Daniel Jones grinned.
After months of, at times, flailing through the process of learning the offense that his new coaches brought here, not only to turn the team around but to salvage him; after weeks of testing and retesting just about every possible combination of route and motion in the dense playbook; after three preseason games in which only the most basic elements of the system were touched; and now that he and the team have had over a week to actually gameplan for an opponent and pare down that tome of plays into a digestible menu of what they think of as their greatest hits album, the quarterback was asked a simple question.
Will the offense we see on Sunday in Tennessee be better than what we have already witnessed this spring and summer?
“That’s the idea,” he said.
Now to make that grin last.
The Giants will partake in what has sadly become the biannual unveiling of an overhauled organization when they face the Titans on Sunday.
Just two years after the last debut of a new era, which had come two years after the previous one, which – well, you get the idea – Brian Daboll will try to do what none of his four predecessors (four if you want to count interim head coach, and at this point why wouldn’t we?) were able to accomplish.
Not only does he aim to survive in his role into a third season, but along with new general manager Joe Schoen, turn the team into a perennial title contender after a decade of futility.
To take the first steps toward that goal, plenty of elements have been instituted, philosophies tweaked, parameters expanded or tightened. But the most important thing Daboll brought with him from his time as a successful coordinator in Buffalo, the reason he is where he is at this very moment, is the offense.
And on Sunday we all get our first true look at it.
“I’m not going to make a prediction,” Daboll said of what those initial impressions will be. “But I’d just say [this week] you have more time to really study the things that you’re going to do in a game. You’re focusing on certain players. It’s a lot more detailed in terms of what you’re trying to get accomplished. Daniel, since I’ve been around him, I think he’s got the right approach really every week… I’ve been impressed with him.”
This is Jones’ fourth year in the NFL and his third different offense. That’s more new systems than Eli Manning had to learn in his 16 seasons with the Giants. It’s why team co-owner John Mara infamously said this past winter the Giants had done “everything possible to screw this kid up.”
Here, then, is the life-preserver Mara has decided to fling to Jones in the last year of his rookie contract. One last set of new ideas and concepts to see if they can mesh with his playing style. One final chance to float or perish. If Jones can’t utilize it, the Giants will find someone else who can.
This offense, which takes a lot from Daboll and Buffalo and a little from Kansas City thanks to the addition of new coordinator and play-caller Mike Kafka, has allowed other young quarterbacks (Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes) and their teams to thrive. It’s a proven winner now being tested by a quarterback and an organization that has been anything but.
“I think it’s a versatile system,” Jones said. “I think it allows the quarterback to do a lot in the pocket, outside the pocket, in the run game. It allows us to get into advantageous looks depending on what the defense does, easily getting in and out of plays. I think from all those perspectives, it’s very quarterback-friendly for any quarterback.”
Perhaps it is friendly enough to save Jones’ career with the Giants. Perhaps it can save the Giants themselves, too.
On Sunday we’ll all finally get to see.