The Giants have a Daniel Jones dilemma. Those who think New York needs to pick a new quarterback after the 2020 season have plenty of evidence to support their claim as do those who believe Jones can be a foundational franchise piece if said franchise can create an environment more conducive to success.
While no quarterback plays the exact same every week of course, Jones' range of performance has been amazingly volatile. The No. 6 overall selection in the 2019 draft has been a conglomeration of awful and phenomenal, oftentimes in the same game, on the same series, or even the same drive. He's been good at taking what the defenses give him too, but it's the game-swinging plays -- both good and bad -- that separate the busts from the stars at quarterback.
Before what is an embarrassingly important NFC East game for the 1-5 Giants and 1-4-1 Eagles, let's fully dissect Jones' game.
Not a whole heck of a lot. The Giants are currently dead last in Football Outsiders' offensive DVOA, the most all-encompassing team efficiency metric in the football analytics community.
However, after watching Jones' 2020 film to date, I don't believe he's played as poorly as this stat line:
|Completion||Yards Per Attempt||TD||INT||QB Rating||QBR|
Consider the 10th-highest drop rate (6.5%) among qualifying quarterbacks and the fact that Jones has been pressured on 44.2% of his drop backs heading into Week 7, the league's third-highest percentage, and it paints an evidentiary picture for the pro-Jones crowd.
His film does plainly show a tough-as-nails quarterback willing to repeatedly stand in and deliver the football a millisecond before taking a shot to the ribs. And on some of those plays, after noticing where the ball went, I was wowed by the pinpoint accuracy and anticipation.
And while it hasn't been a key part of New York's offense, Jones has been rather good down the field. He's attempted just 10 passes of 20-plus yards but has completed six of those tosses for 179 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. More fuel for the pro-Jones guys and girls. Eat it up.
What Isn't Working
Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. That was the bad chapter in the book on Jones from his rookie season.
And I needed a way to illustrate how bad it's been through 19 games in the NFL for Jones. So, I combined interceptions and dropped interceptions together (quarterback's fault) then subtracted the plays that resulted in interceptions on throws tipped by receivers or defenders (not a quarterback's fault) to come to a figure I'm calling "Theoretical INTs." From there, all fumbles (not just fumbles lost) were added together to get "Theoretical Turnovers."
Below is a chart of the five quarterbacks with the highest amount of Theoretical TOs since the start of 2019. I sorted by drop backs per Theoretical TO to make it level playing field for each passer.
|Theoretical TOs||Drop Backs||Drop Backs Per Every Theoretical TO|
My goodness. Catnip for the anti-Jones assembly. Rate-wise, Jones only trails Winston in this alarming statistic. For context, for the math majors out there, essentially, if Jones drop backs 45 times per game, on average he's putting the ball in harm's way on three occasions. Most quarterbacks I ran numbers on were well into the 20s and 30s. A few elite quarterbacks were in the 40s.
What is encouraging on this front for Jones is that his drop backs per theoretical TO rate is up to 22.9 this season after 13.7 in 2019 alone. Still, Jones is too careless with the football. Plus, it's not as if he's raked from a clean pocket when afforded one. The film showed a fair share of blatant misfires when in the eye of the tornado.
He's 29th in clean-pocket passer rating (84.9) and yards per attempt (6.54) in those situations. Those figures are nowhere near good enough. And while the frequency at which he's been pressured has probably led to some young quarterback shell shock for Jones, he's been disastrous with a defender bearing down on him -- 24th in pressured passer rating (51.2) and 22nd in yards per attempt (5.31) in those situations.
Jones has moxie. He throws a tight spiral from a quick release, and his high-end plays can be really high-end. But having watched all of his drop backs in the NFL thus far, I'm starting to form a concrete conclusion on Jones that he's the personification of quarterback purgatory and is bound to place the Giants in that purgatory.
He's not quite naturally calm enough drifting away from pressure inside the pocket but not exactly athletic enough to be a consistent play-maker with his legs when scrambling. He doesn't brilliantly process a second ahead of the defense but can throw receivers open. He's not surgically accurate but will give you tight-window tosses from dire situations. The ball can jump out of his hand, but it's not strong enough to bail him out when he's late on a throw.
In an absolutely exquisite situation, Jones could be a top 15, maybe top 10 quarterback. Unfortunately for him, his situation with the Giants is far from exquisite. If the organization genuinely believes it can reconstruct what has become a very porous offensive line and inject talented youth to the receiver group after Darius Slayton, then another year with Jones in New York wouldn't be completely nuts.
But, that type of overhaul typically takes more than one offseason, and unless something drastically changes in a hurry, Jones' limitations and turnover-proneness indicate the Giants should probably look for another quarterback in 2021.
(All advanced stats courtesy of TruMedia unless otherwise noted)