Why Tanking for Trevor Isn’t the Answer for the Giants
Though Daniel Jones has had his ups and downs in his first two seasons in the NFL, it isn’t time for the Giants to ignore his talent and tank to select Trevor Lawrence in next year’s draft.
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Let’s face the facts. The New York Giants are 2-7, dead last in the NFC (L)east. Quarterback Daniel Jones, expected to make a big leap in Year 2, has already thrown nine interceptions and fumbled the ball seven times, looking much like his rookie self. Admittedly, for a Big Blue faithful fan, nothing about this year has been pretty. Just when one part of the team starts to get better, another part messes it up.
That being said, it’s not time to give up on Jones. Week in and week out, Jones has shown he has the tools to be a star. He is the modern-day quarterback, a threat with his legs as well as in the air. In a Thursday Night Football matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jones exploded for an 80-yard rush, the longest rush for a quarterback in five years, in which he topped 21 miles per hour, the fastest speed for a quarterback since 2018. That rush could have been a touchdown, had it not been for Jones tripping over himself 10 yards from the end zone, a play emblematic of the Giants’ season. Jones remained calm despite his meme-worthy fall, and the drive still resulted in a Giants touchdown. For the rest of the game, the Giants played catch-up against the Eagles, and had it not been for the Giants tight end Evan Engram dropping a crucial, perfectly placed dime from Jones, they might have even gotten the win against the division leaders. Though Jones certainly hasn’t played up to expectations in 2020, the rest of his offense, most notably his offensive line, hasn’t done its part.
Jones’s primary weakness is his tendency to turn the ball over, but these problems aren’t unfixable by any means. The majority of his interceptions come down to his decision-making, not his talent. If the coaching staff can instill better instincts about when to hold onto the ball and take the sack or throw the ball out of bounds rather than force a longshot throw, Jones’s interception numbers will almost certainly plummet. In addition to throwing interceptions, it’s no secret that Jones fumbles the ball a lot. Over the offseason, he put on muscle, but ball security has continued to plague him. These woes can’t all fall upon the shoulders of Jones. Without star running back Saquon Barkley for much of his career and with a pitiful offensive line, Jones has seen tons of pressure and an overall feeble running game, forcing him to drop back much more than he would like. Though Jones certainly needs to improve his own turnover issues, it’s time for the Giants’ front office to build around him and give him the protection he needs.
In New York, players are likely scrutinized more than in any other media market in the nation. This constant pressure, especially for young players, leads to fans jumping to conclusions way too quickly. Many have called for Jones’s head and want the Giants to tank the rest of the season to pick Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first pick in next year’s NFL Draft. This is a massive overreaction to Jones’s issues in Year 2.
Jones is in his sophomore year in the league. He has played in just 22 games, and his second season is amidst a global pandemic. Historically, some of the best quarterbacks ever have struggled in their beginning stages in the league. Peyton Manning, for instance, threw 28 interceptions as a rookie. Daniel Jones threw 12 in his first season. Tom Brady, the GOAT himself, threw 18 touchdown passes in his first full year as a starter, while Jones tossed 24 in his rookie season—in two games fewer. I’m not saying Jones will be the next Brady or Manning (though I’m not exactly ruling that out either), but my point is that becoming a good starting quarterback takes time. In the modern-day NFL, young quarterbacks have been rushed into the starting job earlier, with mostly poor results prior to the season. As Jones matures, he has the potential to lead the Giants to glory.
Even if Jones’s talent isn’t enough to justify keeping him, betting on Lawrence would be a gamble. A quarterback change isn’t just a simple footnote. This would be a blockbuster move setting the organization two years back in its rebuilding mission. The prime years of stars like Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton could all go to waste, forcing the front office to make a total franchise overhaul. The most pragmatic solution for the team is to commit to Jones, giving him confidence in his team and letting him worry about improving, not about getting benched. Had the Giants benched a kid named Eli Manning after a rookie season where he finished with a 68 QB Rating, they likely never would have won two more Super Bowls.
Relax, Giants fans. Jones is the man.