The Giants are coming off a rather forgettable season.
Daniel Jones hopes they don’t. Forget it, that is.
As he heads into a year in which he will take the reins of the organization and spend his first offseason as the franchise quarterback, Jones said he does not want to wipe clean the memory of the 4-12 campaign. Rather, he wants it to drive the Giants forward.
“If we want to get where we want to go, we’re going to have to use this, to learn from this,” he said this past week. “Otherwise the season will have been pointless. We need to use it to motivate us, use it to improve going into the offseason.”
Jones had a very strong rookie season, throwing 24 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in 12 starts. He had three games with at least 300 passing yards, four touchdown passes and zero picks, and he threw five touchdown passes in one game against the Redskins.
He finished his rookie season with a higher passer rating than Aaron Rodgers, a higher completion percentage than Tom Brady and more touchdown passes per start than Rodgers, Brady, Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes.
The biggest difference between Jones and those other quarterbacks?
They’re still playing.
When asked how quickly the Giants can go from one of the worst teams in the NFL to a contender, general manager Dave Gettleman said: “It all depends on how quickly the puppies come along.”
Jones’ growth undoubtedly will have the most impact on that timeline. If he can transform from the most prominent puppy to the lead dog in the next few months, the Giants probably will have a good chance to make a playoff push in 2020.
That was Eli Manning’s parting lesson to Jones before he officially handed over the title as face of the franchise this past week.
“I think he had some unbelievable games,” Manning said. “Obviously, he had some tough games. I think in the future it will be good for him. I remember after my rookie year it was terrible and it wasn’t very good. Then the next year we go 11-5 and win the division. I think he will be so much more comfortable going into next season. I know there will be a new coach and maybe he will be learning new things. He’ll have that presence and have that experience and he will be better for it.”
The biggest obstacle to Jones’ success in 2019 — and therefore the Giants’ — was his proclivity for fumbling. He put the ball on the ground 18 times and the opponent recovered it 11 times. That’s more of a glaring issue than a nitpick, and it figures to be one of the focuses of his offseason work.
“He had a bad run, and in later games as you watch the pressure around him or whatever, you see him feel it better and have two hands on the ball,” Gettleman said. “He cut it down the last handful of games. He knows it, he’s going to work on it. He’s that kind of a kid.”
Jones said he will spend most of the offseason in the New York area having close proximity to the facility and the new coaches. He won’t be able to talk schemes and football with them directly, but he’ll certainly have the ability to do some studying on his own. And when the Giants report back for the start of their official offseason in early April, Jones figures to be ready to lead the team … somewhere.
“Where we are right now as a team, where I am right now as a player, is not where we need to be,” Jones said. “I feel that. I think this team feels that.”
They get three months to fix it.