Daniel Jones is the best quarterback in the NFL at throwing the deep ball, per data released recently by Next Gen Stats.
NFL.com’s Nick Shook took a look at passer with at least 30 attempts of 20 air yards or more. Here are Jones’ downfield numbers:
- Deep attempts: 19-of-39, 636 yards, 5:0 TD-to-INT ratio, 134.3 passer rating
- Comp: 48.7%
- xComp: 33.9%
- CPOE (Completion percentage over expectation): +14.8%
Here is what Shook wrote about Jones’ performance:
Giants fans looking for proof that Jones can become the franchise QB he was drafted to be are getting a generous helping with this choice. Sure, it's a surprise to everyone to see him No. 1, but the numbers don't lie. Jones went deep just 39 times but was very effective when doing so, and his year-to-year improvement is incredibly encouraging. After posting a CPOE of -4.9 percent in 2019, Jones took a massive leap in 2020 to +14.8 percent, an improvement of +19.7 percentage points, the largest in the entire league from 2019 to 2020. It seems head coach Joe Judge's arrival did more than just turn the Giants into a scrappy bunch -- it also elevated Jones' effectiveness downfield. His passer rating on deep throws was the highest in the league at 134.3, and his completion percentage on such attempts (48.7) was the fourth-highest mark. Jones still has to prove he has what it takes to help the team be a consistent winner, but if he remains on this trajectory, we might not be spending much more of our future days debating his viability.
Two things jump out here — how good Jones was at throwing the ball down the field last season, and how little the Giants actually leaned into that strength.
Jones’ 39 attempts of at least 20 air yards is the fewest of any quarterback on Shook’s list. Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns had 47. The other eight quarterbacks on the list had 52 or more downfield throws.
The Giants ended 2020 with only 36 passing plays of 20 yards or more, 31st in the league.
This is why it was encouraging that the Giants so aggressively added to their receiving corps.
The addition of wide receiver Kenny Golladay is the key acquisition in the effort to get the ball down the field. Since 2018, Golladay’s contested catch rate of 63 percent is second in the NFL to Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints, per Pro Football Focus.
Golladay’s Average Depth of Target (aDOT) of 14.6 yards in each of the past two seasons is far more than any Giants receiver is 2020. Darius Slayton had an aDOT of 12.6, Sterling Shepard was at 8.3 and Evan Engram 6.9. John Ross, the speedster signed from the Cincinnati Bengals had an aDOT of 15.6 in 2019, his best season. He caught 28 passes that year.
First-round pick Kadarius Toney isn’t necessarily a vertical receiver. He had an aDOT of just 7.68 yards last season. He averaged 6.81 yards after catch in 2020.
The Giants will also need improved pass protection from their young offensive line. Only the Philadelphia Eagles (65) surrendered more sacks than the Giants (50) in 2020.
Given all of that, it’s readily apparent that Jones’ ability to get the ball downfield accurately is something the Giants need to take better advantage of in 2021.