What a time to be alive. Daniel Jones, yes, that Daniel Jones, is lighting up the NFL. While his improved play had mostly gone under the radar on a national level due to the Giants‘ woeful 0-3 start, a comeback overtime victory over the Saints in Week 4 has thrust the third-year signal-caller firmly into the spotlight.
With a career-best 402-yard passing performance — including a perfect 5-for-5 overtime showing — the New York media outlet has been turned on its head. Jones’ retractors have gone into hiding, while Jones truthers are anointing him as the answer under center in East Rutherford. The fact of the matter is, four productive performances likely aren’t enough to cement Jones’ long-term faith in either direction. Still, there’s no denying that his hot start to 2021 has the former sixth overall pick trending in the right direction. So much so in fact, that Pro Football Focus — notorious for their propensity to undervalue the Giants — has Jones rated as the No. 2 quarterback in all of football.
“Don’t look now, but all of a sudden Danny Dimes is balling for the New York Giants. You didn’t believe it, but it’s actually happening,” said PFF’s Sam Monson. “The offensive line is playing well enough that Daniel Jones actually has a platform to succeed. Right now, the only quarterback with a better PFF grade over the course of the season is Tom Brady. Jones is playing fantastically and he’s taken another step forward which is a year-on-year progression. Now he’s got weapons to play with. He’s got an offensive line that’s letting him work. Daniel Jones and the New York Giants might actually be a serious team this season.”
Deep Dive into Jones’ Growth
Jones has averaged 343 total yards per game this season — an impressive jump from his 240.2 yards per game average in 2020. Of course, Jones’ rushing prowess will always skew those numbers some, as his 188 yards on the ground through the first four weeks are the third-most by a quarterback this season. However, while his feet may make Jones a fantasy darling, it’s the work he’s done with his arm that has those in the Giants organization optimistic they may have bet right on the Duke product.
Yes, his 88.0 passing grade being second to only Brady will snag some headlines and turn some heads, but it doesn’t come without cause. Jones has been far more efficient and smart with the football this season. Thus far he’s tossed four touchdowns to just one interception — a hail mary at the end of the first half vs. New Orleans. In fact, over his last 10 games, he’s thrown just two interceptions, the other coming off an Evan Engram drop. Over the past three weeks, Jones has completed a superb 69.1% of his passes. His 66.7% completion percentage for the season is a 4.2% jump from his previous career high. Furthermore, his current mark outpaces the likes of Josh Allen, Ryan Tannehill, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Derek Carr, just to name a few.
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Yet, while his completion percentage may paint a player with limitations to stretch the field, that is most certainly not an issue for Jones — although it may take a bit more convincing for a stubborn Jason Garrett to truly loosen the reigns. Against the Saints, Jones attempted 11 passes that traveled 15-plus yards through the air. He completed eight of them for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Impressive? Yes. A surprise? Far from it.
As Bobby Skinner of Talkin’ Giants highlighted, Jones has proven himself to be one of the best deep-ball passers the league has to offer over the past two seasons.
The Giants have a long way to go to claw themselves back into the NFC East race after a dreadful showing in September. However, if Jones’ play thus far is the new norm in New York, Big Blue has a chance to make things interesting this season. A Week 5 victory over the division-leading Dallas Cowboys would certainly help.