ESPN’s Bill Barnwell is at it again. No, he’s not manufacturing some wild three-team trade proposal to send Aaron Rodgers to the New York Giants. Instead, this time he’s trying his hand at predicting which NFL players could break records in 2021 — and it just so happens that quarterback Daniel Jones is on that list. Unfortunately, his inclusion is for all the wrong reasons.
Over his 27-game career (26 starts) Jones has earned the moniker of turnover-prone, and rightfully so. Since entering the league in 2019, Jones has turned the football over more than any player in the league, stockpiling 39 total turnovers (22 interceptions and 17 lost fumbles).
Yet, while many people within the Giants’ organization are optimistic a second year in Jason Garrett’s system and a reworked offensive arsenal will help Jones turn the corner in 2021, Barnwell isn’t buying into the hype. In fact, he envisions a scenario where the quarterback’s turnover struggles become even viler, pegging Jones as the favorite to break the NFL’s fumble record this coming season.
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Is Jones Headed for Turnover-Happy Season?
“To put it politely, Jones has been a fumble factory for the Giants over his first two NFL seasons,” Barnwell wrote. “The former Duke quarterback led the league in fumbles in both 2019 (18) and 2020 (11) despite playing only 12 full games in 2019 and 13 last season. He has 29 fumbles in 25 career games; over a full 17-game season, that would prorate to 19.7, pushing Jones toward the record. And while Giants fans might be inclined to write off 2019 as an aberration of a rookie season, consider what happened with our runner-up [Carson Wentz].”
Of course, Wentz has constantly struggled with holding onto the football since being selected No. 2 overall in 2016, coughing it up a total of 58 times — most in the NFL. That is eight more fumbles than the next closest player on the list (Kirk Cousins), despite the fact that Wentz has played in 11 fewer games than Cousins over that span.
Interestingly enough, the current record for the most fumbles in an NFL season is 23, shared by Daunte Culpepper (2002) and former Giants quarterback Kerry Collins (2001) — one year removed from the team’s Super Bowl XXXV defeat.
Jones’ Growth Down the Stretch of 2020 & Outlook Moving Forward
As for Jones, the numbers speak for themselves, making him an easy target for such a selection. With that said, we will toss out a few glass half full statistics that may point towards Jones kicking his knack for turnovers in 2021.
While he did tie Derek Carr for the league-lead in fumbles with 11 this past season, three of his final five games were fumble-free. As for his 10 interceptions on the year, all but one of them came prior to Week 9.
Is it a coincidence that a large chunk of his struggles came when his then-No. 1 receiver and QB-friendly target, Sterling Shepard, was on the mend for four games and part of a fifth? Maybe. However, there’s likely a correlation between the fact that three of Jones’ five lowest quarterback rating marks for the year came without Shepard on the field.
Now, let’s add a few more pieces to the mix that could potentially make Jones’ job a tad less strenuous in 2021. There’s of course Kenny Golladay, who according to Pro Football Focus, is the league’s top contested-catch receiver in football since entering the league in 2017. The team also used their first-round pick on Kadarius Toney, whose elite quickness is made for the short-to-intermediate game. Oh, and then there’s that Saquon Barkley guy, whose 91 receptions as a rookie remain the ninth-most catches in a season by a running back in NFL history — making him an elite outlet option and security blanket when healthy.
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