Is Daniel Jones next Jameis Winston or Baker Mayfield? NY Giants must find out

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (Image via The Record)
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (Image via The Record) /

The 2021 NFL season could prove pivotal to the trajectory of NY Giants quarterback Daniel Jones’ career.

Typically, elite quarterbacks make significant strides in their second seasons; Patrick Mahomes won an MVP in his second season, as did Lamar Jackson in his, meanwhile, made his first of three Pro Bowls in his second season and Carson Wentz positioned the Philadelphia Eagles to make a Super Bowl season in his.

Jones did not follow that well-worn path in 2020.

Following an inconsistent — but very promising — rookie campaign in 2019, Jones regressed dramatically in 2020. He completed just 62.5 percent of his passes for 2,943 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Jones clearly showed enough to Giants head coach Joe Judge that he can become the franchise’s long-term answer.

“You always want to know about is Daniel our guy,” Judge told reporters, unprompted on back in December. “Are we going forward with Daniel? The answer is absolutely.

Not the progression the Giants would hope to see from a quarterback chosen No. 6 overall the prior April.

Recently, listed Jones as the No. 24 rated quarterback in the league:

"One of the most infuriating players in the entire league, Daniel Jones has proven in his short career that he can make every throw and almost any run. And yet, he turns the ball over (1.4 per game) like he’s going toe to toe with Jameis Winston. Can Jones make a Baker Mayfield-like leap in Year 3?"

NY Giants general manager Dave Gettleman vowed to dramatically improve Jones’ supporting cast to facilitate him taking a significant step forward in his third season, and second in coordinator Jason Garrett’s scheme. If the Giants make good on that promise and add game-altering receivers both via free agency and the NFL Draft, it will be up to Jones to finally live up to the promise of being a quarterback chosen in the top-10 picks.

Winston improved in each of his first two seasons before stepping back with a 3,504-yard 2017 season with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. After spending his first five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Winston signed with the New Orleans Saints as Drew Brees’ backup in 2020, one year removed from passing for 5,109 yards with 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.

Meanwhile, Mayfield has dramatically cut back on turnovers, after tossing just eight interceptions in 2020 one year after a career-high 21 in his second NFL season.

Mayfield also led the Browns back to the postseason for the first time since XX, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card round before falling to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Playoffs.

Is Jones the long-term answer, as Mayfield is in Cleveland? Or must the NY Giants pull the rip cord and go back to the quarterback well next April to mine a legitimate top-tier quarterback?

For the Giants and Jones, Jones proving that he’s capable of a Mayfield-like turnaround and leading his team on a similar renaissance is all that really matters about the 2021 season.

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Matt Lombardo is the site expert for GMenHQ, and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday for FanSided. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL.