I find what has happened since Daniel Jones’ brilliant 402-yard performance in Sunday’s overtime victory by the New York Giants over the New Orleans Saints to be nothing short of hilarious.
For more than two years, the darts have been slung at Jones and the GM who drafted him.
- It’s a joke that Dave Gettleman picked this guy No. 6 overall. He’s a third-round talent, and he’s from DUKE, for crying out loud.
- He’s a fumble waiting to happen.
- He has the processing speed of a 1990 desktop computer.
- The most notable thing he ever did was fall on his face with the end zone closer than any single defender.
- He’s more boring than Eli Manning ever was, and not nearly as talented.
Well, a funny thing happened after Jones’ virtuoso performance against the Saints. All of a sudden, many of those same people are tripping over themselves and gushing excitedly about how Gettleman might have been right and Jones really is becoming — gasp! — A FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK!
Here are some of the headlines:
‘Giants laud ‘special’ QB Jones after comeback win’
‘Daniel Jones is the real deal: Giants shock Saints in 27-21 win, and they have their QB to thank | 5 observations’
‘It’s time to start realizing Jones is Giants’ franchise QB’
‘Ready or not, here comes Daniel Jones | amNewYork’
‘Daniel Jones showing he could be the answer for Giants’
‘Cold-blooded Daniel Jones has finally come of age’
If you have been paying attention, though, and not stuck in the ‘Jones is terrible and Gettleman’s an idiot for selecting him’ narrative, Sunday’s career-best game has been brewing for a while.
Go back to last season, and there were signs of growth before his Week 12 hamstring injury against the Cincinnati Bengals. In Week 11 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles he played perhaps his best game of the year, going 21 of 28 for 244 yards and no turnovers.
This season, Jones has played well. He was so-so in the opener vs. the Denver Broncos, but in my view was really good against Washington and Atlanta. He just didn’t end up with the huge stats, or the victories, to show for it.
Sunday against New Orleans, he got both. He also delivered 17 points over the Giants’ final three possessions, engineering a comeback from 11 points down with seven minutes to play. He did what franchise quarterbacks are expected to do — deliver when it mattered most.
And, suddenly everyone is in love with him. Suddenly, it seems everyone wants to anoint him something most have spent more than two years telling us he could never be — A FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK.
Like I said, hilarious.
Jones is second in the league in passing grade, per Pro Football Focus. His 98.3 passer rating after four games is an 18-point jump from last season’s 80.4. He is doing things leaders do, like bringing him team back for a comeback victory and running over mammoth defensive linemen for two-point conversions.
Is he a franchise quarterback? I’m not going to go all ga-ga and proclaim such just yet. I will say I don’t think quarterback is currently a problem for the New York Giants.
Mostly, though, I’m just enjoying watching everyone who bashed Jones for two-plus years trip all over themselves trying to get on the “hey, Daniel Jones might be good now” bandwagon.
The New York Giants have a roughly league average offensive line. Football Outsiders has the Giants No. 11 in Adjusted Sack Rate and No. 29 in Adjusted Line Yards (run blocking). Pro Football Focus has the Giants 13th in pass blocking efficiency, 17th in overall pass blocking grade and 20th in overall run blocking grade.
Considering the doomsday expectations from those outside the Giants organization, I think every Giants fan would have signed up for that kind of performance when training camp began.
Considering the circumstances, I think it’s downright incredible.
Two valued backups, Zach Fulton and Joe Looney retired. Two starters, center and captain Nick Gates and left guard Shane Lemieux, are lost for the year. Expected starting right tackle Matt Peart lost that job before the season even began. The Giants have used two starting centers and FOUR starting left guards.
The run blocking has been spotty, but all-in-all the offensive line has played admirably.
Either these players are better than many thought they were, or Rob Sale is some kind of offensive line guru.
I think, in reality, it’s both.
Sale, along with Pat Flaherty, Ben Wilkerson and Freddie Kitchens, has obviously done a terrific job. Sale said back in training camp that he likes to simplify things, with a handful of repeatable drills to hone skills. Whatever he’s doing, it’s working. Despite the constant changes, the line has for the most part gotten the job done.
“These guys work really (well) in the meetings in terms of going through the install, reviewing opponent tape, talking continuously throughout it making sure we’re on the same page from a communication standpoint. At practice, we get great work against our defensive front – whether it’s simulating the opponents’ rushes or just going competitive good versus good work,” said head coach Joe Judge. “So, we go into every game very well prepared from that standpoint there.”
Maybe, just maybe, the general manager deserves a touch of credit, too. Many snickered at the Giants’ confidence in the young starters they had planned to go with. They might have been right. We will never know for sure. They wondered, perhaps correctly why Gettleman didn’t supplement the line with at least a mid-round draft pick.
They wondered when Gettleman would make real moves to add depth after the training camp injuries and retirements.
When the Giants finally did move, trades brought center Billy Price and guard Ben Bredeson. The Giants pounced when former Baltimore Ravens starting interior offensive lineman Matt Skura became a free agent, adding him to their practice squad.
All three of those moves have thus far paid dividends.
The biggest difference, though, has been Andrew Thomas. A while ago, I wrote that the 2020 No. 4 overall pick was the single player who could absolutely change the narrative about the Giants’ offensive line.
To this point, he is doing exactly that. One of the worst tackles in football as a rookie last season, he has been one of the best thus far this season. Through four games and 182 pass blocking snaps, he has surrendered just six pressures and no sacks.
Thomas, like Jones in a way, is showing why you can’t rush to make a definitive judgment about a young player.
Could Gettleman and the Giants end up being right about both Jones and Thomas? We need more evidence to be sure, but that just might be the case.
Just enjoy this from Brian Baldinger:
.@Giants @allforgod_55 looked like a true Franchise Left Tackle yesterday and not surprising the #Giants played their best game under Father Joe Judge. They put it all together in front of #WhoDat #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/i2AFYy7N8j— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) October 4, 2021
Sticking with the process
I honestly get tired of hearing Judge talk about improvement, the process, and taking the steps needed to get where he wants the Giants to go. All of that can be hard to swallow when that improvement doesn’t show up on the field, when the losses mount and the process seems to have you pinning your wheels right in the same stuck in the mud place the Giants have been for most of the last decade.
It was interesting to hear Judge on Sunday call results “deceiving.”
“I am a believer in the process. I do not believe looking at the results should justify what you do. I am a believer that coming back to work every week and knowing what it takes to be successful and sticking to that plan, but also not abandoning it when you do not get the result,” he said. “We look at if we completed the process correctly because that puts us in position for results. Results are the most deceiving thing in the history of mankind. If you keep focus on what’s away from you and forget about the steps you need to take on the way there (to success), you’ll never get to where you want to be.”
Judge explained it another way on Monday.
“Sometimes, the worst thing that can happen to you is doing something the wrong way and having success. You’ve got to be willing to understand what the correct steps are you have to follow, what the true process is for you to be successful and stay committed to following that. Sometimes, you have success and it’s in spite of something you did wrong, and you can’t mistake that for the way to do it,” he said. “Sometimes you fail, and you have to go back and reexamine the process of what you did in the steps along the way – and you can’t abandon that. You’ve got to make sure that you stick it and do it the right way. To me, I just don’t believe in being results oriented. Obviously, the focus is to have success, which are the results, but that comes from doing all the steps along the way to be successful.”
I think that resonated with me. I’m an avid golfer. Avid, not good. I can go out and shoot a round of between 45 and 50 for 9 holes, and that will include some really good shots that do exactly what I want them to do. Other days, the scorecard looks a lot worse and the good shots are few and far between.
I practice and play a fair amount. I think I know what I’m doing on the golf course. Thing is, I can’t really tell you the why or the how of the good shots, and sometimes of the bad ones. If I could do that, I think I would get better and more consistent results.
I think that’s what Judge is driving at. If you get rewarded for a bad habit, you won’t necessarily correct it.
About this Sunday
The Giants made some huge defensive stops against the Saints. I think, though, that if the Giants play defense the way they did against New Orleans (0 sacks or quarterback hits, an utterly absurd 15 missed tackles) it isn’t going to matter how good Daniel Jones is. Dallas will put up 40+ points and the Giants won’t be able to keep up.
Incidentally, Giants-Cowboys in Week 5 is a pivotal game in figuring out whether there is going to be a race in the NFC East. Here are the standings:
Dallas Cowboys 3-1
Washington Football Team 2-2
Philadelphia Eagles 1-3
If the Giants can pull off an upset in Arlington, they would stunningly be a game out of first place. If they lose, the Cowboys are 4-1 and in a position to control the division.