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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There’s only one thing worse in the NFL than having a quarterback that isn’t capable of winning your team a championship: It’s having a quarterback that isn’t capable but is getting paid like he is.
Meet Daniel Jones of the New York Giants.
His first game as a newly minted $160 million quarterback for the Giants on Sunday night was — what’s the proper terminology? — oh, yes … Poo.
Jones Doesn’t Perform Like NY’s Best Player
Jones, paid to be his team’s best player and among the best players on the field, was actually the opposite of all that.
“Yeah,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said when asked about Jones, “I would just say in every area we weren’t good enough and I’ll take that.”
To call the night Jones had a horror is to disrespect horrible and horrific things.
Because Daniel Jones threw two interceptions. And for a while interceptions were the only pass Jones threw that another human caught.
Jones had his first interception returned 22 yards for a touchdown by DaRon Bland. He threw another interception with 10:55 left before halftime. At that late stage, Jones still had zero passing yards.
Jones also fumbled twice. And, no, it wasn’t the disastrous type of fumble that the Cowboys recovered. The Giants recovered the Jones fumbles. But those miscues nonetheless cost New York a couple of plays which were aborted.
QB is Part of the Problem
Jones, paid to be part of the solution for the Giants, was part of the problem. Perhaps not the biggest problem because that was happening along the offensive line that yielded seven sacks.
But Jones was right up there on the problem scale.
“We are certainly frustrated and extremely disappointed with how we performed tonight, and I know I certainly am with myself,” Jones said. “So a lot to work on and clean up. We are going to be critical of ourselves and look to correct it and get back on the right page.”
Getting everything corrected is going to be a sizeable task. Because there was troubling stuff Jones did this game we can quantify with statistics. But there was also stuff he missed in his processing of the defense and decision-making that also hurt his team.
And that doesn’t show up on a stat sheet.
It shows up on tape for coaches and teammates to see.
And it shows up on the scoreboard to make everyone cringe. That’s part of the reason this was a 40-0 blowout against the Dallas Cowboys.
“I think there [are] plenty of situations where I didn’t make a good decision, didn’t make an accurate throw, didn’t make the right read,” Jones said. “And I’m going to be very critical of myself and those situations and look to correct that going forward.”
Giants Believe In Daniel Jones
That’s a good idea. Improvement is a solid goal for a player who just laid an egg.
But the question with Jones is not whether he’ll indeed get back to work and try to improve. Everyone within the Giants organization is convinced he’ll do that.
The Giants believe in Jones and think he’s got high character and work ethic and leadership. And he does.
The problem is talent. Ability.
Does Jones have that?
The Giants think so. When Daboll talks of Jones as if he’s speaking of himself, both one, it tells you the commitment to Jones is unbroken. But the group of people outside the organization that feels the same way today might be shrinking because, well, folks have eyes.
Last year the Giants were a pleasant surprise in the NFC East in making the playoffs. But after beating the Minnesota Vikings in the wildcard round, the Giants bowed out with a 38-7 loss to the Eagles.
This offseason was supposed to be about improving. It was authored to close the gap with the Eagles.
Signing Jones to new $40-million-per-year deal was part of that equation. Except now one has to wonder if it adds up.
Have Giants Closed Gap With Eagles, Cowboys?
In that playoff loss to the Eagles Jones struggled, throwing an interception without any TDs. He completed under 60 percent of his passes for a paltry 135 yards. Well, he threw for a paltry-er 104 yards against the Cowboys.
So much for offseason improvement against a division rival.
“This wasn’t our best game, there is no doubt about it,” Jones said. “This wasn’t who we are capable of being. We’ve got to show that, we’ve got to put that on the field and play that way. We didn’t do that tonight and we have a lot to work on going forward.”
This all sounds great in a post-mortem presser. The quarterback falling on the sword makes some people feel better.
But hours removed from that, where does it leave the Giants? Are they legitimately going to have a better quarterback this year? Or just a more expensive one?
Last season Jones threw 15 TD passes and 5 interceptions. That’s acceptable for a quarterback still on his rookie contract.
But once a quarterback starts making more money, that needs to directly equate to him making more plays. Shouldering a bigger burden. A quarterback has to earn the big bucks he’s getting, yeah?
Daniel Jones is the 12th-highest paid quarterback in the NFL. He’s the highest paid quarterback in New York.
But he has not started the season playing like either of those.
(This is where I tell you Joe Burrow is the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback on a $55 million per year annual average and he had a terrible outing Sunday against Cleveland. So Burrow and Jones seem to be in a similar situation. Except Burrow has taken his team to the Super Bowl and two AFC championship games.)
So what to do with Jones now? Well, this game against Dallas let us know.
In the midst of rain storm, toward the end of a blowout the Giants had zero chance of winning, Jones remained in the game late in the fourth quarter. Daboll said he kept the QB in there to see if something positive would happen.
It wasn’t a search for a rally so much as a reach for a sliver or good news.
Jones couldn’t deliver.
And expect to see more of this this season. Expect to see the Giants hoping Jones can do something, anything positive, even the face of difficulty.
Because they have no other choice. They’re paying him $160 million contract and they have to hope it works out.