breaking-down-the-giants’-intriguing-daniel-jones-debate

Silly.

That is what is would be to give up on Daniel Jones right now, or anytime soon.

Downright silly.

The Giants are not casting aside their 23-year-old quarterback, not after four losses this season, not after a downtick in his effectiveness from his rookie season and not because there might be some flashier option out there in the next NFL draft.

This is not a lifetime appointment and it is always a delicate decision on how long to hold on before pulling the plug.

Jones is aware of all this.

“Yeah, I realize this is my second year and I do have a lot to learn,’’ Jones said Wednesday. “I’m always learning and improving. I don’t think you use that ever as an excuse. I’m expected to play well, to understand what we’re trying to do and to execute it. I’m certainly learning, always learning and trying to improve, but we can’t see it as an excuse — and I certainly don’t.’’

Joe Judge after four games saying, “Look, if you’re asking if Daniel is our quarterback, Daniel is our quarterback,’’ is not exactly breaking news. We know he is the Giants quarterback. What we do not know is this: If the Giants go 2-14 or 3-13 and are in position to take Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, then is Daniel Jones the quarterback?

Daniel Jones
Daniel JonesGetty Images

This is a hypothetical, but the Giants lose so often this is what happens: speculating on the near future with the present so bleak.

“If they like Trevor Lawrence over Daniel Jones, yeah, you take Trevor Lawrence and you create a market to trade Daniel Jones,’’ Jim Miller, a SiriusXM NFL radio host and former NFL quarterback, told The Post. “I wouldn’t fault the Giants for doing that if they deem Trevor Lawrence to be their next guy.

“Yeah, that would entice me.’’

This is from someone who is a believer in Daniel Jones.

“Overall, just his command of what he’s doing, the confidence in himself, I see a quarterback that can be a top-tier quarterback, I really do,’’ Miller said. “I just think he’s going through a growing experience with a team that needs to rebuild a lot of things around him.’’

Jones has 16 NFL starts, the equivalent of a full season. His starting record is 3-13 and he has lost 12 of his last 13 games. His passer rating of 82.9 is better than franchise icons Eli Manning (68.9) and Phil Simms (63.2) at the same juncture in their careers.

Thwarting what is often a natural progression in a second NFL season is Jones having to learn a completely new offensive system.

“Jones hasn’t been great, but I still see progress from last year,’’ a former Giants player with a Super Bowl pedigree told The Post. “I don’t think you give up on a guy like that.’’

Here are some of the factors the Giants must consider with Daniel Jones:

Among his peers

As bad as it might look, analytics are not totally unkind to Jones. His grade of 74.1 this season puts him as the 14th-rated quarterback in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Jones does not stack up with Kyler Murray, taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft class, but Jones is not far behind. Murray is the 12th-rated quarterback. The only other 2019 quarterback taken in the first round, Dwayne Haskins (15th overall) is far down the list; he is 34th at the position and Wednesday it was announced he was demoted from starter to No. 3 in Washington.

Compared with the heralded 2018 quarterback class, Jones in 2020 is behind Josh Allen (fifth rated) but ahead of Baker Mayfield (24th) and Sam Darnold (30th).

So, as far as grading Jones with the young guns, he is right there. His data thus far this season grades him higher than Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr. Clearly, the numbers do not tell the entire tale.

Instincts

The interception Jones threw against the Rams with 52 seconds remaining to ensure another loss was mind-blowing. Jones rolled to his right and had options available to him: Dump it off over the middle to an open Dion Lewis for a short gain or run it himself, as there was open space on the right side. Jones either did not see Lewis, did not realize how much room he had to run or was so locked in on his receiver, Damion Ratley, that he made the absolute wrong choice. He threw late and behind Ratley, who was not open. Cornerback Darious Williams made an exceptional diving play on the ball for the interception, but it was a throw Jones should not have made.

Daniel Jones
Daniel JonesN.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

This make you wonder: Is this inexperience or is something missing from the intangible gene in Jones’ makeup?

Miller recalls Aaron Rodgers early in his career working the two-minute drill.

“They did not end well, they ended with interceptions, sacks,’’ Miller said. “Every quarterback goes through that.’’

Raising the level

Here is the dichotomy quarterbacks face. Are they responsible for lifting the talent around them, or is the team required to surround the quarterback with enough talent to make his job easier? This was at times a knock on Eli Manning. When Manning did not have skilled weapons around him, he did not win much.

Jones has never had the full complement of the talent the Giants put on the roster for him. He was never a teammate of Odell Beckham Jr. Sterling Shepard has been in and out of the lineup and is not a difference-maker. Tight end Evan Engram is athletic but often unreliable. Saquon Barkley missed time last season with a high ankle sprain and did not make it out of the second game this season. It is not a stretch to suggest the best receiver Jones has to throw to is Darius Slayton.

“You always say a quarterback has got to raise the level of play of people around him. I think Daniel Jones does that, but I don’t think he’s got enough around him,’’ Miller said.

Athleticism

At some point we (guilty as charged) should refrain from comparing every move Jones makes to Manning at a comparable point in his career. We can declare Jones is a far superior athlete and leave it at that. He is now bigger (after gaining 10 pounds between Years 1 and 2) than Manning ever was, stronger and Jones was always faster. Much, much faster. The expected group of roadrunners are atop the league in rushing among quarterbacks: Murray (32 carries for 265 yards), Lamar Jackson (39-235) and Newton (35-149). Sitting there at No. 4 is Jones (18-137), averaging 7.6 yards per attempt.

Jones has been sacked 14 times and a few of them are on him for holding the ball too long and not sensing when the rush is upon him. He has saved a handful of sacks, though, by wriggling out of trouble, as his strength and balance serve him well. Miller believes the muscle Jones added this season increased his arm-strength. No one can argue about anything with Jones’ physical requirements of the job.

The glaring weakness

Oh, you want a few details? Jones has 16 career starts and 30 turnovers — 17 interceptions and 13 lost fumbles. He bulked up and his ball-security mechanics are tighter than the sloppiness of his rookie year. Playing from behind, forced to throw, unable to use enough play-action passes are all factors in Jones averaging slightly more than one interception per game.

“I think he is better at protecting the football,’’ Miller said. “When I see him in the pocket he’s holding that football with both hands on it in tight quarters. His awareness in the pocket is better, in terms of the fumbling.’’

The verdict

Times have changed since Bill Parcells insisted it takes 30 games to properly evaluate a quarterback. But really, have they changed so much? If Jones finishes this season, he will have 28 NFL starts. We should all reconvene at that point in time.

“I think he’s made tremendous progress,’’ Miller said. “I see a quarterback you can win with and a guy who is, it’s a tough market, he’s got the demeanor of, I hate to say this, Eli Manning. He shrugs things off, he can deal with that type of pressure, there’s a maturity about him. I see a quarterback you can win with, definitely.’’