The New York Giants have a monumental decision to make over the course of the 2022 season. They need to decide whether Daniel Jones is their Franchise Quarterback or not.
Not only will this decision likely carry a price tag of $30 million or more (per year), it will figure heavily into the futures of GM Joe Schoen, Head Coach Brian Daboll, and Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka.
If they get this decision right, they could go down in Giants’ history has heroes. If they get it wrong, they’ll still go down in Giants’ history, but they’ll go down as flops like Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur.
Schoen, Daboll, and Kafka only just got to New York, and while they bring an outsider’s perspective, they don’t really know Jones all that well.
Lance Meadow and Brad Hopkins, however, spoke to someone who knows Jones a bit better on their Sirius XM NFL Radio show. Monday, the two interviewed former Giants tight ends coach, special offensive assistant, and interim offensive coordinator, Freddie Kitchens.
Kitchens has since been hired by the University of South Carolina as an offensive assistant, but he does know Jones better than most after coaching the Giants’ offense in 2020 and 2021.
One of the biggest issues regarding the evaluation of Jones has been his struggles in staying on the field. He has suffered a significant injury in each of the last four seasons (dating back to his final year at Duke), usually linked to his willingness to take risks with his body.
“I think Daniel began to understand that [the importance of staying healthy],” Kitchens said. “It was just an unfortunate deal, but I do think Daniel’s grown a lot from that aspect of things and understands that he kinda carries the team on his back as far as their future because he wouldn’t be starting unless he was the best chance to win. He’s started to understand that better.”
“I think early on you’re out there for the team” he added, “you want to do what’s best for the team and all those sorts of things and you kinda get carried away at times, but he’s gotten a better grasp of that I think and I know he has moving forward.”
“With Daniel’s legs, his legs are a tremendous attribute and I think moving forward just staying a little more safe with him would be beneficial and I think he’s learned that. I think you’ll see the best of Daniel Jones from that aspect. Make no mistake about it, Daniel Jones’ legs are definitely a weapon.”
The questions around Jones have also been compounded by injuries around the rest of the offense. Not only has the Giants’ collection of skill position players struggled to stay on the field, but the team has had to field a rotating cast of offensive linemen. Kitchens called the offensive line the “most critical position group” in all of football.
Questions about Jones’ health, and the health of players around him, aside, there’s really only one question that matters for 2022: “Is Daniel Jones The Guy for the Giants?” At the end of the day, the only person who can answer that question is Jones and the only opinions that matter are those of Brian Daboll, Joe Schoen, and John Mara.
When asked what the Giants would need to see from Jones to give him that coveted second contract, Kitchens said, “I don’t know that there’s any quantitative measures that you can put on it. I think Mr. Mara has a great idea of what he’s got in Daniel Jones and he wants to see it on the field and I would just leave that at that.”
He added, “I think Mr. Mara does a great job of knowing the guys that are on the roster, knowing who he’s got.”
“I know the new management there has done a tremendous job. Brian’s going to do a helluva job coaching ’em, so I think they’ve got the best situation that Daniel’s had in quite some time to get the best out of him. If the best that he can give them is what they want to see then of course they’ll give him the contract. If not, they’ll move on. It’s as simple as that.”
And that’s really it.
With a potential $30 million investment and the near-term future of the franchise on the line, there isn’t any room to move goalposts nor offer excuses. Either Jones proves his mettle this season or he doesn’t and the new regime will go looking for their guy.