The Giants are doing the right thing by standing by Daniel Jones

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The Giants are doing the right thing by standing by Daniel Jones

NFL

The Giants are doing the right thing by standing by Daniel Jones

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Almost like a tutor who failed to properly educate his student, New York Giants owner John Mara gave an honest assessment of how the team has handled the development of quarterback Daniel Jones during the introductory press conference of new General Manager Joe Schoen. 

“We’ve done almost everything possible to screw this kid up,” Mara said of the signal caller who is entering his fourth season with the team.

Schoen, who was one of the intricate pieces to building the current Buffalo Bills roster that is loaded with talent made it emphatically clear that he believes in Daniel Jones in his first rendezvous with the New York media.

“There’s not anybody in this building who has said a bad word about his work ethic, passion, desire to win. The kid has talent, physical ability. He’s got arm strength, he’s athletic, he can run. I’m really excited to work with Daniel,” Schoen said. “When the new staff gets in here, we’ll build an offense around Daniel to accentuate what he does best.”

Jones remains a point of division among the NFL community. Was he always going to be a bust? Is his inconsistency and mind boggling turnovers a product of the Giants failing him? What are the chances that it’s both? 

Whatever the answer is, after years of failing Jones and a succession of poor personnel and contract decisions, Schoen is starting his tenure in the Giants front office the right way by giving Eli Manning’s successor one more chance. 

With Jones still penciled in under center, the obvious question is how do the Giants put him in the best position to succeed?

Draft Premium Offensive Lineman

Former general manager Dave Gettleman had a risky strategy, or possibly a lack of a strategy when it came to the Giants offensive line in 2021. He decided he was not going to invest in veteran talent and hoped that 2020 fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas, who struggled as a rookie, a disastrous and severely overpaid Nate Solder and a ragtag group of mid-round picks and low-end free agents could make a competent unit. 

Gettleman took a roll of the dice and they bounced off of the table all the way into the basement of the NFC East as only Thomas, who was Pro Football Focus’ 19th-best offensive tackle, consistently looked the part, solidifying himself as the long term solution at left tackle. However, everything lined up to the right of Thomas on the line of scrimmage was a disaster. 

The first step towards super-glueing the Giants offensive line into something competent is the draft. Virtue of their own poor performance and trading down nine spots in last year’s draft, the Giants now have the privilege of the fifth and seventh overall  selections in the upcoming draft. And what they must do is obvious: draft an offensive lineman. While doubling-up on the offensive line in the first round is enticing, I totally understand taking an edge rusher or linebacker at the seventh pick. However, the first of the Giants opening round selections must be spent on an offensive tackle. Whether it be Alabama’s Evan Neal or North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu, doesn’t matter. Both project to be high-level NFL starters and have some sort of positional versatility, meaning that they will definitely be able to fill a vacancy somewhere along the offensive line. 

With three picks in the first 36 of the draft, New York is in prime position to follow a similar model to the mid-2010’s Cowboys teams that dominated the trenches with multiple Hall of Fame level talents and that was to invest premium draft capital in the offensive line. Protecting Daniel Jones is the obvious goal, but securing stability on the offensive line for the first time since the team won the Lombardi Trophy a decade ago is crucial in its own right. 

Utilize your stars and pray they are healthy 

While the Giants have largely failed to invest in its offensive line, the Giants have treated the skill positions like he was running a franchise in Madden. Selecting a running back second overall in 2018? Check. Selecting an unrefined, yet high-upside tight end who never developed at the position No. 23 the year before? Did that as well. Handing wide receiver Kenny Golladay $76 million just for him to accrue less than 550 yards and not touch the end zone once. Wow, that’s egregious. Less than two months after paying Golladay, the team passed on all-pro Micah Parsons, to trade down nine spots and select Kadarius Toney. A twitchy, unique receiver prospect, who while talented, spent more time building chemistry with the injury report than with Jones. Well, that’s just the luck of Daniel Jones. 

The bright side is that Jones has talent around him. The downside is the talented trio of running back Saquon Barkley and the receiver duo of Golladay and Kadarius Toney who flashed star potential as a rookie. Barkley looked like a shell of his former Rookie of the Year self, as injuries may have put a premature end to his star power. Meanwhile Golladay was under utilized after both he and Toney spent much of the preseason and regular season on the injury report. The health and productivity of this trio is crucial. 

At his best, Barkley was arguably the best back the league had. Golladay isn’t far removed from a two season stretch with Detroit where he accrued more 2,200 yards and 16 touchdowns, establishing himself as one the league’s best 50/50 receivers. And Toney is still young, showing his potential in a two-game span against New Orleans and Dallas, accruing a combined 16 catches for 267 yards in those matchups. If Barkley can even return to 75% of the back he once was and this receiving duo can build chemistry with  Jones, he has the foundational skill player fireworks to support him. 

That remains a major if, so if the Giants release the now financially expendable Sterling Shepard, the team will need a new third receiver. Finding that in the draft or free agency will be a question for Schoen. If I were Schoen I would call upon my Buffalo connections once again and lure the reliable veteran hands of Emmanuel Sanders to East Rutherford, New Jersey. At age 34, Sanders was productive for Buffalo, catching 42 balls for 626 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games this season. 

Finding that third receiving option, a true safety net, whether it be a tight end or a receiver like Sanders is the next step. The Giants can retain both Barkley and backup Devontae Booker, who was productive in a consistent role for New York this year. But, the more consistent options a quarterback has available to him, the better and adding a reliable veteran presence to complement Toney and Golladay is the type of under the radar move that aids an offense. 

The Right OC

The biggest issue for the Giants in Jones’ tenure has been the coaching. When he was drafted the team had an offensive minded head coach in Pat Shurmur. Well, that failed, so the team brought in the hard-nosed Joe Judge to change the culture and bring the best out of this team. Even worse than the Giants 2021 campaign which landed them the fifth overall pick was the offensive coordinators Judge gave to Jones. Former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett  proved his doubters correct as the Giants unoriginal play-calling combined with its putrid blocking left the young quarterback vulnerable and victim of a constant blitzkrieg of pass rushers hunting him. 

Schoen lured his Bills compatriot, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, to lead the Giants into a new era. Daboll was arguably the most attractive head coaching candidate on the market and nobody saw his potential more than Schoen, who was their first hand as Daboll worked miracles with the Bills offense over the past two seasons, playing a crucial part of  Josh Allen’s ascension into a top-five quarterback.  

Snagging Daboll is a coup for the Giants and the perfect statement to begin Schoen’s tenure and naturally, Ken Dorsey, the Bills quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator would be the top candidate in my mind to take over the offensive coordinator role. However, he could be the successor for Daboll in Buffalo as well. 

The next best candidate in my mind is Pep Hamilton. Having worked with Justin Herbert and Andrew Luck in the youthful points of their career, he has seen true talent but also been a part of maximizing it. 

This year Hamilton helped work magic as the Texans quarterback coach as rookie Davis Mills progressed from a raw third-round pick thrown into the fire too early to a competent quarterback who looked comfortable by the end of the season. This resume speaks for itself, as well as showing an understanding of the quarterback position. Hamilton has the experience, even serving as an XFL head coach and general manager, he just needs the chance to maximize talent in a new role and the Giants would be a great spot for him. 

While the improved roster and health is important, the place Jones has been most often failed before the game even started. The Giants offensive gameplans have been setting up their young quarterback for failure and as important as the health of the receiving core and an improved offensive line is, none of it matters if Schoen and Daboll can’t find the correct offensive coordinator to lead the offense into Jones’ make-or-break fourth season. 

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