It has gone south in a hurry for Daniel Jones. The searing New York microscope is relentless, it will expose your faults for all to see, and the Big Apple will swallow you alive if you aren’t careful, or if you are weak-minded.
One minute you can be The Chosen One who follows seamlessly in Eli Manning’s Giant footsteps, the next minute you can be racing free and alone toward the end zone and you stumble over your own two feet on national television before you get there. And then struggle to get back up.
At any given moment in time, the game will humble you, bring you to your knees, test every ounce of character and courage and intestinal fortitude inside you.
Welcome to The World of Daniel Jones.
If and when you become a star, there is no better place to win than New York.
And there is no worse place to lose, or lose the faith of your fan base.
Quarterbacks are ultimately judged by their won-lost record, and yes, there are extenuating circumstances, but Daniel Jones is 4-16.
The young Phil Simms successfully weathered the boo birds at Giants Stadium, and now, even though the pandemic has shielded Daniel Jones from their wrath, it is Daniel Jones who must show that he is indeed made of the same right stuff.
Jones overcame plenty of adversity at Duke, and it was one of the big reasons why he appealed to Giants GM Dave Gettleman.
Richard Todd had the misfortune of following Joe Namath off Broadway, and in a pique of frustration once flipped the bird to Jets fans.
Daniel Jones wanted to be this franchise’s quarterback, wanted this town, wanted these bright lights and this stage.
It is make-or-break time for him now, starting Sunday against the Washington Football Team.
Be the confident quarterback and leader he was as a rookie when he became the apple of New York’s eye, or keep fumbling and throwing interceptions and leave Joe Judge little choice but to push to draft his own quarterback, be it Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields or the next highest-rated option.
The incessant noise can make you a basket case when so many hopes and prayers rest on your shoulders.
“I certainly don’t look for it,” Jones said.
Any sign of Jones cracking might have compelled Judge to sit his young quarterback for a week to clear his head. There was no need.
“I’m concerned with the people in this building, my teammates, my coaches, the people I work with on a day-to-day basis, and that’s where I’m gonna find the constructive criticism I need to improve and keep moving forward,” Jones said. “My focus is to prepare every week to play as well as I can, so I’m gonna do that with the people in this building, coaches and teammates … that’s part of the job.”
His saving grace will have to be that even in the eye of the storm, he remain the same guy every day, same as Manning was every day, in good times and bad.
It is the face he presents to his teammates, to Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and QB coach Jerry Schuplinski … to the media on a Wednesday Zoom call when asked whether Mr. and Mrs. Tate violated Judge’s Golden Rule: Thou Shalt Not Show or Tweet Selfishness and Demand More Passes at the expense of the team.
“I have a ton of respect for Golden, he’s a close friend, a close teammate, made a lot of plays over these last couple of years, and certainly have a lot of trust in him as a player,” Jones said. “He’s a great player, and we’ll keep trying to give him the ball.”
Jones recognizes that there are times when he had been trying too hard to give his receivers the ball, even if it hasn’t seemed enough to Tate, who was sent home to spend more time with his wife by Judge and didn’t participate in the walk-through.
“I think I need to do a better job understanding when the play’s over, and when it’s not there, and when the best outcome is to throw it away, or in some cases to take a sack,” Jones said. “I think certain situations like that I can certainly improve on, and I’ll continue to work on it.”
He has 36 career turnovers. He has lost 15 of 23 fumbles, been intercepted 21 times. All the tantalizing throws he sometimes makes, all the wondrous runs he sometimes makes, become less meaningful and impactful unless and until he can harness those lionhearted urges that occasionally keep him from taking a sack or throwing the ball away.
“All of us want to make plays and want to do the right thing, we want to put our team in a position to win,” Jones said, “and in those split-moment decisions, you gotta be able to understand the bigger picture and how each of those plays factor into the game overall.”
His teammates respect that he is always first in the building and last to leave.
“I think there’s certainly things you can change in the way you prepare and what you do on the practice field,” Jones said.
Easy kid to root for. He won’t go down without a fight.
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