New York Giants rookie quarterback and apparent heir to the franchise Daniel Jones had an interesting start to his first training camp on Thursday. With all eyes watching his first throws as, officially, the current QB2, Jones put on a show Thursday – depending on how you see it.
Where the Giants presented one perspective:
Others were less generous with their angles:
He started his session 0-for-6, highlighted by a pretty deep throw that was promptly dropped by Bennie Fowler. But Jones completing six of his last eight passes to finish his 11-on-11 drill – a few short dumps to Paul Perkins, and the other his signature deep ball to Brittan Golden on the sideline.
Jones’ selection by the Giants as the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft has come with more scrutiny and criticism than any other draft pick in 2019. Jones faces a lot more pressure to succeed and bring the demanding Giants fanbase wins immediately compared to, say, one of his rookie quarterback counterparts, Kyler Murray.
But the big question remains unanswered thus far, despite just about everyone believing they have an immediate answer: can Jones actually succeed as the quarterback for the New York Giants? And is he ready to survive the constant and sometimes unfair criticism he will get once his moment comes?
Despite his rough, early start to training camp (and, for that matter, the start to his NFL life), we have to give Jones a chance to prove himself. Jones’ potential, or the oft-mentioned lack thereof, has been immediately judged worse between that mentioned drop and the poor throws to open 11-on-11 drills, from as far back as draft night and even before that.
But, and this will come as a shock to all the armchair GMs, what if Jones could actually be, well, good?
His numbers from his senior season don’t tell his whole story, nor do his bad games. In ways, he’s very similar to Eli Manning on the field. Whether he embodies his best or worst qualities remains to be seen. In his last season at Duke, he suffered from poor receiver play and even poorer line play. He faced pressure almost immediately after the snap but still threw the ball for short completions. And, like Manning, he took a lot of big shots.
With time in the pocket, a rarity at Duke, Jones showed the ability to manipulate safeties and linebackers to create openings for his receivers. At the same time, he also had moments where he made bad decisions – again, kind of like how Manning can.
Unlike Manning, and what makes him a fit for this Giants offense, is his ability to throw on the run. Head coach Pat Shurmur likes to use the short bootleg and Jones can throw with velocity and accuracy on the run toward the sideline. Jones doesn’t look fast but has long strides which make him faster than he seems and he escaped pressure better than he got credit for at Duke.
When you look at the overall product, the similarities between Jones and Manning are there. Former Giants quarterback Kurt Warner, who spent a half-season as the starter before Eli took over in the second half of the season, saw similarities between the two and addressed it on Giants.com.
“He’s so much like Eli,” Warner said.
“It’s amazing. Even some of the phrases he uses remind you of Eli (Manning). You talk about what you see on film and some of their mannerisms as players, but it’s crazy. You hear them talk and it’s like ‘Oh my gosh!’ These guys are like the same guy, it’s just Eli 15 years younger. It is fascinating. But again, not a bad guy to model yourself after, from a lot of different standpoints.”
Whether you want to believe it or not, Jones will take over as the face of the Giants franchise at some point either this year or next year. Every snap Jones takes during the preseason will be scrutinized and criticized as much as any Manning throw during the games that matter. He seems to have the support of his teammates, who have had nothing but positive things to say about the rookie heir to the throne since mini-camp. Entering training camp, even his head coach had nothing but praise.
“In my mind, he has exceeded expectations,” Shurmur said after Wednesday’s practice with just the rookies and select vets.
The expectations are expected to grow even greater come September, and grow even larger once he steps on the field for his first NFL snap.
But be ready. The Daniel Jones era is coming soon to an NFL stadium near you.