year under Stefanski. The new Cleveland Browns head coach brings an offensive system that is suited to what Mayfield does best: Throwing outside of the pocket on play-action. While Mayfield struggled from the pocket last year - including clean pockets - no passer saw a bigger jump when using play-action. His completion percentage jumped more than 10 percent on play-action throws as opposed to traditional drop backs. If Mayfield cannot take a big step forward in 2020 in this situation...
Jones vs. AFC South
|Houston Texans||Deshaun Watson||Deshaun Watson|
|Indianapolis Colts||Philip Ruvers||Philip Rivers|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Gardner Minshew||Daniel Jones|
|Tennessee Titans||Ryan Tannehill||Ryan Tannehill|
Nothing really to see here, a group of logical decisions. Unless we are ranking quarterback on their swag, because...
Jones vs. AFC West
|Denver Broncos||Drew Lock||Drew Lock (slight edge)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Patrick Mahomes||Patrick Mahomes|
|Las Vegas Raiders||Derek Carr||Derek Carr|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Tyrod Taylor/ Justin Herbert||Daniel Jones|
Again some relatively easy choices in this division. We do not need to dwell on Patrick Mahomes too long, and Derek Carr - despite some advanced metrics hating him - is a perfect fit for Jon Gruden’s offense.
Drew Lock over Jones is an interesting debate, and in the end I agree with Chris on this one. Lock has the edge given the weapons the Denver Broncos are putting in place around him.
Then there is the Los Angeles Chargers’ situation. Regardless of whether the organization rolls with the rookie or sticks with the veteran, Jones would be considered to have the edge on either passer.
Finally, the NFC East as told by Chris.
Jones vs. NFC East
|Dallas Cowboys||Dak Prescott||Dak Prescott|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Carson Wentz||Carson Wentz|
|Washington||Dwayne Haskins||Daniel Jones|
The one to focus upon is Washington. In the end, I think Chris is spot-on with this. When you look at the situations surrounding both second-year passers, Jones is in a much more favorable spot than Dwayne Haskins. Jones has better weapons around him, and performed better on the field than Haskins did in his limited action.
In all, great work from Chris. Now I await word of my eventual benching...