Daniel Jones says he will be ready to play.
The Giants are banking on him playing much better.
Coming off the neck injury that sidelined him for the final six games of last season, Jones expects to be on the field “feeling good” at practice later this month, and to gain medical clearance for contact when hits on quarterbacks resume in August preseason games .
“Yeah, I’ll be cleared and ready to go,” Jones said Monday as the team’s voluntary offseason training program began.
After a promising rookie season, Jones regressed over the last two seasons as an overcommitment to ball security seemed to strip away his aggressiveness. But his critics’ eyes were opened when a stagnant offense (18.4 points per game) became nonfunctional in his absence (9.3).
“I take full responsibility for how I’ve played, and we haven’t won enough games,” said Jones, who is 12-25 as a starter. “We haven’t scored enough points. We haven’t done things well enough. I take responsibility for that. As a quarterback, you play a big role in those things. So, that’s what I’m focused on. I’m working on improving and making sure that myself, as well as the offense and team, is ready to go daily.”
Giants co-owner John Mara, general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll all have expressed confidence in Jones as the starter entering his fourth season. Tyrod Taylor (two years, $11 million) and Davis Webb replaced Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm as the top backups.
True feelings will be revealed by May 2 — the deadline for the Giants to decide whether to exercise Jones’ fifth-year contract option at $22.4 million fully guaranteed. It makes little sense to do so from a salary cap perspective, especially when looking at the pickles the Panthers and Browns are now in with Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, respectively. The franchise tag offers a safety net if Jones breaks out and earns a huge contract.
“There will be a time and place for those conversations, so we’ll see,” Jones said. “We’ll take care of that when it comes up, but I’m focused on what we’re doing here.”
For the third time in his young career, Jones is learning a completely new offense, which is one of the things that prompted Mara to say “we’ve done everything we can to screw this kid up” earlier this offseason. The Giants are meeting with top quarterbacks in the draft, but that mostly is due diligence.
“I’m excited to get going here and I appreciate the support,” Jones said.
The new offense ideally will develop into a hybrid between what Daboll brings with him from the Bills and what offensive coordinator Mike Kafka carries over from the Chiefs. Those two high-scoring teams played one of the best games in NFL history during the playoffs.
“You watch a lot of those playoff games for both those teams and try to pick up little things, but [not the same] until you’re really in the system, learning from the coaches and hearing them talk it through,” Jones said. “We’re not quite there yet, so I’m looking forward to that piece of it.
“Like everyone sees, these offenses have scored a lot of points, created a lot of explosive plays, and had a lot of success. Dabes has said we’ll build it around the people here, the skill guys we’ve got and what they do well.”
Monday marked the first day players received playbooks and film-loaded iPads. Daboll’s spring checklist for Jones includes communicating effectively in the huddle, reading teammates’ body language, offering input into the offense’s design and making the right decisions in different simulated situations. It doesn’t include pretending to be Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes.
“As a player you never want to be in a situation where you’re trying to be someone else, or you’re doing things that aren’t you, or you’re comparing yourself in certain situations,” Jones said. “Any player at any position in any sport, I think that’s when you get into trouble.”