1. QB Daniel Jones
It’s difficult to imagine any NY Giants player owning a better chance of having a breakout season than quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones is adept at proving doubters wrong and has shown the ability to thrive in the face of adversity.
Many fans of the NY Giants and football “experts” alike were highly critical of Jones after he was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. However, Danny Dimes would quickly put to rest any questions over whether or not he was talented enough to justify such a high pick.
After excelling early and often in the preseason last year, the Giants decided to make the move to their quarterback of the future just four games into the regular season. After winning the first two games started in his NFL career, it was rough sledding for Jones throughout the majority of the remaining games last season.
However, it should be noted that Jones was not expected to start for at least a year or two according to Dave Gettleman and he faced an uphill battle immediately through no fault of his own.
The Giants’ offensive line was atrocious in front of Jones last season, allowing him to be sacked 38 times and to be hit another 119 times on the season. It seemed as though there was always a pass rusher breathing down the neck of Jones on every passing play.
The lack of time that Jones was given in the pocket on a regular basis played a major factor in the alarming number of fumbles that he had last season (18). It also played a role in the 12 interceptions that he threw because he was forced to get rid of the ball before his receivers could get open.
Given that the NY Giants were often playing from behind, throwing the ball out of bounds wasn’t always an option, as Jones had to hope to make something happen to attempt to erase large deficits his team was typically facing.
Despite the fact that the offensive line performed poorly in front of Jones on a regular basis, he was still able to throw for over 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns in just 12 games started. In addition, Jones became the first rookie quarterback to throw for 350+ yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in a game.
Jones should benefit greatly from the major overhaul of the offensive line this offseason. Most notable will be the improvement at the tackle position where Mike Remmers and Nate Solder allowed Jones to be pressured a total of 97 times last season.
New York now has a number of options with what they can do at the tackle position with the addition of Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, and Cam Fleming to holdovers Nick Gates and Nate Solder.
In addition to improving at both tackle positions, the Giants should also see a significant upgrade at center after last year’s center Jon Halapio allowed two sacks and 18 pressures last season, which was the third-most amongst all centers in the league. The team hopes that either Gates, Spencer Pulley, or Shane Lemieux will provide more viable upgrades to what Halapio was able to do last season.
Improved pass protection should help Daniel Jones immensely, as he showed uncanny ability to thread the needle and make big plays when the line was able to afford him time in the pocket. The amount of talent that has been added should allow him ample time to find open receivers in 2020.
Speaking of receivers, the wide receivers of the New York Giants should play a major role in Daniel Jones having a breakout season in 2020. So should the other skill players on an offense that is busting at the seams with talent.
Last season Jones was forced to play much of the season without the majority of his weapons. Saquon Barkley missed three games due to an ankle injury, Evan Engram missed eight games due to injury, Golden Tate missed four games due to suspension and another two due to injury, Sterling Shepard missed six games due to concussions, and Darius Slayton missed two games due to injury.
As a result, Daniel Jones rarely had all of his top weapons playing at the same time. The likelihood that the team is decimated by injury as badly as they were last season is extremely low, which should give Jones a significant boost alone.
The fact that Jones was a rookie is important to note as well, as there is an extreme learning curve for any quarterback making the transition from the collegiate level to the NFL. Given the seeming ease that Jones was able to make that transition while taking over for a legend in Eli Manning, dealing with a porous offensive line, and a plethora of injuries to key players is a testament to how good he can be in the future.
Also, New York made a significant upgrade at offensive coordinator, going from former head coach Pat Shurmur struggling to try to simultaneously call offensive plays and perform game management duties, to an offensive coordinator who is regarded as one of the brightest offensive play-callers in the NFL in Jason Garrett. Jones should benefit immensely from having Garrett call plays for him during the game.
If Daniel Jones can receive improved play from his offensive line, his weapons can remain healthy this season, and he can continue to progress as he learns the NFL game, the sky is the limit for the young Giants quarterback.
Rather than it taking multiple years, we could witness a major breakout campaign as early as next season from Danny Dimes.