by Adam Nardelli @adamnardelli
The Giants head into 2019 with some of the lowest expectations they’ve had in several years. Maybe you’ve found yourself with a bit less excitement for the upcoming season than in years past. I’m here to help you find something to hang your hat on with training camp just a few days away.
Big Blue had expectations through the roof heading into the last two seasons. In 2017 they were coming off an 11-5 season and a playoff appearance. Last year, of course, they drafted Saquon Barkley and had a healthy Odell Beckham Jr to begin the year. The Giants were supposed to be serious contenders in the NFC.
Instead, in each year the season was essentially over by mid-October and the only thing to look forward to was the draft in six months.
Fans were sold a bag of fallacies, made to believe that with the right pieces around Eli Manning the Giants could make a deep playoff run. However, with the trading away of Odell Beckham Jr., a defense in clear rebuild mode, and the drafting of a quarterback early in the first round, the playoffs might not be in the cards for 2019, and that’s okay.
A look at the Future:
If the season goes sideways quick, Giants fans have something to hold onto, Daniel Jones. Drafting a quarterback with the sixth overall pick should now completely change the mindset of all Giants fans. It’s no longer just about 2019 for this franchise.
The Jones Factor:
Let’s run through a scenario. If the Giants have a similar start to 2019 that they’ve had the last couple of years, you don’t have to tell yourself the season is over and there is nothing to look forward to. If Daniel Jones were to start, say, from week six on…that’s when the real season starts. Getting Daniel Jones live game experience might be the most important thing the Giants can achieve this year.
Supposing that Jones gets the opportunity to start multiple games, it’s not going to be all pretty. It never is with a young quarterback. More importantly, seeing steady progress from Jones as the season moves along is what counts.
Daniel Jones starting would also allow you to watch Giants games in a vastly different manner. We know who Eli Manning is, what throws he can make, what his limitations are at this point in his career, etc. We have no idea who Daniel Jones is as an NFL quarterback, and that’s actually exciting. A simple intermediate throw that Eli Manning has made a thousand times would excite me if the throw were to come from Daniel Jones. A decision to not throw downfield into traffic but instead dump the ball off to Saquon Barkley would thrill me “if” it was Daniel Jones behind the throw.
Little things that we take for granted from Eli…I wouldn’t take for granted coming from Jones. Simple throws and good decision making are all part of the learning process for a young QB, and seeing them come to fruition would be encouraging.
Rookie Contracts = flexibility:
Here’s something else that may perk your mood heading into the season. One of the most valuable assets a franchise can have is a quarterback on a rookie contract. It makes it much easier for a franchise to re-sign critical players and add high-level free agents that can have an immediate impact. Just look at the Rams. They signed Ndamukong Suh, added the salaries of Aquib Talib and Marcus Peters via trade, and signed Todd Gurley to a record-breaking long-term contract all in one off-season. How did they do that? Because Jared Goff is still on his rookie contract and comes at an extremely reasonable price for a quarterback.
And how did it work out for LA? A Super Bowl appearance. Sure it didn’t end how they hoped, but getting to the Super Bowl is a heck of a lot better than 5-11. The Giants obviously have a long way to go before they can envision being in the same stratosphere as the Rams, but the point is the Giants should do everything they can to not waste years of Daniel Jones while he’s still on his rookie contract. A situation where he doesn’t take the reins until year three, for example, would be malpractice because of the salary cap advantages a young quarterback brings.
By the way, the Giants should have 100 million in cap space to spend next offseason in free agency. It could be a monumental free agency period for the Giants, depending on who is available, and could shape the roster for the years to come. It would make a lot more sense to go into that type of off-season with some quality playing experience under Daniel Jones’ belt. You have to believe this is at least in the back of Dave Gettleman’s mind.
2019 and the Future:
While 2019 might not be a fruitful year for the Giants in terms of wins or a run to the playoffs, there is plenty to gain with having Daniel Jones on the roster. If things are looking ugly come mid-season, don’t get too down. This is the time to build a foundation for sustainable success in the future.