The moment Daniel Jones runs onto the field at MetLife Stadium to take his first preseason snap, all eyes will be on him.
It’s only a preseason game, right? Well, that’s not necessarily the case for Jones, the rookie quarterback fans are prepared to boo at any early signs of struggle.
In past seasons, the last 14 years to be exact, anticipation for the Giants preseason opener was predictable when it came to the quarterback position.
The preseason narrative has normally been how long would Eli Manning play before giving way to the backup which never was going to see a snap in the regular season.
That all changed, however, this past spring when the Giants used their sixth overall draft pick to select Jones.
Fans were quick to throw their hands up in disgust when Jones’ name was called on draft night. In the aftermath, some fans have struggled to maintain their composure whenever the team went out of its way to defend or justify picking him that high on the board.
Because it’s not so much that Jones was picked by the Giants as it is where on the draft board the Giants picked him.
Going into draft night there was the obvious mandate, the Giants needed to take a quarterback. Dwayne Haskins was on the board, so was Drew Lock. The Giants, armed with the 6th and 17th overall picks, instead had their minds made up that Jones was their guy.
It wasn’t the popular pick within the fanbase, the Giants know this. But it also wasn’t a deep pool of quarterbacks to choose from this year. Once Kyler Murray came off the board, at number one to Arizona, that pool quickly became shallow.
The debate centering around Jones will be was it worth using the 6th pick to get him instead of Haskins? And is Jones as good as the Giants seem to believe? They reportedly felt he wouldn’t be around to use their 17th pick on him. Haskins, meanwhile, eventually went to New York’s division rivals, the Washington Redskins, with the 10th overall pick.
The answers won’t come until Jones takes the field and shows everyone what he can do in an actual NFL game. Preseason won’t be what ultimately determines Jones is the quarterback of the future for the Giants. That decision was made once general manager Dave Gettleman used a Top-10 pick on him.
What preseason can do, however, is help justify to the fans what the Giants saw in Jones. While it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion Manning will be the starter when the regular season begins, there’s plenty of opportunity for Jones to establish himself in August.
Playing Jones with the starters can be beneficial for all parties involved. Jones, the Giants, and the fans need to get more than a small sample taste of what the future looks like.
Manning, always prepared, will get his work in. Manning, the 15-year veteran many believe to be in decline, however, could also play his way into a scenario where head coach Pat Shurmur must pull the plug on him. Much like when Tom Coughlin benched veteran Kurt Warner in week 11 of the 2004 season to make way for the Manning era to begin.
And if Jones is indeed the heir apparent, then it would behoove the Giants to give him as much on his plate as this preseason can offer.
Now is an ideal time for Jones to get some experience. It’s an ideal time for the Giants to see if he’s ready for what’s about to be put on his plate.
All eyes will be on him.