Daniel Jones is off to a good start this season. He is the NFL's 6th ranked QB in PFF's grading:
The full story is behind the paywall but the chart with this information is not. The chart shows that he achieved this rank despite an expected points added per play (EPA) that was only average (suggesting that some combination of play calling, field position, down and distance were not optimal for success). In week 2 vs. WFT, in particular, Jones received a PFF score of 91.3, his highest ever, and was declared the PFF Offensive Player of the Week:
PFF said, "Daniel Jones did everything he could to lead them to victory. He led all quarterbacks in Week 2 in total completions on passes thrown 10 or more yards downfield with 11, and even that could have been more, as two more of his downfield throws were dropped. The third-year quarterback also led the position in positively graded throws and recorded the week's lowest negatively graded throw rate, an impressive feat, given that he was under pressure on 44.7% of his dropbacks. Jones didn’t let pressure disrupt the timing of the offense, standing tall in the pocket and delivering accurate throws. He also showed off the impact he can make in the running game with three runs of 10-plus yards, tying Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts for the most of the week."
Yet the Giants lost and are now 0-2.
Certainly the defense takes a lot of the blame for that loss. Jones and the Giants' offense did put 29 points on the board, which is enough to win many games. But were there also things that PFF did not see that a different set of eyes would see?
Former Giants QB (briefly) and HOFer Kurt Warner is now producing a series of film studies called QB Confidential, and he analyzed the Giants' loss to WFT in his most recent one:
Details.— QBConfidential (@QBConfidential) September 20, 2021
The difference between a tick in the win column or the loss column.
For the @Giants last week, it was the latter.
In this episode of #Studyball, we recap what could’ve been done by Daniel Jones and the Giants to win their first game of 2021. ⬇️https://t.co/3IAXCNaAwA
Warner is very critical of Jason Garrett's play concepts, particularly the way he fails to space receivers' routes over the whole field to make sure that there are multiple open options with single coverage as often as possible. He also calls out a WR (Slayton, I think) for not adjusting his route to find space in the middle of the field in one instance.
But he has criticism for Daniel Jones too, specifically his hesitation on certain plays and his failure to "throw receivers open" on others. A few examples (start times in the video in parentheses):
(5:05) Jones to Golladay on a post route, broken up by the DB because Jones does not lead Golladay enough. He thinks this could have been a TD.
(6:25) Jones tries Golladay on a go route even though he didn't get a clean release when he could have had an easy completion in the flat on the other side.
(9:42) Jones hitches then throws short and behind Sterling Shepard. Pass is completed for a few yards but if he hits him on time and in stride it's a big gainer, maybe even a TD.
(10:55) The infamous missed TD catch by Slayton. Warner blames Jones for this, says he should have laid the ball out a few yards shorter to let Slayton run under it since the CB had been beaten and the safety had vacated the deep field.
(14:15) Jones vacates the pocket when he doesn't have to and misses a chance to hit an open Slayton.
(15:25) I think this is the 3rd down miss to Shepard after the Bradberry INT and the 2 running plays that necessitated the FG and 2-point lead that gave WFT the chance to drive down for the winning FG. Warner claims that Jones rushed this pass and that if he hadn't, Shepard would have gotten the first down. Not sure I agree with this one - I see LB Jon Bostic (53) moving right as Jones releases the pass, not obvious to me that he get the pass through if he waits another split-second.
It seems to me that PFF did not see these plays the same way, since they gave Jones a 91.3 grade for the game. PFF claims to take into account the timing of each throw and the QB read in assigning a score on each pass play (https://www.pff.com/news/pro-how-pff-grades-quarterback-play):
"The system accounts for the timing and difficulty of the throw, while also gauging the decision-making with respect to the quarterback’s progression on a given play."
But perhaps an NFL QB sees things that techies do not. I don't know. In any case, these examples from Warner show the ways that Jones needs to get better. The fact is that he still put 29 points on the board. Imagine what might be possible if he can correct these deficiencies. We'd have to stop calling him Danny Dimes and start calling him Danny Dollars instead.
Receiving surprisingly little attention this week is the question, "Where the hell is Kadarius Toney in this offense?" We know he had 19 snaps last Sunday after having only 5 in the opener, but he was not targeted on any of those 19 snaps. What was he doing on those 19 snaps?
I don't have an answer. But Bobby Skinner tells us a little bit. He was in on 9 running plays, 2 RPOs to Golladay, ran 5 curl routes (ARGGGH!!!) where he was not part of the progression, and 2 crossing routes with a drag underneath. Skinner shows us one of the 19 plays. This is actually a nice play design, with Golladay and Rudolph going deep and clearing out the right and left boundaries, Shepard crossing about 15 yards downfield, and Toney crossing shallow, about 5 yards past the LOS. Both are open, Jones could have passed to Toney, but he correctly hits Shepard for a 19-yard gain:
Breaking down the Giants using Kadarius Toney effectively!— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) September 21, 2021
One time…. pic.twitter.com/e1mKRz3pgb
With Toney's speed, it's not obvious that he couldn't have gotten as much yardage on that play. But the DB put into conflict by the high-low routes chooses to crash down on Toney and so the pass to Shepard is the right call. Let's see more of these kinds of routes Sunday, and hopefully KT will get his first few meaningful receptions. This is how Toney should be used, scrap the "gadget play" narrative!