Devin White was made the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has not had the ideal start to his professional career, suffering a knee injury in just his fifth quarter of regular season action.
Daniel Jones was the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and will be making his regular season debut as a starter hoping to get his first four quarters off to a good start on the road against the Bucs.
The message out of One Buc this week has been about preparing to stop the run primarily, and adjusting here and there to account for Jones’ mobility. While there isn’t any tape on what a Giants offense led by Jones looks like, there’s plenty of tape to see what Jones brings to the field from an athletic standpoint.
But first, let's see how we got here.
DANIEL JONES’ HISTORY
For what it’s worth, Jones played in all four preseason games for the New York Giants and completed 85.3% of his passes (29-of-34) while throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked twice and had a quarterback rating of 137.3.
Jones was a three-year starter at Duke beginning in his redshirt freshman season. In each of his three seasons, he put up at least 2,600-yards while throwing 14 or more touchdowns every year with only one season producing double-digit interceptions.
Not exactly a running quarterback, Jones has athleticism enough to force defenses to account for him as a ball carrier coming out of the backfield as well. In his collegiate career, Jones ran for over 1,000 career yards and notched 17 rushing touchdowns.
In his first preseason, the rookie looked sharp while playing in simplified offensive schemes against mostly second-team defenses with similarly simplified plans of attack.
Still, his strong showing is encouraging, and there is hope in the Giants organization that he’s already displaying some of the qualities which led the team to selecting him one pick after Devin White this past April.
2019 DANIEL JONES
1 Game / Pass Attempts: 4 / Pass Completions: 3 / Passing Yards: 17 / Rushing Attempts: 1 / Rushing Yards: 5 / Fumbles Lost: 1
We’re not going to spend each week looking at an opposing team rookie, but when there’s a quarterback making his first start, it’s pretty important.
Jones’ 2019 season consists of four passes and one run which resulted in just over 20-yards and a turnover in Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys.
If there was anything to take note of, it was that Jones displayed his usual quick decision making and the throws he did attempt were mostly on target as the rookie got his first regular season action of his career.
Heading into his first start and presumably his first full game, let’s look at some strengths and weaknesses Jones will bring into this week’s match-up.
One thing stands out pretty quickly when looking at Jones. He knows where to put the ball, and he does it rather consistently.
Rarely, does Jones put a ball where his receiver can’t make a play and most of the time he finds a spot to put the pass where his receiver is the only guy who can make a good play on the ball.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense has looked solid, but has also allowed some opportunities for opposing quarterbacks to make plays they simply didn’t make. Some of the time, this was due to pressure in the face of the quarterbacks (Jimmy Garoppolo and Cam Newton) forcing them to throw inaccurate balls, or because each struggles with some accuracy issues in general anyway.
When facing accurate quarterbacks - especially young ones - the common idea is to put pressure on them early and often to make them uncomfortable. This is what we expect from the Bucs defense as well, which leads us to our next strength for Daniel Jones.
Some quarterbacks seem to care very little about their own health when staring down a pass rusher while trying to complete a pass. Jones is one of those.
Routinely in college and at times in the preseason, Jones could be seen standing tall and delivering a usually very accurate pass attempt as a defensive lineman or linebacker barreled down on him attempting to disrupt his throw or sack him altogether.
Rarely, did I see Jones get rattled. Even when he rushed his throws to beat the pass rush, his pass was impressively accurate.
His mobility aids in his confidence in the pocket as Jones has a quick slide step and the athleticism to take off if things don’t develop downfield. Which again, moves us to the next point.
o HOLDING THE BALL
I don’t think Daniel Jones has ever given up on a play and thrown the ball away. He’s a quick thinker and decisive passer who scans the field very fluidly and isn’t afraid to go back to a read he’d previously passed up once he exhausts his original reads.
Problem is, even for a guy who does this quickly, it still takes time. And time isn’t a resource NFL quarterbacks have a lot of these days.
At Duke, the Blue Devils offense used a lot of RPO, play-action and moving pockets to give Jones the extra time he likes to have with some of the longer developing routes.
In the NFL, even some of these tricks aren’t going to give him much more than three seconds, if he even gets that.
Against Carolina, Todd Bowles’ defense was getting into the offensive backfield early and often, and they’ll look to do the same against this Giants offensive front.
I expect New York will try to set up some easily completed passes with formations easy to read against the defense. But eventually, Jones is going to want to let a deep ball rip, and his playmaker approach to the passing game means he’ll hang tough in the pocket long enough to allow his receivers to get open, which also means there will be time for guys like Shaquil Barrett to get home and potentially even come through with a strip sack or two.
Speaking of which.
o BALL SECURITY
In 2017 and 2018 combined, Jones fumbled the ball 13 times and lost four of those. In one regular season possession, he has one fumble and one fumble lost.
Some of the athleticism and toughness that makes Jones a dangerous young quarterback, also makes him a dangerous young member of his own team.
The New York Giants coaches should be having Jones study the career of Robert Griffith III if they want to get through to him about the dangers of being the type of ball carrier he is.
His throwing set up and motion in the pocket leaves him susceptible to being stripped, and his refusal to avoid hits as a runner leaves him open to - well - big hits.
Buccaneers defenders like Lavonte David will be looking to take advantage of the rookies own bravado is he refuses to go down and insists on absorbing contact in his first career start.
Jones is looking to get his career as the New York Giants’ starting quarterback to a winning start, and he has enough physical tools to be an effective NFL quarterback. Getting wide receiver Sterling Shepard back for this Week 3 contest helps immensely, and of course, running back Saquon Barkley will be in the backfield helping out every step of the way.
A lot of quick routes, early throws and Barkley running the ball is expected to help take some pressure off of him. However, with his ability to drop the ball in the bucket downfield and Tampa Bay’s affinity for blitzing and playing single-high press coverage, expect to see more than a few deep shots in this one.