Nothing about 2020 has been easy so far, so perhaps it’s fitting that the New York Giants have their work cut out for them with the start the regular season. While the Pittsburgh Steelers finished with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs last year, that is not indicative of the team the Giants will face on Monday night. The Steelers boast one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the NFL in Ben Roethlisberger, a diverse set of offensive weapons, a stout offensive line, and one of the very best defenses in the entire league.
But for all that, second-year quarterback and newly-minted team captain Daniel Jones is confident.
“I feel prepared, our team feels prepared,” Jones said. “I’m certainly excited and looking forward to it. There’s a level of anticipation waiting for that game to come, but I feel prepared. I think we’re in a good spot as a team and as an offense. I feel comfortable going into Week 1. We’re all excited to get back out there.”
Jones will enter his second season as the Giants’ starting quarterback and was voted one of the offensive captains, fully moving into the shoes of Eli Manning. Being voted a team captain is a vote of confidence in Jones from his teammates — Manning didn’t become a captain until 2007, his fourth season. Jones knows the gravity of his new position and he wants to rise to the occasion.
“Being voted by your teammates is a tremendous honor. It’s something I don’t take lightly at all and I appreciate the responsibility that the position comes with and what it means,” Jones said. “I’m certainly grateful to be in this position to be elected. Like I said, it’s a serious job. It’s something that I don’t think you can take lightly. You have a responsibility to your teammates and to your team to represent them and do what you can to be their voice and lead.”
The role of quarterback and captain is a curious one in the NFL, and sports in general.
Not only does it fall on Jones to be a leader on the field and in the locker room, but his job is also to now be a bridge between the players and the coaching staff. All the players need a relationship with their coaches, but the relationship between head coach might be the most important in all of team sports. Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, Joe Montana and Bill Walsh, Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin, the relationship between coach and quarterback can be the bedrock that sustained success is built upon.
While it is certainly about as new as it gets, Jones believes that he and Joe Judge are building a solid relationship.
“I certainly feel like I have a good relationship with Coach,” Jones said. “I’ve enjoyed working with him and learning from him through camp and into this season. Like we’ve talked about a lot, he’s a very detailed coach. He’s clear. The way he communicates, the way he says what he wants is very clear and purposeful, and you can feel that. Guys respond to that. As far as him and I’s personal relationship, we have a good one. Like I said, I’ve enjoyed working with him.”
Both coach and player need a good understanding of what the other is thinking and feeling at any time. The basis of that is communication, the two talking to each other openly and honestly. That communication can be hard to come by, but it’s a necessary step in building the relationship — and trust — the whole team needs.
“Everyone responds to communication in different ways,” Jones said. “I think it depends on the guy and the situation. There are times where maybe that’s appropriate, but I feel like most of the time, I find it most effective to communicate clearly and make sure that we’re on the same page. I’m comfortable doing that if I need to, but I think each of those situations need to be handled differently. I try to do that the best I can.”