How far can the New York Giants realistically go with Daniel Jones in 2019?

TAMPA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 22: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants scores a 4th quarter touchdown during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 22: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants scores a 4th quarter touchdown during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

After a sluggish 0-2 start with Eli Manning under center, it looks like the start of the Daniel Jones era has revitalized this locker room while simultaneously reawakening a passionate fanbase desperate for wins.

There was a moment just before the 2019 NFL Draft where it seemed as though the New York Football Giants were going to be stuck with the same issues they’ve been dealing with for the past six seasons – a faulty offensive line, a lackluster defensive unit, and an aging quarterback whose type of offensive play-making was slowly but surely being phased out.

Then Dave Gettleman showed us why ownership hired him as their General Manager prior to the start of the 2018 season by demonstrating his superb drafting skills in Nashville, TN.

Gentleman’s decision to draft Daniel Jones with the sixth-overall selection, in addition to his overall strategy of targeting promising defensive talent in subsequent rounds – such as DT Dexter Lawrence, CB DeAndre Baker, and DE Oshane Ximines – seems to have paid off through the first six weeks of the Giants season, even after another lackluster effort from the ‘D’against the Vikings (the younger guys actually mostly played well).

But even with these draft selections helping to reshape their depleted roster, the same nagging question remains in everyone’s mind:  Will 2019 be a year where Big Blue actually improves, or will it continue to be more of the same mediocrity?

Following the decision to make Jones the starting QB, I think the sky’s the limit for this re-energized football team. The way I see it, their offense can score points if Jones continues to develop and build off of the early success he’s experienced under center.

However, it’s important to note that the success of the offense is contingent on how well his re-tooled offensive line holds up, following the additions of veteran right guard Kevin Zeitler and right tackle Mike Remmers who have re-joined the offensive system that Head Coach Pat Shurmur brought over from Minnesota.

Provided both players can control the right side of the o-line, Saquon Barkley could conceivably perform even better than his breakout rookie season (during which he rushed for 1,307 yards) if they can block better than last year’s squad. The high-ankle sprain that the superstar suffered in week three seems like it will only lead to him missing two games.

And considering Pat Shurmur hinted about a heavier workload for his star running back this past offseason, it’s reasonable to assume that Saquon will be expected to carry the Giants running game when he returns, which in effect should help Jones operate a functional passing game and earn his preseason nickname, Danny Dimes.

Still, the biggest hurdle for Big Blue will be how their restructured defense performs, considering most of Gettleman’s defensive draft picks have already assumed several of the starting jobs (in Baker and Lawrence) left open after last season’s mid-season fire sale. After Sunday, it appears as though the group is still a long way off – there is much to be excited about in terms of the rookies, though.

It’s important to recognize their squad’s lack of established play-makers, following the Giants decision to let Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins walk during the offseason. Sure LB Alec Ogletree (when healthy) and CB Janoris Jenkins are impact players, but they don’t rank among the defensive elite in the NFL.

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Still, with James Bettcher calling the defensive schemes, I think the Giants defense will surprise many fans in how they perform as the season wears on, despite the multiple injuries they’ve sustained on their linebacker unit as well as the number of rookies lining up on the field. Bettcher’s scheme is said to be extremely complicated by most, so hopefully we can see the young guys start to get on the same page in the second half of the season.

The main goal for this 2019 team should have been just playing competitive games down the stretch, something we haven’t seen much of over the pas six years. Daniel Jones at quarterback exponentially improves the chances of that happening.

A playoff berth is a long shot (albeit a pipe dream for this young roster), but again, for me, it all depends on how their defense plays. They have a lot more to prove as the season wears on. With Jones now under center, they’re likely to finish the season 7-9, which for a rebuilding team like the Giants, is a great sign of better and brighter things to come.