The heat will be on the entire Giants franchise when they begin their quest to make the playoffs for only the second time since they won Super Bowl XLVI following the 2011 season, but a few of them will feel it a little more than the others. SNY made a list of the five Giants who’ll be under the most pressure this season.
No. 5 was tight end Evan Engram. No. 4 was defensive lineman Leonard Williams. No. 3 was head coach Joe Judge.
The countdown continues with No. 2 …
Quarterback Daniel Jones
The Giants’ trade for Eli Manning back in 2004 was clearly one of the most significant (and best) decisions in franchise history. It ushered in the Giants’ second Super Bowl Era and brought with it 15 years of stability at the most important position in sports.
That’s why the decision to draft Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft was just as significant, and they hope will be just as good. But despite the early positive returns from his promising rookie season, it’s still unknown if that decision will work out nearly as well.
It has to, though, because there is a ton riding on the right arm of the 23-year-old Jones, not the least of which is the short-term future of the franchise. It has proven to be extremely difficult, and even impossible, for some teams to smoothly transition from one franchise quarterback to the next one. The process can sometimes take years and involve several different quarterbacks and drafts.
When that happens — when a team gets it wrong — it’s not just a short-term setback. It proves to be a waste of the 3-4 years they give a young quarterback to find his footing and dooms them to another 3-4 years of grooming his replacement. It’s a given that a franchise that chooses the wrong franchise quarterback sets itself back five years, at least.
Now, there’s obviously no indication that Jones is the wrong choice. He had a terrific rookie season, throwing for 3,027 yards in 12 games, while completing 61.9 percent of his passes and throwing for 24 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions. Yes, he fumbled a lot — 18 times — and that needs to be fixed. And the Giants’ offense wasn’t exactly electric under his direction. But there were still plenty of good signs.
There just needs to be more, and quickly. The NFL is no longer in an era where young quarterbacks take 4-5 years to develop. The really good ones — Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and DeShaun Watson, just to name a few — now develop a lot faster than that.
Not that Jones won’t get four years if he needs it, but the consequences will be great if he doesn’t put everything together fast. If he struggles, the Giants will struggle, which could prove costly for the man who picked him, Dave Gettleman. It would also mean wasting yet another year of the electric Saquon Barkley‘s career. And it would put enormous pressure on Jones and the Giants heading into 2021, which could very well turn out to be a make or break year for him.
Again, there’s no sign they’re headed that way. Jones got mostly rave reviews from his rookie season, both from inside and outside the organization. It does look like Gettleman and the Giants got this pick right, and they managed to navigate the difficult transition from one franchise quarterback to the next one.
Jones just needs to make sure that the transition continues to be as smooth and as successful as it has so far seemed.