NY Giants’ 2021: No more excuses for Daniel Jones

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 03: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants in action against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on January 03, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys 23-19. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 03: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants in action against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on January 03, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys 23-19. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

After an aggressive free agency period by the NY Giants, there’s no excuse for Daniel Jones to not show drastic improvement in year three.

The first two seasons of the Daniel Jones era have, for lack of better words, been a roller coaster for the NY Giants.

After being taken with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, his rookie campaign showed a ton of promise as he threw for over 3,000 yards and tossed 24 touchdowns in just 13 games.

With the good, however, there was also the bad. Jones turned the ball over 23 times (12 interceptions, 11 fumbles lost, 17 total fumbles), was sacked 38 times, and only mustered a 3-9 record as the starter.

But, Jones was a rookie, so that alone gives him a pass on some of his turnovers. Plus, even with those struggles he broke multiple franchise rookie records. And he still put up those numbers despite no true WR1 and one of the worst offensive lines in football.

So, all things considered there was a lot of good to take away from year one, and naturally there should be a lot of improvement heading into year two.

Enter COVID-19, a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, a virtual offseason, limited OTAs, and no preseason.

AlthoughJones did cut down his turnovers slightly, throwing 10 interceptions and losing 6 fumbles, he still averaged over 1 turnover/game and his passing numbers dropped dramatically despite starting 2 more games than his rookie season. Jones failed to reach 3,000 passing yards and threw only 11 touchdowns while getting sacked 45 times (4th most in the NFL).

Jones had arguably one of the worst hands dealt to him heading into year two before the season even started. And once the season did start, playing three eventual playoff teams in the first four weeks and losing Saquon Barkley in week two just added insult to injury.

There was growing pains with rookie franchise left tackle Andrew Thomas, again there was no true WR1 as Darius Slayton struggled to shoulder that responsibility, Jones missed three games due to injury, and Jason Garrett’s offense seemed to limit Jones’ best quality of stretching the field vertically.

To keep it short and simple, the first two years for Daniel Jones hasn’t been ideal. While everything mentioned above can be (rightfully) justified to explain Jones’ struggles thus far, these arguments simply won’t fly heading into year three.

For starters, this offseason shouldn’t be impacted by COVID-19 as much as least year and Jones will be heading into year two of the Garrett-run offense. He’s not learning a new system anymore and it’s not being taught through Zoom meetings. On top of that, getting to play in a few preseason games to get the gears turning and iron out the wrinkles should be extremely helpful. Jones doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt for the “it’s a new offense, it takes time” argument anymore.

Next, one of the biggest issues facing this offense (and Daniel Jones) since the departure of OBJ has been the lack of a true WR1 and dynamic playmaker on the outside. It was clear the Giants brass wanted to address the issue in free agency this offseason and they did just that when they signed the top-WR on the market in Kenny Golladay. 

In what was perhaps the biggest offensive free agency move for the GMEN since signing Plaxico Burress in 2005, Golladay brings a 6-4, 215 lb. frame to East Rutherford that will give Jones a true WR1 for the first time in his career. The move will also allow Darius Slayton to play his role as a true WR2 and Sterling Shepard to return as a legitimate slot-receiver where he thrives.

Add in the return of Saquon Barkley and signings of speedster John Ross and reliable redzone threat Kyle Rudolph and the argument that Jones has no playmakers around him now holds no water.

Next next next, the young OL unit for Big Blue will return and should show noticeable improvement in year two. Andrew Thomas won’t be a rookie anymore, and was hardly playing like one down the last stretch of the season in 2020. Nick Gates showed unreal potential as a center for the future, and Will Hernandez will back for his 4th season at left guard. Nate Solder is also returning to most likely play right tackle and while he struggled in 2019 at left tackle, he should provide an upgrade over Cam Fleming.

Finally, regardless of what profession one is in, experience matters.

Jones is heading into year three. He has 26 career starts. He’s not a rookie anymore. Things like pocket presence, bad turnovers, and protecting the ball all need to drastically improve. Jones has nearly two full seasons under his belt and that experience needs to start paying off.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s NFL MVP or bust in year three, but there does need to be a pretty substantial jump in his game this season. Daniel Jones is the guy, and he needs to prove that in 2021 – there’s no more excuses.