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Daniel Jones, Giants making the case for vertical throws

Let Jones be Jones, and the Giants will be better for it

NFL: New York Giants at Washington Football Team Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants lost a football game Thursday night in heart-breaking fashion. Rather than improve to 1-1 with a road win over a division rival — and send them to the dreaded 0-2 start in the process — the Giants now find themselves alone in last place in the NFC East, staring up at three 1-1 teams.

But, dare we say the offense is actually close to being good?

There is a case to be made, and it rests on a foundation of the vertical passing game. Longtime followers of these pieces over the past year or so are probably familiar with the argument: Jones is at his best in the downfield passing game, so the Giants should lean into that ideal.

The numbers, and the film, support this conclusion. Last year, Jones was one of the more proficient passers in the league on throws of 20 yards or more. According to charting data from Pro Football Focus, Jones ranked eighth in the league in Adjusted Completion Percentage (ACP) on such throws, and had a touchdown/interception ratio of six to zero on those attempts.

That trend continues into 2021. Jones currently ranks sixth in ACP, and has thrown a touchdown, without an interception, on those targets.

Of course, a big incompletion also came on one such attempt.

But let’s dive into his game against Washington with a heavy emphasis on throws deeper downfield, looking at his anticipation, his ability to move defenders, his aggression, how he read these concepts well and yes, the failed shot play to Darius Slayton:

Now, as we discuss in the video there might have been some hesitation coming into this game to focus on the vertical parts of the playbook. Short week, tough defensive front, and you entered the game having shuffled the offensive line and then you lose Nick Gates early. But this performance might make one rethink that approach.

So yes, the Giants are 0-2. But if you want, there is a case to be made that the offense might be closer than you think.