In a do-or-die season for many in the New York Giants organization, the condemned are trying to delay the guillotine. Quarterback Daniel Jones, by no fault of his own, seems to be the barometer by which General Manager Dave Gettleman will be evaluated. He knows this as much as anyone, and spent heavily trying to make it look like he didn’t use the No. 6 in the 2019 NFL Draft reaching for a franchise QB who wasn’t there. That’s why the news that Jones will be shut down for the rest of the season due to a neck injury isn’t surprising.
Would it be beyond Gettleman to prolong the evaluation process of his most noteworthy move in order to keep his job? Absolutely not, but it most likely won’t accomplish that goal. Jones’ injury won’t require surgery and doesn’t sound career-threatening — he should be fine with some rest. It’s probably smart to shut him down, though, regardless of whether he’s the answer at QB, because the team is 4-10 and heading toward another year without a postseason.
The nice thing to know — other than the exact date Gettleman will be terminated — would be if Jones can be the guy at all.
Can he be competent the way Alex Smith was after the 49ers finally got a serviceable coach in there? Is there a chance he’s been on Detroit Lions-level bad teams and could do a Matt Stafford-lite impression in a better situation? He’s looked good enough at times to get the Danny Dimes nickname, and it was only partly facetious.
The same could be said for Joe Judge, who has been hellacious in his second season after a not-totally-worthless first year. (Going 6-10 isn’t great but cobbling together the ninth-best defense with misfit toys is not easy.) If Judge’s GM had made the moves to fix the offensive line, is there a Jason Garrett-free reality where the Giants score touchdowns and Saquon Barkley is juking defenders in the open field as opposed to the backfield? Is the comically conservative play-calling a result of Jones being sacked 105 times in 38 games, or is it the other way around?
If Jones’ psyche hasn’t already reached an unrecoverable David Carresque low that comes from constant hits, it’s getting close. He’s thrown 45 touchdowns to 29 interceptions and fumbled 36 times, losing 20 of those, in three years. His touchdown to turnover ratio is 50 to 49. Sam Darnold, in comparison, has 44 TDs to 42 turnovers over that same stretch. That’s the kind of company Jones is in, even if he has shown more flashes than Darnold.
For all his woes, Jones is mobile and can throw a good ball. He gets dinged for not working progressions and staring down receivers too often, which is fair until you realize he’s never had time to do the former and that’s led to the latter. If you make the right argument/excuses, there’s a world where Gettleman didn’t make a god-awful pick. Objectively, though, it looks like a reach made worse by a poorly run team. (To be fair, the only other QB still getting run from the 2019 NFL Draft besides Kyler Murray and Jones is Gardner Minshew, but he was a sixth-round pick and isn’t a starter anymore.)
Unfortunately for the Giants, they’ve been in the company of the atrocious teams/organizations I mentioned (Jets, Lions, Texans, 49ers for a hot second). Jones’ tenure in New York so far is a perfect example of how bad franchises ruin young QBs: Put massive expectations on them, surround them with bad coaching staffs and offensive lines, disrupt their continuity on a whim with roster and staff changes, expose them to a ton of hits, let them make a ton of mistakes, and then discard them.
It’s a miracle Stafford and Smith were able to survive such shitty situations and eventually play for good teams with good coaches. I don’t know if Jones is good enough to do that, though. Darnold got three years with the Jets before they got rid of him in order to fuck up the next quarterback they draft in the first round.
If this offseason plays out the way a lot of people are predicting it will and Gettleman gets fired, a new GM could mean a new coach, which would be the third for Jones and the fourth in seven years for the team. Moving on from Danny Loose Change is entirely possible this offseason, but that would mean restarting the cycle and taking another swing on a franchise QB in a draft that apparently doesn’t have one — at least not where they’re picking.
There are pieces worth salvaging on this Giants team, and Jones may be one of them. Though, it’s probably better he’s not out there trying to improve on his TD-TO ratio because, even if it would positively affect his evaluation by his next staff, GM or team, improvement is not happening in his current situation.
The Giants need to stop trying to figure out a franchise QB and just figure out the franchise.