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Dispassionate New York Giants observers — no, not the generational fans in North Jersey, Connecticut or even Long Island who wanted a return to Bill Parcells era success — weren’t expecting a lot from this year’s team.
Maybe coach Joe Judge could get the team to .500 in his second season, which might help everyone better understand why ownership has such an affinity for him.
Maybe senior vice president Dave Gettleman’s past high (very high) draft picks could stay healthy and play to their pedigree and expectations.
Certainly by year’s end, no matter which direction the entire rest of the team went, everyone could finally reach an understanding on whether Daniel Jones was the team’s Mr. Right at quarterback or merely Mr. Right Now.
The bar, you see, was not set very high for the 2021 Giants.
And yet on Monday we got a full blown confirmation the Giants failed to reach any of those low expectations.
The confirmation came when the team shut down Jones for the remainder of the season by placing him on the injured reserve list.
The idea behind this move is to give Jones a chance to fully recover from a sprained neck that kept him sidelined the previous three games.
“Based on the information from the medical team and their belief in a timetable for Daniel’s full recovery, and their belief with rest and treatment that he’ll return to full health, they deemed that the remainder of this season he should be shut down to give him that time to heal,” Judge told reporters.”
The Giants believe treatment will properly get Jones back sound for next season.
“There’s no surgery that’s even being talked about or mentioned at this point,” Judge added. “Surgery is not an option at this point. There’s nothing that would lead us to believe that he would need surgery for this.
“Again, the medical team has been monitoring how the neck has progressed over the last few weeks. They didn’t think they saw enough progress to clear him for contact and with the time remaining in the season, they didn’t believe it was going to be the smartest move to put him out there.”
This being about a New York team losing its starting quarterback for the remainder of the season, the news made national headlines. But the headlines missed the point.
Because the consequence here is not that a team is losing its starter. The consequence is this team now cannot fully know if Jones should be its starter in the future.
Jones, you see, finishes this season with something of an incomplete grade. He finishes with an unremarkable 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and a completion percentage, quarterback rating, and yards per pass attempt number that all mesh with his previous two years of roller coaster results.
So after three full seasons everyone understands Daniel Jones is … we’re not quite sure.
He’s definitely not a great quarterback who burst onto any scene. The guy selected No. 6 overall in the 2019 draft is not a prodigy.
He’s mostly a guy who needs more work. And improvement. He’s someone who may or may not be worthy of being New York’s unquestioned starter next year.
Jones is a good-at-times, poor-at-times enigma.
And that’s fine for a quarterback in his first season. It might even be acceptable, albeit a gamble, with a quarterback after his second season. But Jones remains a riddle in Gotham after his third season.
And while the riddle has no obvious answer, Jones will nonetheless be entering the final year of a four-year, $25.6 million rookie contract in 2022. That means by next spring the Giants must decide to use a guaranteed fifth-year option for 2023.
That $20-plus-million one-year option is typically reserved for players who have proven themselves.
Did anything you’ve read so far suggest Daniel Jones is such a player?
Luckily for Jones, he plays for the Giants.
High standards, once clear and well defined within that franchise, are blurred now. So Judge made it sound like the young quarterback is definitely going to get that fifth-year option as long as he’s the coach.
“We’ve seen enough growth from Daniel to tell us that he’s a guy we want to go ahead and play with,” Judge said.
There is, however, a caveat in that Judge doesn’t speak for everyone.
Giants’ ownership has a say. And Gettleman gets a say. And if Gettleman is fired or retires, his successor gets a say. And if Judge is not retained, then his successor will also get a say.
That’s how it is with a 4-10 team that has shown very little improvement from last year’s 6-10 record. That’s how it is when the bar is set low and no one reaches it anyway.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero