Daniel Jones is entering his third season with the New York Giants, and it’s arguably the most important season of his young career. The former first-rounder has been less than stellar through two NFL seasons, but the Giants brass believes in him. One of the greatest players in the franchise’s history, Eli Manning, has high hopes for Jones in the 2021 season.
Daniel Jones has struggled as the starter for the New York Giants
The Giants drafted Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Duke University. Much was made about the connection between Jones and Eli Manning.
Jones’s college coach, David Cutcliffe, has strong ties to the Manning family. He spent time at the University of Tennessee as their quarterbacks coach and played a hand in Peyton Manning‘s development. As the head coach at Ole Miss, Cutcliffe recruited Eli Manning.
Jones spent three seasons under the Blue Devils head coach. He threw for 8,201 yards and 52 touchdowns for his career. The Giants signal-caller also added 1,323 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground.
He didn’t project as a generational talent at the next level. His struggles under pressure were concerning as well, according to The Draft Network. However, when general manager Dave Gettleman drafted Jones, he probably felt like he hit the lottery.
Jones has made some plays in a Giants uniform. Still, he hasn’t done anything to separate himself from the other young quarterbacks.
Eli Manning set a high bar for New York Giants quarterbacks, but Jones hasn’t come close.
Eli Manning predicts a big season for Daniel Jones
Eli Manning enjoyed an impressive 16-year NFL career with the New York Giants. The four-time Pro Bowler led the franchise to two Super Bowl championships. He earned Super Bowl MVP honors both times. He ranks eighth all-time in career passing yards and ninth in passing touchdowns in NFL history.
The numbers suggest a potential future Pro Football Hall of Fame bid, but Manning’s impact on the franchise can’t be measured by simply numbers.
The New Orleans native joined ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill, and Max to discuss the outlook for the Giants in 2021. Max Kellerman asked Manning what he expects from Daniel Jones in the 2021 season. “I think he’ll be able to take that step forward,” he said.
Manning mentioned that Jones had to learn a new offense in 2020, and there were revolving pieces on the offensive line that played a role as well. “I’ve seen firsthand how hard Daniel works, how important it is for him to be a successful player,” said Manning.
He said that Jones realizes how important year three is for his career, but the young signal-caller is not feeling pressured. “I think he can go out there and have a big year,” Manning predicted.
The Giants have the best offensive weapons of Jones’ career
Daniel Jones took over for Eli Manning as the starting quarterback four games into the 2019 season. The Giants went 3-9 with him under center. However, they weren’t a good team to begin with.
Saquon Barkley was the lone bright spot of New York’s offense. Darius Slayton showed flashes, but by and large, the receiving corps left much to be desired.
The Giants improved to a 6-10 record in 2020, but the skill positions as a whole failed to produce. Barkley went down in the second game of the season and missed the rest of the year. No Giants receiver eclipsed more than 800 receiving yards on the season.
Jones didn’t perform well either. The Duke product threw for 2,943 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing 62.5% of his passes. He also threw 10 interceptions, which makes for an abysmal TD-INT ratio.
Jones’ pocket awareness was below average as well. He took too many unnecessary sacks and fumbled the ball 11 times. If it’s any consolation, that’s an improvement from his 18 fumbles in 2019.
Heading into 2021, the Giants have surrounded their young quarterback with the best array of weapons in his career. Saquon Barkley returns and is expected to play in Week 1, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. He’s one of the most complete running backs in the league when healthy.
The front office added former Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay in the offseason. He’s struggled in the offseason, but he has the skill set to be a game-changer in this offense. The Giants also drafted Kadarius Toney in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. A rough training Game has hurt his stock too.
The offensive weapons could be a big help, but Jones just has to play better. There are no excuses this time around.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference