Everyone assumes this will be a make-or-break season ahead for Daniel Jones. It is year four, and the Giants will need to make a decision with his contract.
With the Giants basically in a rebuilding phase, and a playoff bid unlikely, what does Jones have to do to keep his job past this season?
And what if Jones had the same situation that predecessor Eli Manning had around him in his year four? For Jones, following in Manning’s footsteps hasn’t helped his cause.
Manning had a sturdy and dependable offensive line, a steady running back in Tiki Barber, and a bevy of dependable receivers. He won a Super Bowl in his fourth year, but he did throw 20 interceptions during the regular season.
Remember though, Manning as a pick was no-brainer. Jones was viewed as a longshot. There was enough flak from the previous season when the Giants drafted Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick and passed on Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson.
As time went on, Manning began to experience what Jones had had to encounter over his three years with the Giants.
Jones has had a buffet of offensive lineman, a franchise running back who always is hurt, and receivers who also have been off the field more than on it. Manning also was the victim of a general manager who couldn’t see his team needed a rebuild instead of a last-gasp effort to win.
Manning also experienced the hatchet job of head coaches after Tom Coughlin was shown the door.
Still, Manning has two Super Bowl rings on his fingers and the lifelong respect as the pinnacle of Giants’ quarterback to the majority of the Big Blue faithful.
Jones hasn’t earned the respect, and potential is still a key word surrounding him.
The talk of who will be available in next year’s draft to become the Giants’ next franchise quarterback already has begun. Jones has been the target of an onslaught of critics.
It is Year Four, and Jones should have a better offensive line, a healthy and upbeat Barkley, and a potentially rising stock of receivers in his arsenal. He also has a renowned offensive mind in Brian Daboll, who should be the G-Men’s head coach for a while. Don’t expect him to win a Super Bowl this season.
For the first time in his career, Jones has an apparent solid base behind him. Jones will be given every chance to prove that he can have a run like Manning’s.
Jones arguably is a better athlete than Manning, as he has shown the ability to run. He also has produced a higher completion rate, and his overall touchdown/interception rate is better.
I’ve argued that Jones does have an upside. But the Giants do appear ready to draft another quarterback if necessary. It will depend on the threshold.
For Jones, though, this season may be a no-win situation. If this team does win five games this winter, Jones may have to produce higher numbers than he has over the past three years.
His future apparently lies in the hands of Daboll, who transformed Allen into one of the top five quarterbacks in the game. The Giants did sign Tyrod Taylor as a backup, and a potential starter if Daboll decides to abandon Jones during the season.
Like the Jets with Zach Wilson, the Giants will decide if they have their next franchise quarterback.
It likely won’t be on wins and not necessarily on stats, but instead on a gut instinct and leadership ability, the same qualities they once saw in Manning.