The Draft Choice Heard Around the World: Daniel Jones

Grief is broken down into 5-stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Here is the break down those stages and correlate them into the reaction most New York Giants fans experienced with the selection of Daniel Jones, back in April 2019.

Denial is often a defense mechanism that is our body’s normal reaction to try to normalize something that we deem overwhelming.

Anger is typically where the numbing effects of our denial begin to wear off, so we search for something or someone to blame- which often results in us lashing out.

The Bargaining or ‘what if’ stage, is what provides us a temporary escape from pain and provides us with a feeling of hopefulness. This can often lead to feelings of optimism and at times give people time to adjust to the reality of the situation.

Depression, this not the kind you associate with mental illness- this is the kind of depression that is often associated with a personal loss of some sort. Sadness and lack of motivation or caring are symptoms commonly related to this stage of grief.

Lastly, we come to Acceptance. This can be one of two things; either we accept the reality of the situation in which we originally found ourselves grieving over, or we come to find happiness from within the situation in which our grief originated.  Let’s take a look:

Denial:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane. April 25, 2019, at the NFL Draft in Nashville, TN to be exact. Roger Goodell sauntered his way across the stage to the podium as millions of fans anxiously awaited his next announcement. He glanced down at the New York Giants draft card he had clutched in his hand and then proceeded to utter a twenty-word decree that would send an entire fan base crumbling to their knees. T-W-E-N-T-Y little words are all it took to completely shatter the hopes and dreams of millions of fans. “With the sixth pick in the 2019 draft, the New York Giants select…Daniel Jones…quarterback Duke.”

The pain and agony of the fan base were felt instantaneously. Roar’s of boos and jeers rained down from the thousands of fans in attendance at the New York Giants draft party in Met Life Stadium. Twitter was flooded with memes and cynical posts from fans and critics alike, all deriding the audacity of the decision to make this pick. There were countless reaction videos being posted all over social media and YouTube, showing us their vexation for the pick as it happened in real-time. The biggest huckleberry of all the people’s dismay? None other than New York Giants general manager, Dave Gettleman.

Anger:

At the time, it didn’t matter what explanation or insight he tried to provide as to why he made the pick. The “people” wanted blood and he was going to be ridiculed and greeted with great derision. Fans and pundits alike made a mockery of the pick and continuously questioned if he was even qualified to be making these types of decisions. Gettleman was criticized on television and radio shows, with some people even calling for his job. None of this seemed to faze him- regardless of what anyone ever said about him or the pick.

He never wavered or strayed from the fact that he believed this was the right pick for this franchise. Much to the chagrin of many, he flat out did not care what anybody outside of the organization thought. Dave Gettleman stood ten-toes-down and took everybody’s best shots like he was a granite-chinned prizefighter.

Bargaining:

By the time training camp rolled around, people were still throwing slings and arrows his way. However, Dave Gettleman remained unfazed. Finally, one hot and humid August day, things suddenly began to change. Fans and critics alike were found with an overwhelming feeling of optimism. Seemingly out of nowhere, the fanbase started hearing things like- how well Daniel Jones was performing at practice, or how quickly he was picking up the playbook. Daniel was doing so well, that people in the media began to speculate that there were reports of a potential quarterback competition brewing.

Although Pat Shurmur dismissed the rumors and Daniel Jones’s insistence on it being Eli’s team- it became apparent that the competition was a lot closer than many fans believed. Daniel Jones had now earned the respect of his teammates, and the coaching staff was taking notice. Video clips of DJ connecting on a beautiful pass with one of his receivers, or him making an athletic play with his legs in practice- followed by the entire team yelling and cheering for him, all of a sudden began surfacing on the internet.

Suddenly, little by little, the negative articles were popping up less and less- and little by little, most of those same critics were no longer criticizing Dave Gettleman over the airwaves. As a matter of fact, things began changing so dramatically on that front, that after only three measly preseason games, you could almost hear a pin drop on the negativity side of the Daniel Jones front. I mean, what could the nay-sayers possibly say at this point?

Preseason

Jones played very well in his three appearances. So much that he made history. He completed 25 of 30 passes (83.3%), for 369 yards, 2 touchdowns with 0 interceptions, to the tune of a 140.1 passer rating. Jones had just put in the best preseason for a rookie quarterback since the 2006 season. I know- I know, it’s only the preseason. A lot of players that perform well in the preseason, wind up flopping under the bright lights of real NFL action. You can’t tell anything from how a player performs in games that don’t count… Or can you?

The Change

It only took Pat Shurmur and the front office personnel only two games in 2019 to know one thing. That they had seen enough from Eli Manning. Giants’ team brass knew they endured a young team and understood that the Giants were a long way from competing. Following the Giants 28-14 week-2 loss to the Buffalo Bills, then head coach Pat Shurmur stated that he had a ‘gut feeling for change’. On the ensuing Monday, Shurmur placed phone calls to the general manager, Dave Gettleman, as well as team president and owner, John Mara. He expressed his views on the situation, and together, they made the decision to move forward with Daniel Jones as their new starting quarterback.

In doing so, the Giants as an organization were declaring that the future is now, knowing full well that they couldn’t turn back from here. The Giants quickly ascended to a 2-2 overall record. Daniel Jones immediately impressed the football world and provided Dave Gettleman with the reassurance that he looked for. After back-to-back wins, Daniel’s career was off to a fast start. Games in which we saw him turn an 18-point halftime deficit into a dramatic fourth quarter come from behind victory, followed by an absolute drudging of the then, Washington Redskins.

Depression:

After coming out of the gates in a flash, the franchise and it’s fanbase would see these more jovial times subsequently come to end. The Giants would hit a bit of a rough patch, dropping their next eight straight games. Although the quarterback usually gets all the praise when his team wins and the scrutiny when they lose, some of these losses couldn’t possibly be put all on the shoulders of the Giants young signal-caller.

During their losing streak, in the four-game stretch, weeks 8-12 (Giants bye-week 11), where Daniel Jones threw 990 passing yards, 11-touchdowns, and 1-interception. In two of those games, Daniel had passer ratings of 124.2 and 121.7, with a combined 8-TD and 0-INT. Simply put, you just can’t lay those sorts of losses at the feet of a rookie QB. Especially when the teams’ defense allows the 29th most yards from scrimmage in the entire NFL.

Daniel Jones didn’t play one single game all season where he had all his starting skill position players on the field at once, and his offensive line possessed the worst offensive tackle duo in the whole league. The offensive line ranked first and tenth in the league in pressures allowed, and they led the league as a duo. In which both tackles surrendered a total of 97-combined pressures.

Although the fanbase is labeled as harsh, New York sports fans are some of the brightest, most loyal fans on the planet. Many Giant fans felt the losing would never end. So much that Giants fans felt the organization sentenced them to a lifetime in top-5 pick purgatory. Many have seen some of the absolute best players at their positions the NFL had to offer come and go over the years. However, regardless, it seemed like the Giants could never figure out a way to put it all together. Giants fans felt the same way again. Despite all of Daniel’s great performances, the Giants still endured a losing season.

Acceptance:

Now I know many are going to talk about the fumbling problem, and rightfully so. You can’t talk about Jones’ rookie season without mentioning his fumbling issue. He led the league in fumbles lost. This is an issue of prodigious proportions. The current coaching staff is currently working to address the issue.

As we have seen with Tiki Barber in the past, with the right fine-tuning, ball control issues can be fixed. Fumbles aside, Jones had one of the very finest rookie seasons we have ever seen. Here is his stat line for the 12 games he started in 2019:

  • 3,027 passing yards
  • 252.2 pass YPG
  • 62% completion percentage
  • 24-TD 12-INT
  • Passer rating of 87.7 (ranked 18th in the league)

Good for 18th in the league. His 2019 passer rating put him only one spot behind Tom Brady. Also in front of Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff, Sam Darnold, Aaron Rodgers, and Josh Allen.

His rating in 2018 would have put him ahead of QB’s like; Cam Newton, Matt Stafford, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Derek Carr, and aside from Baker Mayfield (93.7), every single member of the 2018 rookie quarterback class (Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen). In fact, of all the quarterbacks selected in the first round since 2013, only Mayfield (93.7) and Deshaun Watson (7-games/103.0) have had better passer ratings. Here’s a look at how some of those QB’s stack up:

Stats

      G/GS            Comp.%            Yards             YPG                TD/INT                Passer Rating
Daniel Jones             13/12                 61.9                     3027               252.2                  24/12                          87.7
Kyler Murray            16/16                 64.4                    3722                232.6                 20/12                          87.4
Dwayne Haskins      9/7                    58.6                    1365                195.0                  9/7                              76.1
Baker Mayfield         14/14                 63.7                    3725                266.0                27/14                           93.7
Sam Darnold             13/13                  57.7                    2865               220.3                 17/15                           77.6
Josh Allen                   12/11                  52.8                    2074               188.5                 10/12                           67.9
Josh Rosen                 14/14                 55.2                     2278               162.7                 11/14                            66.7
Lamar Jackson         16/7                   58.2                     1201                151.5                 6/3                               84.5
Mitchell Trubisky    12/12                 59.4                     2193                182.7                7/7                               77.5
Deshaun Watson      7/7                    61.7                      1699                242.7                19/2                            103.0
Pat Mahomes              —                       —                         —                     —                    —                               —
Jared Goff                    7/7                    54.6                     1089                155.5                 5/7                              63.6
Carson Wentz            16/16                 66.4                     2621                163.8                16/14                          79.3
Eli Manning                9/7                   48.2                      1043                149.0                6/9                              55.4
Peyton Manning       16/16                56.7                      3739                233.6                26/28                         71.2

Takeaways

Daniel Jones put up one of the best statistical seasons from a rookie quarterback in recent memory. 2019 wasn’t just a great statistical year for DJ, is was a historic year as well. His accomplishments include:

  • Leading his team back from an 18-point halftime deficit to beat the Buccaneers on the road in his first career start
  • Went into Foxboro during week 6, in his fourth career start.
  • Threw for a touchdown against New England Patriots. A team that had not allowed a single passing touchdown on the entire season. New England possessed the league’s #1 defense
  • Won an overtime game on the road
  • Threw a game-winning TD pass in an overtime game
  • Set a handful of teams passing records
  • Falling 3 TD passes shy of the all-time rookie record for TD passes in a season. Despite starting fewer games than the record holder
  • Set the rookie record for most 4 total TD games with 0 interceptions
  • Tied Deshaun Watson and Fran Tarkenton for the rookie record for the most 4 passing TD games with 0 interceptions
  • Became the first rookie QB in NFL history to throw 350 yards for 5 TD, and 0 INT in a single game
  • Took over for a Hall Of Fame QB and displayed leadership qualities and maturation beyond his years

Conclusion:

The 2019 season was clearly extraordinary on a multitude of fronts. It seems Daniel Jones may have exceeded expectations on almost every level possible. The biggest growth he exhibited may be what he was able to achieve in between his ears. Daniel Jones’s on-field maturation process was nothing shy of incredible.

His command of the huddle and at the line of scrimmage were exceptional, to say the least. The ability he showed to diagnose opposing defenses and check into safer plays when necessary, is something many quarterbacks never achieve. These attributes not only showed up big on film but on the stat sheet as well- as evidence by his record-breaking number of games in which he scored at least four total touchdowns with zero interceptions.

Jones displayed amazing intangibles in 2019. The qualities showed looked similar to those found among the most elite quarterbacks in the league. It is safe to say that the future appears to be very bright for Daniel Jones and the Giants. For right now, at least. Right now it is too soon to tell. However, I think it’s safe to say that Dave Gettleman made the right call back in April 2019. When it is all said and done, Gettleman will have the last laugh.

 

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