Continuing our look back on the 2019 rookies, let’s take a look at the New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. His selection was not without controversy or even outright debate. But regardless of whether the Giants should have taken their signal-caller in 2018 or not, they got Jones. Let’s break it down.
By The Numbers
Despite claims that he could spend his entire rookie season behind Eli Manning, Jones was into the starting lineup by Week 3 of the season. He amassed 41.6 fantasy points in his first start and finished as the QB2 overall that week. It would be the first of four top 12 weeks for Jones in 2019. He scored two rushing touchdowns to go with two through the air that day, but they would be his only rushing scores of the season.
Jones passed for multiple touchdowns in five games, with four against the Lions and Jets and five against Washington. Jones is one of only four rookies since 1950 to have five touchdown passes in a single game. The others are Matthew Stafford, Jameis Winston, and Deshaun Watson. Jones’ 24 touchdown passes were a new Giants franchise record for a rookie, beating the 22 tossed by back in 1948.
All this sounds great, but we must also address the negatives from Jones’s first year. There are 18 that I can immediately think of. Jones fumbled a barely believable 18 times, with multiple fumbles in six games. He lost 11 of those 18. Jones also had three games in which he tossed multiple interceptions. And then there are the sacks. He took 38 of them in total. He was sacked three or more times in seven games, absorbing eight in a loss to the Cardinals. For as much as there is to be pleased with from his rookie season, there are just as many reasons to be concerned.
In order to find players who enjoyed comparable seasons, I did what we’ve done in the past when carrying out this series. I set the RotoViz Screener to find rookies from 2010 to 2019 and selected some basic production and usage numbers as variables. Then I asked the Screener to find seasons comparable to my target player — in this instance, Jones. Here’s what we found:
History has a fine sense of irony, it seems. Jones enjoyed a similar rookie campaign to that of Sam Darnold, a player that many felt the Giants could (or should) have selected in 2018.1 Truth be told, these are not the greatest comps in the world. But they’re also not the worst.
As a possible range of outcomes for Jones, let’s take a look at how these players fared in their second seasons.
Across the board, with the exception of Teddy Bridgewater, this cohort all showed improvement in passing efficiency in their second years. Darnold was the player who took the biggest leap too.
If Jones were to replicate the second season of, say Marcus Mariota, then I think the Giants would feel pleased. Regardless of what type of player he is now, in his first two seasons in the NFL, Mariota was an efficient passer who could chip in with valuable yards on the ground. I don’t think he is a terrible measuring stick for Jones heading into 2020.
Things already look different for Jones ahead of the 2020 season. For a start, he’ll have a new head coach and a new offensive staff looking after him. Pat Shurmur was canned after the 2019 season ended and in his stead, the Giants appointed Joe Judge as head coach. Judge installed former Cowboys head clapper Jason Garrett as his offensive coordinator.
Jones flashed at times as a rookie. But his habit of dropping the football needs to go away. Simple as that. The Giants fans will not tolerate watching a QB fumble his way out of a job. Well, not again, anyway. Fans of a certain vintage will no doubt remember Kerry Collins issues with fumbling, culminating in a league-leading 23 in 2001. It would be an aid to Jones and his offensive skill players if he could cut down the sacks too. The Giants have done a tremendous job in largely ignoring their offensive line in recent years, but you can’t put all the sacks Jones took on the offensive line. He has to get rid of the ball quicker.
The Giants have a few noteworthy players at the skill positions. Running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram will hope for fully healthy seasons in 2020, while rookies Darius Slayton and Kaden Smith flashed at times, particularly Slayton, whom our own Cort Smith thinks we are too low on. If Jones can fix his flaws, and get better protection, then he could have a decent year. Daniel Jeremiah thinks the Giants will try and address his protection in his first mock draft.
Mock drafters over at the FFPC are not overblown with enthusiasm with Jones at this point in the offseason. But nor are they completely down on him. He’s been going off the boards as the 12th quarterback so far, just a little bit later than Carson Wentz, but earlier than Drew Brees and Baker Mayfield. He could be a late-round target to consider as the season gets closer.
Image Credit: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Daniel Jones.
- Although, as the numbers attest, Jones was actually the more efficient first-year passer of the two. (back)