Daniel Jones turned 22 years old on Monday. There wasn’t any big bash or momentous celebration, but because it did happen during a holiday weekend while the Giants were not practicing, he got a chance to explore his new hometown. Rather than sit cooped up in the New Jersey motel where he’s staying these days, he made a couple of trips into Manhattan. And a funny thing happened while the future king inspected his realm.
He wasn’t hounded. Wasn’t noticed. Was barely recognized. Jones may represent ambition and optimism for the Giants, but this weekend he was just another Southern sightseer who strolled too slowly while gawking at the skyscrapers. It’s hard to imagine any other quarterback taken with a top 10 pick walking through his new fan base with such anonymity.
So far, the face of the franchise is virtually unrecognizable.
Except, of course, in how it resembles the one that has been the team’s official countenance for the past 15 years. About the only splash Jones has made off the football field stems from his uncanny similarities to Eli Manning. Since the two have been practicing side by side for a few weeks, it’s been easy to compare the way their statures, their movements, and even their expressions seem to be in sync. Social media has feasted on the unavoidable lookalike angle.
As the quarterbacks continue to work together this season, the plan is for them to start acting and playing alike, too. That process has already begun.
“There’s a lot of similarities in their stature and how they handle themselves,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said after Tuesday’s OTA workout. “Personality-wise, I would say in some ways they are similar as we get to know Daniel Jones and his personality more. They are very calm in their approach, but they’re very fiery under the covers. I don’t think you want to misrepresent either one of them. They are both very fiery about making sure things are done properly. They demand it of themselves and they demand it of the people around them.”
Jones’ task this season is to learn as much as he can from Manning about being a professional, being an NFL quarterback, being a Giant. Being, well, a Manning. The first few weeks of that study have gone well.
“I think you can learn a lot from him on the field, just from a scheme standpoint,” Jones said Tuesday. “He has done it for a long time, he knows that stuff. To me, a lot of it is in his routine and his daily preparation and how he prepares for practice, how he reviews practice and learns from practice. I think just that routine and just learning from that, being able to watch him every day, to me has been the most helpful.”
Jones said the biggest lesson he’s extracted from his observations has been regarding the way Manning studies the “script” before practice. It’s basically a list of the plays that the team will be running. At Duke, Jones said, he’d just go out there and run the plays that were called at a moment’s notice. Now, he’s appreciating the value of preparing for each of those reps.
“You really want to have an awareness of what everyone is doing,” Jones said. “Getting the script beforehand and understanding that, preparing for that, I think, is different.”
Shurmur said Jones is “getting better every day.”
“Daniel’s approach, he is here all the time just like all the other quarterbacks. He is doing everything in his power to get right.”
“That’s the goal, to progress every day,” Jones said. “I think I am. I’ve learned a lot and we are installing just about every day. The challenge is to progress every day and I think I have done that.”
If he continues, maybe by his 23rd birthday he’ll be recognized on the streets of New York City. And not for the quarterback he is mimicking both purposefully and inadvertently, but for his own place in the town’s sports hierarchy.
Then again, if he really is anything like Manning in that capacity, and all indications are he is, he’ll yearn for the under-the-radar days like the ones he got to enjoy this weekend.