There’s no way Daniel Jones can head into this offseason as if everything is business as usual. After all, he’s added two new qualifiers to his name. He’s the unquestioned franchise quarterback of the New York Giants, having agreed to a four-year, $160 million contract. And, he’s a playoff-wining quarterback.
So as enters his second year with head coach Brian Daboll, Jones can take advantage of the fact that he’s no longer in the beginning stages of learning to run Daboll’s offense.
“Last year at this time, you are trying to learn everything for the first time,” Jones said on Monday. “There’s a lot of information, a lot of early memorization, the basic information of the system and kind of learning the alphabet, learning the first step. This year, obviously, we’ve got a little bit of a jump start there, knowing the system, but you’re always learning and you’re always adapting, seeing what’s new, helping the newer guys learn. In some sense you start over again and you don’t want to overlook anything or skip any of those critical steps to start out.”
The offense hasn’t been shaken up too much. Jones and Saquon Barkley are back, though Barkley is sitting out voluntary workouts as he seeks a long-term contract, retaining the team’s core identity even among new additions like tight end Darren Waller. Still, Jones emphasized that Daboll wants the team to continue “adapting” and “evolving.”
“How it looks today will be different than how it looks a week from now and a week later and as we get through the off-season program,” Jones said. “We’re always adding stuff, taking things out and adjusting here and there and that’s the constant process. You’re always trying to learn and keep up and stay on top of it.”
Waller is definitely the biggest change on the team. Acquired from the Las Vegas Raiders in March for a third-round draft pick, he arguably brings the biggest pedigree of any Giants receiver in years. He’s missed some games with injury since posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020. The Giants were ranked 27th in receiving yards per game last year, and Waller is the biggest reason so far that could change.
“I think he’s a clear mismatch, someone the defense has to worry about how they are going to account for him, how they are going to cover him, who they are going to put on him and how they are going to play it,” Jones said. “I think that just adds an element to our attack and gives the defense something else to worry about when you have a guy that big and that strong who can move like he can and open up the field.”
Changes will also be coming to an offensive line that struggled to protect Jones last year, especially along the interior. Centers Jon Feliciano and Nick Gates are both gone. The Giants have yet to name a starting center for next year, and it’s likely that one isn’t on the roster yet. Regardless, Jones feels comfortable working with any potential options.
“It takes time in the film room, in classroom talking, getting on the same page with our pre-snap IDs and protections and in the run game, too,” Jones said. “Then time on the field in kind of a more game-like situation where you’re actually going through it and you’re communicating and working on the center, quarterback exchange and all those pieces there. It just takes time, and I’m excited for each of those guys who could be stepping in. We will put in the work and make sure we’re ready to go.”
Still, consistency is the overall theme in a way it hasn’t been lately in New York. Jones will get another year with offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, after the possibility of Kafka earning a head coaching job elsewhere. Quarterbacks Shea Tierney is also back. Jones set a career high in passing yards last year with that coaching staff.
“Yeah, I think that’s huge both those guys coming back, and for all of us, being in this system for a second year and being able to kind of take the next step in a lot of things we’ve done,” Jones said. “You know we won’t look past anything or try to skip steps but just knowing where we are and continuing to learn, continuing to evolve with the same foundation and a lot of the same people in place. It definitely gives us a little bit of a head start.”