Daniel Jones turned 24 on Thursday. The Giants probably did not get him a present. But that’s OK. They’ve been plying him with gifts for the past few months.
Each time they added an offensive playmaker this offseason – and it happened quite a number of times, from the landing of No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay as their top prize in free agency to the selection of speedy wideout Kadarius Toney with a first-round pick in the draft – the team made it clear that the acquisition was to make Jones better.
Yes, they would help the team. Sure, there were other benefits to their arrivals. But the main focus of the past few months in East Rutherford has been on building an armory of diverse options around the young quarterback to whom the organization is unflinchingly dedicated to seeing make a huge jump in his third NFL season.
"I think surrounding Daniel with more weapons was certainly a priority coming into this offseason," co-owner John Mara said earlier this spring.
Jones, though, insists that the offensive overhaul has nothing to do with him personally.
"I'm not sure I necessarily saw it that way," Jones said on Thursday. "Any time we're bringing guys in, however we do it, I think it's about the team, it's about building something as a group together, trying to build for everyone in that locker room. I certainly felt that way as we went about it through the offseason."
Whether that is the deep-down truth or not, only Jones knows for sure. He did play a role in helping the Giants sign Golladay, reaching out to the receiver during his multi-day visit to the team’s facility. And it’s hard to imagine he didn’t give a little fist pump when the Giants drafted Toney. Add Kyle Rudolph and John Ross to the influx and just about any quarterback in the league would be thrilled about the possibilities afforded him.
"It’s exciting for all of us to have an opportunity to bring in a couple new guys, build on what we already have," Jones said. "We have a lot of good playmakers in the building. You add a few pieces, it's exciting. Looking forward to getting out on the field."
Perhaps it was the last part that tempered Jones’ enthusiasm. While he was running the offense in Thursday’s OTA, Golladay and Toney and Rudolph and Ross were all absent from the voluntary workout. Jones got a chance to work with Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Darius Slayton, all receiving targets he has built an on-field relationship with over his first two seasons. The new guys? They’ll be around eventually – the Giants have a mandatory minicamp from June 8-10 – but aren’t now.
"It's a good opportunity to get on the field, get together, get with coaches," Jones said of the OTAs. "Everyone starts hearing the verbiage, hearing the system again, practicing lining up, getting in and out of the huddle, start developing some rapport on the field with the guys."
Jones said he knows those not physically attending the workouts are working on their own.
"I think the focus for each of us [this spring] was on ourselves, on improving our technique, our fundamentals," he said. "Doing what we can so that when we did get the opportunity to get together now and later on in camp we're ready to hit the ground running."
That chance to finally be on the field with all the presents he’s received the past few months? It will have to be a belated birthday gift for Jones.