Daniel Jones had one of the best first starts for a quarterback in NFL history. It thrust his profile from that of a backup and draft day reach into the kind of stardom that few ever get to experience.
His jersey became an instant best-seller. Fantasy football managers scrambled to claim him. Every sports network has shown reels and reels of his highlights since Sunday. It’s been a whirlwind for him, having been named starting quarterback of the Giants just a week ago Tuesday and already solidifying himself into that role. You may have noticed that Pat Shurmur was not once asked who will be starting against the Redskins on Sunday.
Now do it again.
Because in the NFL, there is no time to linger and enjoy the spoils of such a performance. Now that he’s raised the hopes of Giants fans who have spent the past several seasons wallowing in mediocrity (or worse), the next step is to deliver on that promise.
Jones joins a long line of young prodigies who have burst onto the scene here in New York and captured the imagination of America’s largest star-making factory. Not all of them were able to maintain their supernova status.
The streets of New York are littered with Jeremy Lin jerseys and Matt Harvey headlines, remnants of fizzled favorites who were unable to live up to their early hype. Some of their flameouts were no fault of their own, others self-inflicted tumbles down the ladder of public adoration.
There is no indication that Jones is headed for such a downward trajectory. Quite the opposite. Sunday’s performance felt as if it was just the start of an era.
Twenty-eight years ago a field goal attempt in the final seconds went wide right in a game in Tampa to give the Giants a Super Bowl win. That jubilation, however, also marked the end of something special. It wound up being the last game for Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick as coaches of the team.
Many of the veterans on that squad who had helped it form its identity, such as Mark Bavaro, never again played for the Giants. None of them ever played in another Super Bowl for the franchise.
Sunday’s field goal attempt that went wide right in Tampa — albeit in a different stadium built about 200 yards away from the old one — might share similar details with the Super Bowl one, but carry the exact opposite ramifications of that historic moment. Rather than punctuate an age, it could launch it. Rather than be the culmination of a chapter, it could be the turning of a new page.
All of which is contingent upon the 22-year-old rookie quarterback. He’ll have to do it without Saquon Barkley for the time being, and with a defense that has yet to hold an opponent to less than 28 points in a game. Only the Dolphins have allowed more points than the Giants. But he was able to overcome both of those handicaps for the comeback win in Tampa, which only added to his burgeoning legend.
So, play it again, Dan. And again and again.
Because the only thing New York loves more than a meteoric rise is a dramatic descent. And there is only one way to avoid that. Just keep winning.
Notes & quotes: The Giants re-signed Nate Stupar to bolster their inside linebacker depth after two losses to injury on Sunday left them with just two healthy players available. Starting middle linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and Tae Davis (concussion) both seem unlikely to be available for Sunday. Stupar was with the Giants last season and in this summer’s training camp. He’ll join rookie starter Ryan Connelly and veteran David Mayo at the position. TE Eric Tomlinson was cut to make room on the roster . . . The Giants did not add a running back on Tuesday, indicating they are likely to promote Jon Hilliman from the practice squad prior to Sunday’s game. With Saquon Barkley sidelined by an ankle injury, the Giants have only Wayne Gallman as a healthy full-time running back (fullback Eli Penny was a traditional running back in college). They did have veterans Benny Cunningham, Fozzy Whittaker and Zach Zenner in for workouts on Tuesday, per reports.