When you think of a mobile quarterback, certain players probably come to mind. Old-school fans might prefer Randall Cunningham or Michael Vick; in the modern game, few can run like Lamar Jackson. New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, however, isn’t going to be the first name that anyone mentions.
While Jones might not seem like a dynamic rushing threat on paper, he’s shown a knack for getting out of the pocket and making something happen with his legs. In fact, the New York Giants quarterback’s rushing stats are a bit more impressive than you’d think.
Daniel Jones hasn’t had the easiest start to his NFL career
As countless athletes can attest, playing under the media microscope in New York City isn’t the easiest task in the world. Daniel Jones, however, has faced some additional challenges during his time with the Giants.
Jones played his college football at Duke and, after a strong senior year, joined the New York Giants as the sixth-overall pick of the 2019 NFL draft. While he started the season on the bench, the rookie got his chance in Week 3; Ben McAdoo benched Eli Manning and handed Jones the starting job.
While there were some growing pains, Jones posted solid stats, throwing for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns in 12 starts; considering the Giants’ overall struggles, the rookie gave Big Blue’s fans a positive to hold onto. 2020, however, has been even tougher.
In addition to adjusting to a new offensive scheme this season, Jones has lost some of his major weapons; Saquon Barkley suffered a torn ACL, and Sterling Shepard has barely played due to turf toe. Understandably, the quarterback’s personal passing stats declined, too. Through six games, he’s thrown for 1,223 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions to his name.
‘Daniel Jackson’ has some surprisingly impressive rushing stats
From a passing perspective, Daniel Jones hasn’t looked great during 2020. His rushing stats, however, have been a bit more positive.
Last season, Jones rushed for a respectable 279 yards on 45 carries; through six games of the 2020 campaign, he’s already piled up 204 yards on 27 runs. The quarterback is also leading the club in rushing yards in the absence of Saquon Barkley and the NFL’s fourth-best rushing quarterback, only behind Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, and Cam Newton.
While those counting stats are impressive, NFL’s Next Gen Stats place Jones in some elite company. According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, the Giants quarterback sprinted at 20.64 mph during Week 6’s meeting with the Washington Football Team; that’s running back and receiver-level speed, which helps explain why he’s earned the nickname ‘Daniel Jackson’ from Darius Slayton.
Beyond the raw stats, Daniel Jones’ legs can be an invaluable weapon
In the long-term, no one wants Daniel Jones to be the New York Giants’ top rushing threat. With that being said, though, his scrambling ability isn’t just good for filling out the stat sheet; it should be an invaluable tool throughout his NFL career.
While some fans may long for the days when the likes of Johnny Unitas stood tall in the pocket to deliver a pass, the modern NFL is an entirely different ballgame. Athleticism and mobility rule the day; there’s less and less room on anyone’s roster for a one-dimensional player.
Even if Jones doesn’t rush for 1,000 yards per season, his ability to break the pocket will only be a positive. Keeping plays alive pays massive dividends in the passing game; think of how many times that Patrick Mahomes, for example, can buy his receivers a few extra seconds to get open.
Jones’ mobility can also give opposing defenses an extra factor to worry about. Ahead of Week 7, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz admitted that his unit needed to keep tabs on the Giants quarterback.
“He can surprise you with his mobility,” Schwartz explained, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “We can’t be surprised about that, because he does have good mobility and he’s run for some first downs. He’s probably not the first guy you think of when you think about mobile quarterbacks, but he’s run the zone read and a couple different layers of it really well, and he has not been afraid to put his head down and get extra yards.’’
Barring a late-season run, the 2020 campaign will be a disappointing experience for the New York Giants and their fans. If you’re looking for positives, though, Daniel Jones’ surprising rushing stats might give you something to cling to.