The New York Giants have handed the keys to the offense to Daniel Jones, but the second-year quarterback might as well be starting 2020 with an oil leak and a faulty GPS that’s going to route him through every imaginable detour. The odds are stacked against him showing enough improvement to get the team back to .500 or better.
A new regime but old problems for the New York Giants
The New York Giants are starting fresh, again. Two years under Ben McAdoo followed by two with Pat Shurmur running the team left the franchise in disarray. Third-year general manager Dave Gettleman potentially doesn’t get a fourth year if new head coach Joe Judge can’t significantly improve upon last year’s 4-12 record.
To do it, the Giants are going to have to make strides on both sides of the ball — particularly on offense. Judge has brought in former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett to run the offense.
Garrett inherits quarterback Daniel Jones, who was both promising and frustrating as a rookie. Jones threw for 24 touchdowns after taking over from Eli Manning early in the 2019 season. But he also threw 12 interceptions and, more distressingly, lost 11 fumbles.
The bigger problem is that the Giants surrendered 43 sacks last season, and no one is convinced the offensive line will be substantially better this time around. They’ll start rookie Andrew Thomas at left tackle and presumably Cam Fleming at right tackle. If Fleming, primarily a backup with the vastly superior Cowboys offensive line, can’t handle it, then the New York Giants will have to plug the unreliable Nate Solder back into the equation.
Too many changes for Daniel Jones to handle
Daniel Jones did some things right as a New York Giants rookie out of Duke. Getting 12 starts under his belt and throwing for 3,027 yards was a decent way to acclimate to the pro game, but look at the obstacles he’s facing in Year 2:
- A new head coach and offensive coordinator.
- A completely new offense scheme.
- An offseason disrupted by the pandemic shutdown, depriving him of crucial learning time.
- A 2020 draft class that includes no help at the skill positions.
- And Jones still has to prove he can hang on to the football.
If Jason Garrett is truly overhauling everything and installing the Dallas Cowboys’ offense, then the Giants need more targets who can stretch the field; Pro Football Focus reports Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott was fifth last fall in throws of 20 or more yards. Darius Slayton showed some burner speed as a rookie, but Golden Tate, Evan Engram (who has missed 13 games in two years), and Sterling Shepard aren’t built for that.
There is a bright side for Daniel Jones
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones can at least take comfort in knowing that coordinator Jason Garrett knows how to run an offense, having played quarterback for 12 years and called plays for three seasons in Dallas before being promoted to head coach. Garrett’s recruitment of Cowboys assistant Marc Colombo to coach the offensive line should also be beneficial when it comes to aligning play-calling with protection packages.
The Cowboys led the NFL last season in offensive yardage, including a robust running game with Ezekiel Elliott that the Giants’ Saquon Barkley should be able to match stride for stride – and then some. But the rest of the offense has to click.
“The biggest thing is it’s been successful, it’s scored a lot of points and gained a lot of yards,’’ Jones told The New York Post. “I’ve only played in the NFL for one year, so there’s a lot out there I haven’t done, a lot out there I don’t know.’’
If Jones can learn quickly in the film room once team facilities re-open and then apply that knowledge in camp beginning in July, then the Giants stand to make progress.
But this will be Jones’ third offensive scheme, third head coach and third coordinator in three years. There’s the real possibility of everything falling apart for him and then feeling the weight in 2021 when the New York Giants have to decide whether to extend him or start looking for another answer at quarterback.