It all worked out well for Daniel Jones as he headed into the most important season of his NFL career.
What he avoided—injuries, making big mistakes—and what he gained—his first real taste of victory, a flair for making the right decisions—combined to convince new general manager, Joe Schoen, and new head coach, Brian Dabol, that Jones could and should be the Giants’ quarterback going forward.
It was not easy for Jones to get the four-year, $160 million contract the Giants put out for him.
In many ways, the odds were against him, with those smart enough to bet money on Jones unable to check enough boxes and the Giants looking elsewhere in 2023.
However, the Giants did not pay Jones his price.
He invested in them for the growth he believes will unfold.
The 26-year-old Jones making more plays has also been instrumental in achieving that growth.
It should be more proactive than reactive.
He should not only make the right calls but also make daring calls.
It should not only be safe, but also sparkle.
If Daniel Jones is to emerge from the mid-level tier of NFL quarterbacks to a performer capable of breaking into the top 10 at his position, he will have to take more risks.
“Changing his mindset helps him explore things more downfield,” quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney told The Post earlier this offseason. “We’ve talked about it a little bit more. It always comes back to ‘what is the situation, what are we trying to do?’ And he understands it very well.
“It always goes back to situational awareness for us. What is the intent of the call and does a great job of figuring it out. The play is called, the intention is this, the situation is this, what is the defense doing now? About five or six seconds before the ball bounces, he has a 1,000 things to think about. Changing that mindset is part of the risk-reward. When is the right time to take a risk, when is the time to say ‘hey, you know what’? The risk here isn’t really worth it, let me just go back, take what they give me and we’ll go on.’
“The more he does that, the more we’re going to keep calling those risk-reward plays to help time it until the risk comes.”
It’s not about Jones — who takes the field with his teammates for the first practice of training camp on Wednesday — firing the ball across the field, accumulating more touchdown passes at the expense of an increased interception rate.
But too much of the former, if it means too little of the latter, may be acceptable to veterans.
Jones’ modest total of 15 touchdown passes in 2022 was 21st in the league, tied with Marcus Mariota, who threw 172 fewer passes for the Falcons than Jones attempted for the Giants.
Jones’ interception percentage of 1.1 (five interceptions in 472 attempts) was the lowest in the league. The Giants should be able to tolerate a few more interceptions in exchange for a significant increase in touchdowns.
Jones’ average depth of field last season was 6.42 yards; Only Matt Ryan threw short passes more often with the Colts.
Jones threw passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage 75.6 percent of the time; Only Ryan and Matthew Stafford of the Rams were higher.
Safe passing and checkdowns and airing it only when necessary were all part of the nine-win season.
The Giants would like to see more of Daniel Jones who propelled the Vikings to 24 completions and 301 passing yards in the 31-24 playoff win.
The Giants ranked last in the league in completed passes of 20 or more yards, with only 28 of them.
Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said, “You definitely want that to be part of your offense.” “I think it’s something we’ve looked deeply into how, can we improve that to get some more opportunities or get the personnel to get the right people in the right places. It’s our job to make sure we do it right.
There were encouraging signs in the spring, as Jones clearly looked more comfortable in his second year in the Dabol attack. In early practice, Jones felt the safety was in danger and was hesitant to throw a deep ball to Darius Slayton. The following week, Jones got in the same form and hit Slayton.
Tierney said, “It was like we were looking for this same look last year and he’s grown up a lot and made this move.”
Another step forward for Jones, many more to go.