Jason Garrett has a "Fight" T-shirt.
It’s gray. It has the word printed across the front in the same font that appears in the Giants logo. He wore it, ironically enough, at Tuesday’s practice when a brawl broke out among the players. And sometimes it has to go through the wash.
Which is why on Thursday Garrett wore a blue shirt and used a magic marker to write the word "Fight" on the front of it, just under the neckline.
It’s a word that apparently means a lot to Garrett this season, one he said he reflected on throughout the offseason.
"The best players I’ve been around, the best coaches I’ve been around, are people who fight," the offensive coordinator said. "We talk to our team about that a lot. The way we talk about the word ‘fight’ is fight to be the best in everything you do. Fight to live up to the highest standard, fight to get the job done and fight for each other. We think that’s important, so we try to instill that in our team … If you think about the people in your life who you admire most, they fight, they compete, they battle, they try to be their best regardless of what the circumstances are."
Then he added:
"We believe our quarterback is one of those guys."
Daniel Jones, fighter.
That took on a different definition earlier this week when Jones inserted himself into the middle of the now infamous melee that ended Tuesday’s practice.
"I didn’t ever jump into a fight like that, absolutely not," Garrett said of his playing days.
But it extends beyond that one instance.
"Daniel is this guy from Duke who really presents himself beautifully," Garrett said of Jones’s straight-laced, clean-cut demeanor. "But deep down he’s a really, really tough competitor. He loves ball. His physical toughness and his mental toughness are outstanding. He’s a fun, exciting guy to be around and he’s a fun, exciting guy to coach because of that. He loves ball, you can see the competitive juices flowing."
That’s one of the reasons why the Giants believe that Jones will make a huge jump in this, his third NFL season.
"He’s a big guy, he’s strong, he has a good arm and he’s really smart, so that’s a great start," quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski said. "But the thing I admire most about him is that he is so darn driven. You can take the physical skill set which you need, which is important, but when you multiply that with his brains and his desire to want to get everything right every time … I don’t know much about his personal life but I’m convinced he studies his [butt] off."
Training camp started out slowly for Jones, but Tuesday’s practice seemed to be a turning point for him. Not only did he take part in the fight, he completed every competitive pass he threw that day. Since then things have been clicking much more for him.
Schuplinski said he never was worried or found himself impatient over Jones’ early struggles in camp. He said it was mostly due to the majority of the drills being in the red zone where things could not necessarily open up. Once the team started focusing on the middle of the field, Jones got better. And that’s helped him in the red zone of late, too.
"He just seems to be going through the process a lot faster," Schuplinski said. "He’s more comfortable in there."
For the Giants to have success this season, Jones will have to remain comfortable.
"Because he goes about it the right way, because he’s always so prepared and he has physical tools, we’re just going to keep trying to give him those experiences," Garrett said. "We’re trying to put him in an environment where he’s comfortable. We’ve got some young players around him who are growing and they’re all growing together, and that’s a positive thing and an exciting thing."
Until then, Garrett will keep wearing his "Fight" shirts.
Or, as he may eventually want to start calling them, his Daniel Jones jerseys.