Among the many, many, many things the Giants love about Daniel Jones is his composure. He’s not the kind of player who gets rattled, not the type of guy who will let emotions interfere with his play.
Talk to the coaches and scouts who did their studies of him before the draft, and they talk as much about the plays that didn’t work out for him in college — the drops, the poor routes, the missed blocks — and his reactions to them as they do the highlight reel ones. His ability to shrug things off and move forward is already at the level of his mentor here in the NFL, even-keeled Eli Manning.
It’s Jones’ disposition as much as anything that drew the Giants to him.
This week, though, they saw a glimpse of the flip-side of that calm. Jones, who had gone the first week of training camp without throwing an interception, was picked off early in the Tuesday workout. He tried to hit Garrett Dickerson down the seam in a red-zone drill and rookie cornerback Cory Ballentine was able to cover the tight end and catch the ball.
That one brought some fire from the first-year quarterback.
“He was [upset],” Pat Shurmur said, adding: "Yeah, I’m good with that.”
That’s not to say Jones threw a tantrum on the field or was slamming his helmet on the turf. In fact, he finished the series of reps with a touchdown pass, rolling to his right and hitting the wide open Paul Perkins. But the interception definitely bugged him.
“I certainly wasn’t happy about it,” he said on Wednesday.
He tried to explain why that one in particular set him off, noting that it was in the red zone with a chance to score points and he turned the ball over. But the real reason for the anger on that miscue, and not the others that have popped up in the spring and summer of Jones’ first few months with the Giants, seems to be that this one was on him.
The drop by Bennie Fowler on the first day of practice last week? The multiple drops by Darius Slayton back in rookie camp? The mis-run routes and the inaccurate depths and the ill-timed cuts that have been seen from time to time in the Jones-led second-team offense so far? Barely a blink from Jones.
A pass in the end zone that was inches away from a beauty of a touchdown? Jones is seething. At least temporarily.
General manager Dave Gettleman called it “the ability to take responsibility,” and it’s one of Jones’ top traits.
“There was a game last year, Daniel threw a deep post to a wide receiver and the guy dropped it,” Gettleman said of Jones’ time at Duke. “After the game he was in the presser and they asked, ‘How do you feel about so-and-so dropping the ball?’ Daniel looked at them without even blinking and said, ‘I need to put it in a better place.’ He’ll stand up and do that. A lot of guys won’t.”
Jones did that on Wednesday.
“I can be quicker making the decision, put the ball a little higher in the back of the end zone,” he said of where he could have avoided the interception.
Jones insisted that he does have an intensity that not many people — including those with and around the Giants — have witnessed first-hand yet.
“I can get fired up,” he said. “Usually I have pretty good control of that and I think I do on the field, but yeah, when something like that [interception] happens, it kind of gets you going a little bit. But as long as it’s not taking away from how you’re playing, I think that’s natural.”
Shurmur said the interception was just part of a process for Jones.
“I look at it as that was an aggressive throw and you want that,” he said. “He may just put it in a better spot or whatever, put it in a spot where the defender can’t quite get it as well as Corey did . . . It’s aggressive, he took a shot at the end zone, it was a touchdown-to-checkdown mentality, and it was an interception. You learn from it and you move on.”
That’s what this training camp is about, after all. It’s a big, six-week lab for Jones to get him ready for the regular season and the career in front of him.
“That’s how I’m going to learn,” Jones said of taking chances and occasionally throwing interceptions.
It just doesn’t mean he has to like it.