A great deal has been made about the turnover issues that continue to plague Daniel Jones, with some ill-informed New Giants fans pointing to them as a means to label the rookie quarterback as a clear bust in the league. So where does Daniel Jones stand historically as a rookie quarterback? The results might just surprise you.
To say that it has been a rollercoaster like ride for Daniel Jones, since being selected with the sixth-overall pick in the 2019 NFL, Draft by the New York Giants, would be underselling the journey for the rookie. Despite experiencing tumultuous lows and impressive highs, the first year signal-caller seems to maintain an even keel about him, something that speaks to the moxie he possesses.
Jones has gone from being booed by fans when his name was announced as the selection, to again being booed while throwing out the first pitch at a Yankees game in June. Then, he was the toast of the town, as he dominated in the preseason and was victorious in his first two games as the Giants starting quarterback. However, hardship and doubt have reared their ugly heads again, as the Giants are currently in the midst of a six-game losing streak with Jones as their starter.
The current losing streak has resulted in the magnification of a turnover problem that Jones has had all season, as he currently leads the league with 21 turnovers – eight of which are interceptions and 13 are fumbles. The ball security issue has cause some to question whether it is something that can be corrected, while others have used it to label Jones a bust.
The idea that Daniel Jones is a bust is utter absurdity. While the fumbling issues are certainly concerning, one does not have to delve too deeply to recognize the underlying causes for the fumbling issues Jones is experiencing.
Lack of protection from the offensive line has been a major boon on the success of ‘Danny Dimes’ all season. Despite not starting the first two games of the season, Jones has been sacked 32 times in eight games already. That is only two sacks less than league leader Jameis Winston, who has been sacked 34 times in ten games. Over half of the fumbles that Jones has been responsible for are due to strip sacks. If the line protects him better, this number certainly is reduced.
In addition, Jones has had a couple of fumbles as a result of trying to extend runs for first downs. He has also had some fumbles that just came out of his hand in an inexplicably ugly manner. That said, the vast majority of the fumbling issues are due to him trying to do too much. If this is inexplicable to you, why don’t you ask a fan of a team that employs a gunshy, conservative quarterback (won’t be hard to find) and ask them which they’d rather have? Not to mention, don’t some of the fumbles get negated by the fact that he’s making big-time running plays on third downs as we saw against the Jets?
Unfortunately for Jones, he has had to play from behind most games this year. As a result, he is attempting to gain extra yards for first down conversions on runs, or holding onto the ball too long trying to wait for someone to get open in hopes of converting on a big pass play. In short, he is trying to make too much happen in an attempt to get his team back in the game.
Now that we have examined the 800-pound gorilla in the room, we can move on to review how Jones has performed outside of the turnover issue. Spoiler alert: he has been very impressive, especially when you factor in that he is just a rookie.
As previously mentioned, Jones led the Giants to a victory in his first two starts at quarterback. He is the first rookie to do so, since Phil Simms did it in 1979. In the first of the two victories, a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jones became only the seventh rookie quarterback in NFL history to lead his team on a game winning drive in his first starts.
Daniel Jones threw for over 300 yards, four passing touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets, something that a rookie quarterback has only done a total one other time in NFL history, when Marcus Mariota did it as a rookie in 2015. Jones has already accomplished this feat twice as many times as anyone else in the history of the league.
Jones joined Dak Prescott as the only rookie quarterbacks in league history to throw for over 300 yards, with two passing touchdowns and zero interceptions on more than one occasion. Prescott did it twice in 2016.
In addition, Jones is only the fifth rookie quarterback in league history to have at least two games with four passing touchdowns in a game. He is also the first Giants quarterback to lead the team in rushing yards in a game multiple times in a season, since the Super Bowl era began in 1966.
New York has only had rookie quarterbacks throw for 300 yards or more, five times in franchise history and Daniel Jones is responsible for two of those occasions. He also became only the second rookie signal caller in Giants history to have ten or more passing touchdowns through his first six games, joining Charlie Conerly, who threw for 14 in his first six games started in 1948.
Jones also holds the franchise record for the most consecutive games with a passing touchdown by a rookie quarterback, doing so in all eight games he has started. That doubles the previous Giants record that was held by Dave Brown at four consecutive games.
When the season is over, there is a good chance that Jones will hold numerous franchise (and quite possible entire league) rookie quarterback records. Those records include most completions (which he currently holds with 187), most pass attempts (he is three attempts away from breaking the record), most passing yards (currently 192 yards shy of the record) and most rushing yards (currently 280 yards away).
In addition, Jones has a legitimate chance of breaking the single season passing touchdown record by a rookie quarterback, set last season by Baker Mayfield, who threw for 27. Jones will need to average two passing touchdowns per game in his final six games to tie the record. In a lost season that started off with tremendous doubt cast over it’s rookie QB, wouldn’t it be awesome to see Jones going for the record in an otherwise meaningless Week 17 contest?
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In summary, while it is easy to chastise Daniel Jones for his ball security issues, it would be naive to ignore the plethora of statistics that place him amongst the elite rookie quarterbacks of all time. It should be noted that he has put up most of these stats with pathetic offensive line play and without the services of many of his best offensive weapons on a regular basis.
As bad as the season has been for the Giants so far this year, there should be a great deal of optimism for what the future holds for Jones. If the offensive line is upgraded in the offseason and his offensive weapons can stay healthy in the future, the sky is the limit for Jones and the Giants moving forward.
Daniel Jones has clearly passed the eye test as a rookie, and clearly looks like he belongs on an NFL football field.