By: Jordan Kendall, Senior Staff Writer
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
After two subpar seasons, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is on the hot seat in 2021. It’s likely that if he doesn’t prove himself this year, he may need to find another job. As a Giants fan, I’ve had conflicting feelings about Jones since he was drafted. For this week’s column, I will discuss how I feel about our signal caller.
Entering the 2019 NFL Draft, the quarterback class was much weaker than it had been in the last decade. Outside of Kyler Murray, who went to the Arizona Cardinals first overall, no one else was considered a can’t-miss prospect. This unfortunately meant that anyone else needing a quarterback was going to have to reach and hope it works out.
That is exactly what New York general manager Dave Gettleman did with Jones. He drafted Jones sixth overall, over players such as defensive end Brian Burns and wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.
Burns has become a solid pass rusher for the Carolina Panthers, and had nine sacks in 2020. Metcalf has put his name among the league’s best receivers with the Seattle Seahawks. Last season, Metcalf had over 1,300 receiving yards and ten touchdowns.
Instead of Burns or Metcalf among others in the 2019 draft, the Giants took Jones. Since entering the league, he has struggled with turnovers. As a rookie in 2019, he fumbled the ball 18 times. He also threw 12 interceptions and completed less than 62% of his passes.
The good news was in 2020 he reduced his fumbles to 11. He also threw two fewer picks and slightly improved his completion percentage to 62.5%. The bad news is that after throwing 24 touchdowns as a rookie, he only threw 11 in year two.
Usually, rookie quarterbacks who weren’t great in year one take a step forward in year two. I don’t think he did, and I’m not sure if he even improved. He has been very inconsistent and I didn’t see enough last year to prove otherwise. He makes a few good throws every game, but he also makes a couple that no NFL quarterback should ever try.
He has received a lot of criticism this offseason, some is well deserved. However, he was not put in a situation to succeed immediately. Since New York won Super Bowl 46 in 2012, their offensive line has been arguably the worst in the league.
In the last five years, it hasn’t improved nearly enough. Since 2016, the Giants offensive line has ranked in the bottom half of the league every year according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). The highest ranking was 17th overall in 2019, however, the offensive tackle duo of Nate Solder and Mike Remmers combined for 97 pressures allowed which led the NFL.
Last season New York was ranked the worst offensive line in the NFL. Left tackle Andrew Thomas finished with a 54.7 pass blocking grade, which was 82nd best of 89 qualified players. While he was a rookie in 2020, he was also a first-round pick. The Giants cannot afford another miss on a first-round offensive tackle.
Jones lacks a true offensive line, but he does not lack weapons around him. If he has enough time to find them, they should be able to make plays for him. Wide receivers Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard each surpassed 650 yards in 2020. Tight end Evan Engram was a Pro Bowler with 654 yards last season.
This offseason, New York signed wide receiver Kenny Golladay. He missed most of last season, but had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons from 2018-2019. He is expected to be the number one receiver and should help out Jones.
Most importantly for Jones, running back Saquon Barkley is back. He missed most of last season as well, but had back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons in 2018 and 2019. When healthy, Barkley is arguably a top five running back in football. He should also take pressure off of Jones this season.
It’s time for Jones to prove himself in 2021. He has plenty of help around him and is now in his third season. It’s not the ideal scenario for him, but he has to make it work. Jones was put in a tough situation replacing quarterback Eli Manning. He’s shown flashes of potential, but also flashes of Manning in his last few years. How Jones performs this season will go a long way in determining if the Giants make the playoffs.