The first glimpse of the future was a tiny yet exhilarating one for Giants fans who will be starving for more when Daniel Jones relieves Eli Manning on Friday night against the Bears at MetLife Stadium.
There is nothing like an organization’s chosen young franchise quarterback to get a fan base’s collective heart racing, or have you forgotten the way Jets fans hyperventilated last summer over Sam Darnold?
The difference, of course, is Darnold had a clear path to the starting job, while Jones has Manning standing between him and the future.
Jones nevertheless simultaneously whet appetites and at least temporarily quieted naysayers who couldn’t comprehend how Dave Gettleman could make him the sixth pick of the draft.
OK kid, let’s see what you can do for an encore.
It will be impossible for him to improve upon 5-of-5 passing for 67 yards and a touchdown, but that’s his fault for setting the expectations bar so high.
Lightning doesn’t strike twice.
But because it struck once, Jones got only one series against the Jets before he was asked to call it a night.
Pat Shurmur will look to give him a more extended look before Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta mop up, as well he should.
Because it is critical the offensive line builds chemistry, cohesiveness and camaraderie, Shurmur should let Jones operate behind the starters.
The idea is for Jones to start the season as the backup, and this is the time for him to get invaluable experience, especially because the third preseason game is when Manning will get as much as three quarters in his final tune-up before the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Cowboys.
Remember, Shurmur opted to keep Tanney active over Lauletta last season largely because of his experience.
John Mara made it sound this week that Jones could be the reincarnation of Phil Simms every time he steps into the huddle, and Manning will be his quarterback until hell freezes over anyway.
What he didn’t say, what he couldn’t say, what he didn’t have to say, was that the Giants hedged their bets when they drafted Jones as insurance for the very real possibility of hell freezing over again.
“[Duke coach] David Cutcliffe does teach quarterbacks like he would teach a pro … it’s not like a super-gimmicky offense or anything like that,” Simms told me.
The fairy tale has Manning freeing himself from the cloak of mediocrity and leading a heartwarming playoff renaissance that takes him close to or even past his 39th birthday on Jan. 3.
What Giants fan wouldn’t want to see that?
The Giants fan who wants to get on with the Manning succession plan on a rebuilding team that few expect to make any kind of playoff run.
Manning has the best offensive line he has had in years, and Manning has Saquon Barkley, which means that Jones will have the best offensive line the Giants have had in years and Jones will have Barkley whenever his time arrives.
Manning won’t, of course, have Odell Beckham Jr., and he won’t have suspended Golden Tate for the first four games of the season, and he won’t have a defense that will make his life easier, which won’t help his chances of engineering the so-called Kansas City model that would render Jones a 2019 spectator a la Patrick Mahomes.
First things first:
What can Daniel Jones do for an encore?
Everyone will be watching. Everyone should be watching. He is the Boy Who Would Be King.