Sport Daniel Jones draft, revisited: Why Giants QB is on the brink of being a big 2019 NFL Draft bust
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The first-round of the 2019 NFL Draft has produced one superstar quarterback in Cardinals No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray. On the flip side, Dwayne Haskins fizzled out fast in Washington and is looking to save his career as a backup in Pittsburgh.
Somewhere in the middle with still a wide range of outcomes is Daniel Jones, whom the Giants took No. 6 overall out of Duke. Jones is still starting for New York in his third season, but it's also his final season to prove he can be the franchise's long-term No. 1 passer.
Jones has an 8-19 regular-season record going into Week 2 of 2021 in replacing two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning. Over those 27 games, Jones has committed 40 turnovers — 22 interceptions and 18 lost fumbles. Jones also has been sacked 85 times, an average of more than three times per game.
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Former Tennessee Titans star defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, who spent nine years with the team, is retiring after 10 NFL seasons.The former Tennessee Titans star defensive lineman, who spent nine years with the team, is retiring after 10 NFL seasons, the franchise announced Thursday.
The numbers have not been pretty for Jones. There have been a few flashes with big passes and big runs, but the proficiency and the efficiency have not been there. They all add up to putting Jones on the brink of being a big NFL draft bust, unless he can turn things around quickly.
So what's gone wrong for Jones since he took over in Week 3 of '19 with an impressive winning comeback performance against the Buccaneers? Here's a breakdown of his first three seasons in the NFL:
2019 rookie season: Bad offensive line, injury and lame-duck scheme
The Giants have been trying to fix their front five for a while. They got left tackle Nate Solder and right guard Kevin Zeiter well past their prime with previous teams. Will Hernandez, a 2018 second-round guard, has underwhelmed on either side. Although 2020 No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas may be turning a corner in Year 2 to help at left tackle, he also wasn't there when Jones arrived.
Giants activate two-time Pro Bowl TE Kyle Rudolph off PUP list
Rudolph underwent offseason foot surgery after an issue showed up in his physical when he signed with the Giants. The injury nearly caused the veteran's deal with New York to fall through, but the two sides eventually agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract. The Minnesota Vikings released Rudolph in March after 10 seasons with the franchise. In 12 games last season, he had 28 catches for 334 yards and one touchdown. Overall, Rudolph has 453 catches for 4,488 yards and 48 touchdowns in 140 games. The Giants also have Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Nakia Griffin-Stewart and Jake Hausmann at tight end.
Jones was sacked 38 times over 12 starts and didn't have time to throw anything deep, averaging 6.6 yards per attempt. He got beat up over the course of the season, suffering a high ankle sprain in December that cost him two games.
On the positive side, Jones did have an acceptable TD:INT ratio of 24 to 12 and also directed two Manning-like game-winning drives as a rookie. Running back Saquon Barkley didn't match his spectacular rookie season, but he was still the effective centerpiece of the offense when healthy in his second season vs. having Jones sling the ball downfield often.
For the most part when not throwing to fellow rookie Darius Slayton, Jones was reined in as a rookie and not allowed to grow much under former offensive-minded coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula, who had a past of conflicting concepts. That failure to get the best out of Jones cost Shurmur and Shula their jobs, with Joe Judge and former Cowboys offensive-minded coach Jason Garrett as their respective replacements. Unfortunately, the Giants have yet to see improvement from that new brain trust.
NFL insider expects New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman to be fired in 2022
Many fans already believe Gettleman’s tenure should be over. Given four draft classes to work with, including a 2019 class with three first-round picks, the results have been entirely underwhelming. Reviewing the New York Giants mistakes under Dave GettlemanGettleman received criticism in the 2018 NFL Draft for spending the No. 2 pick on Saquon Barkley instead of taking a potential franchise quarterback or trading down. He tried to redeem himself a year later, selecting Daniel Jones with the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.Jones has an 8-18 record across two seasons, posting an 84.
2020 sophomore slump: Not much help, more injuries and no Saquon
Jones' offensive line didn't offer better solutions in Year 2 with Thomas still getting his feet wet in the NFL and Solder deciding to opt out. There's been a glaring lack of continuity all across the line with the reshuffling at both tackles and center, an equal critical position for a young QB.
Garrett's plan was to go with the run-heavy offense he operated in Dallas with Ezekiel Elliott, only with Barkley as the new versatile workhorse. That was plan was ruined when Barkley struggled against the Steelers' mighty defense in Week 1 and went down with a season-ending torn ACL against the Bears in Week 2.
More was put on Jones as Slayton remained his best receiving option. Sterling Shepard traded the concussion that cost him games early in 2019 for turf toe. Shepard, a good hands route-runner who can boost any QB when healthy (see Week 1), missed 10 games the past two seasons. Tight end Evan Engram did help a second-year Jones as a security blanket after missing most of '19, but he's hurt again. The lack of 2020 weaponry, lowlighted by Barkley's major absence, put Jones on an island. The shaky protection, the limited targets and toggling between backs also made Jones take off and run more than ideal as the team's second-leading rusher.
Washington Football Team defeats New York Giants on last-second field goal
In a showdown of young, unproven quarterbacks, the unheralded Taylor Heinicke out-dueled the 2019 first-round pick Daniel Jones.A back-and-forth affair all night long, Heinicke - the undrafted fourth-year Old Dominion product - rebounded from an interception thrown deep in his own territory that set up the Giants to take a 29-27 lead with two minutes left. Heinicke marched Washington down the field and into scoring range. Dustin Hopkins first attempted a 48-yard field goal and missed wide right with time expiring. But the Giants drew an offsides penalty and Hopkins made the 43-yarder to win the game.
There was a total system breakdown again and Jones wasn't immune to the injury bug, either, given the burden on him. Just like the previous December, Jones got hurt again, this time with a hamstring strain adding to more ankle woes. When Jones needed the most support to develop, he had the least. He was sacked 45 times in 14 times, at a higher rate per dropback with the same 6.6 yards per attempt.
2021 third-year crossroads: Are the Giants' changes giant enough?
Giants GM Dave Gettleman, who was under initial heat for making the high pick on Jones, did his best to improve things around his QB beyond the budding Thomas this offseason. The team spent big free-agent capital on former Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay and also used a first-round pick on Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney, after missing out on Alabama's DeVonta Smith.
The Giants also got a stronger backup for Barkley in former Bronco and Raider Devontae Booker and reinforced the complementary blocking and receiving at tight end with former Viking Kyle Rudolph. All that, plus the hope of Barkley coming back fully healthy and into rookie form, gave the Giants high expectations for Jones and the offense.
Jones wasn't bad in the opening 27-13 loss to the Broncos. He did lose another fumble in Week 1, but he looked more comfortable and confident in what's around him and also used his legs well again for a second TD. He was locked back into Slayton and Shepard, too.
Jets DC explains why Patriots QB Mac Jones will be a 'difficult challenge' in Week 2
The Patriots are now preparing to face the New York Jets in Week 2 at MetLife Stadium, and Gang Green defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich knows Mac Jones will present a significant challenge for his unit. "He's way better than I wanted him to be," Ulbrich said during a press conference Thursday when asked about the scouting report on Jones. "You anticipate seeing a young, inexperienced quarterback making young, inexperienced quarterback-type of decisions. I didn't see a whole lot of that."Ulbrich added: "Part of that was he's got some real skill and poise.
The next step will be strengthening the connection with Golladay and Toney, who both were hamstrung and missed critical trainng camp time with their new QB. They offer extra big-play ability and red zone prowess. It also will be nice to have Barkley not limited coming back from his knee injury and seeing closer to 25 touches a game vs. only a dozen. Thomas played well against a tough Denver pass rush, but Solder was a disaster in his return, a shell of his former Patriots self at age 33. The immediate change there needs to be going with 2020 third-rounder Matt Peart at right tackle.
That's a ton of wholesale moves in a short period of time to try to support and fix Jones. But that's also because the Giants know they are running out of time with Jones. The jobs of Gettleman and Judge also are on the line with the lack of winning tied to the lack of offense.
Jones being more durable with better protecting and playmaking personnel is one big part of the equation. The other is getting the right play-calling from Garrett that takes full advantage of Jones' immense physical tools at 6-5, 230 pounds. If Garrett isn't the answer, the Giants need to make to change there, too, looking for one last offenisve spark for Jones.
This might be the only chance for the Giants to see the real Jones. Either the third time is the charm or the final misfortune — another high-upside QB going bust with a perfect storm of dysfunction.
Giants G Shane Lemieux out for season .
Days after losing Nick Gates for the year, the Giants have received word one of their other starting interior O-linemen is done for 2021 as well. Shane Lemieux underwent knee surgery Wednesday, and the procedure is expected to knock him out for the season. © Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports The Giants announced the second-year blocker had left patellar tendon surgery. Patellar tendon issues represent one of the toughest injury obstacles to overcome, so this puts a stop sign on Lemieux’s early ascent as a pro.