The Giants believe Daniel Jones has found his voice.
With the final game of the season looming, the rookie quarterback’s first season in the NFL is almost ready for a full evaluation. But among those inside the Giants’ locker room, Jones has grown into a vocal leader.
It may not be the hype-man kind of leadership most would assume, as Jones has more of a soft-spoken and calm demeanor, but his teammates have noticed just how much more initiative he has taken to better communicate with everyone.
“I think just being around more, getting to know everyone better and people getting to know me better,” Jones said of his newfound outspokenness. “I think I understand I’m still a younger player and, like I said, there’s a lot to learn, a lot to learn from the older guys. Being able to communicate, being able to talk through things and get on the same page, I think is important, particularly for a quarterback. I try to do that when I can.”
Jones made his first start in Week 3 and missed Weeks 14 and 15 because of a high ankle sprain. Thinking back to his first NFL start, the 22-year-old said he hoped he looked a lot different than that game at Tampa Bay.
Heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Eagles, Jones has completed 62.1 percent of his passes (256-for-412). He added five more touchdowns in the Giants’ 41-35 overtime win in Washington to give him 23 passing touchdowns this season. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula was particularly impressed with how quickly Jones was able to settle back into play after two weeks off.
But like all rookies, there were growing pains. Jones threw at least one interception in half of the 12 games he has played in, including three games with more than one. He’s fumbled at least once in nine of those games as well, giving him 16 fumbles on the season. However, the coaching staff is pleased with his progress throughout the season.
“I think he’s done a really good job,” Shula said after practice Thursday. “I think that, unfortunately though, we don’t have the wins to show for it. Just going back from Day 1 of the offseason and training camp, … his knowledge of what he’s being asked to do and then the speed at which he does it has been impressive for a young guy. Like anybody else, just continue making strides in that area.
“He’s very talented, but there’s a lot of things that come with the position. The ups and the downs and the highs and the lows of handling all the what-ifs, as we say, things that show up that you hadn’t quite talked about. Whether or not it’s on the field, off the field, all the things that you’re going to go through as a first-year player and then you move into the second year. Right now, we’re just kind of locked in on this week. He had a good practice today so hopefully we’ll have success early.”
While reflecting on how the season has gone, coach Pat Shurmur noted Jones has “made tremendous strides.” However, a 4-11 record doesn’t exactly indicate many positives for the Giants. But this was Jones’ first season as an NFL quarterback, meaning the real measuring stick will come in Year 2.
“It’s our last game, we’re one of 20 teams where this is going to be your last game,” Shurmur said. “And unfortunately, we’re not one of the 12 [playoff teams], yet. So what you want to try to do is win that game for your fans to be able to enjoy a victory to end the year. That’s important and I think that’s what we all fight for.”