Daniel Jones must wait to play, but not to get booed.
The shock of seeing pass-rusher Josh Allen on the board and, seemingly, already fitted for his blue Giants jersey, and then hearing a quarterback’s name called out with the No. 6 pick Thursday night — and, as another shot to the gut – that quarterback’s name not being Dwayne Haskins — was enough to drive many, many Giants fans off the road. There are red states, there are blue states and now there is the Big Blue apoplectic state.
The reaction serves as a backdrop to what comes next. The selection and ensuing outcry is the first chapter in what the Giants hope will be an extensive Book of Daniel filled with tales of wonder and not woe.
Twenty years ago, green-painted Eagles loyalists inside Madison Square Garden for the 1999 draft were poised to cry out in exaltation, anticipating running back Ricky Williams was bound for Philadelphia. What happened next was no example of brotherly love.
“Donovan McNabb, quarterback, Syracuse’’ was met with such disgust that the unwelcoming welcome stands the test of time, as far as rude introductions.
“I think for those [fans] who took the time to come up there to boo, I”m sure they’ll regret that moment,” McNabb said recently, “because it was a moment in Philadelphia Eagles history. It started something very successful.”
It was a moment alright. This is quite a place in time for the entire Giants organization. Jones is widely viewed around the league either as a solid prospect with a mid-level ceiling or a backup-type player. (Most NFL evaluators liked Jones better than Haskins, by the way). The Giants see Jones as something more and will be proven right, or wrong, whenever Eli Manning’s hold on the job is loosened and Jones gets on the field.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman is on the spot here. He has talked openly about wanting to leave the Giants with their next franchise quarterback, the way his buddy and confidant, Ernie Accorsi, did by trading for Manning on draft day in 2004. Manning won two Super Bowls and Accorsi’s legacy is as secure as the two newest Lombardi Trophies situated inside in the glass case at the team facility. History will judge Gettleman’s tenure on where Daniel Jones was taken and if he lives up to the lofty status, conjoined with how Allen’s career evolves as a defender.
Gettleman says he wants to see how youngsters handle adversity before deeming them worthy of selection. Before taking a snap, adversity has knocked on Jones’ door. If he arrived via the Giants’ second pick in the first round, at No. 17, the ire would have been tempered by getting Allen at No. 6 and the feeling Jones is, at best, more of a mid-round value.
Jones will have to wait to feel the love. He said he’s proven he can rise above adversity because as a walk-on at Duke he was “a guy who wasn’t recruited very heavily’’ and he eventually earned a scholarship and became a three-year starter.
“I had to overcome it and I’m glad it went the way it went and I wouldn’t do it any other way,’’ Jones said.
The way Jones has to do it now will test his ability to sidestep the negativity swirling around this selection. He has “quarterback after Eli’’ role to navigate. He has Haskins, residing in the NFC East division with the Redskins, as a twice-a season reminder of what the Giants passed up. Even closer, Jones will in time be compared with Sam Darnold, the man the Jets gleefully grabbed when the Giants decided Saquon Barkley was touched by the hand of God.
Coach Pat Shurmur, eventually tasked with transitioning from Manning to Jones, said he “tried to slow-play my roll’’ as he studied all the quarterbacks for this draft. He knew the magnitude of the decision.
“I wanted to be deliberate,’’ Shurmur said. “[Co-owner] John Mara and Dave Gettleman said they wanted a consensus on this. I wanted to give them an educated answer as to who I thought was going to be our guy. I was very deliberate about it because this was going to be a big draft pick.’’
There was no social media for venting when boos cascaded down on McNabb, who never won a championship with the Eagles but came as close as possible in a 13-year career, playing in five NFC title games and one Super Bowl. Simms back in 1979 was booed, vociferously, when the Giants took him with the seventh pick. Daniel Jones is not the peoples’ choice and in time will show if he was the correct choice.