It isn’t so much that Patrick Mahomes, more than any young franchise quarterback, has spoiled everyone.
It is how quickly Joe Burrow has looked like The Natural, and how precocious Justin Herbert has looked so soon.
It is the progress Josh Allen made in his second season that has launched him in his third season into the MVP conversation behind Russell Wilson.
It is of little solace to Giants fans that Dwayne Haskins has fallen out of favor so quickly with Ron Rivera and the Washington Football Team.
Tick … tick … tick … the clock is ticking now for Daniel Jones.
Go Time for Daniel Jones.
It is time for him to state his case, time for him to remind Giants fans suddenly fearing that he is not The Guy of the rookie quarterback (24 TDs, 12 INTs) who took the torch from Eli Manning and ran with it. He has looked more like a rookie quarterback this season than he did as a rookie, and you can’t fault Giants fans for dreaming the same Trevor Lawrence dream that Jets fans are dreaming given the third-year wall that Sam Darnold has run into.
Alarm bells are ringing.
For most young quarterbacks, there are growing pains and a roller-coaster ride that can test the patience of owners, executives, coaches, media and fans.
Jones has not thrown a touchdown pass in his past four games since his two-TD opener against the Steelers. He has thrown five interceptions and lost three fumbles, 14 for his career. He has 31 career turnovers in 17 starts.
Jones’ failure to fix the fumbling/turnover problem he worked on so obsessively over the offseason has left the arm talent, toughness and leadership he displayed as a rookie in the rearview mirror.
On a team that has such little margin for error, a single error from the quarterback often proves fatal.
Jason Garrett was expected to be a godsend for Jones, but he didn’t unveil his much-ballyhooed quarterback-friendly offense until Sunday when he threw the kitchen sink at his former team, but it wasn’t friendly enough for Jones to march the Giants to a winning score come Winning Time.
Any second-year leap for Jones was contingent to a degree upon the same factors that have been instrumental in Darnold’s stunted growth: protection and playmakers.
To be fair, Jones doesn’t have enough protection, and he doesn’t have enough playmakers.
PROTECTION: No. 1 draft left tackle Andrew Thomas may have a bright future, but that future isn’t now, and center Nick Gates might stand up to Aaron Donald but he is every bit the novice at his position that Thomas is at his.
In other words, Thomas isn’t David Diehl and Gates isn’t Shaun O’Hara.
In other words, the offensive line still isn’t fixed.
PLAYMAKERS: There was a time when Manning’s offense inevitably stalled … only to be rescued by an explosive play by Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham hasn’t made a difference in Cleveland — except for his three-touchdown outburst against the Cowboys — but the package GM Dave Gettleman extracted for him — DT Dexter Lawrence, S Jabrill Peppers and OLB Oshane Ximines — has not impacted the won-lost record, and none can help Jones from the other side of the ball.
The loss of Saquon Barkley for the season has left Jones without a difference-maker. Devonta Freeman helps, but he isn’t Barkley. Jones misses Sterling Shepard, who is not a No. 1 receiver. Golden Tate (8.1 yards per catch) is 32, and without a TD. Darius Slayton is the lone deep threat. Evan Engram (18-147-0 TDs) was expected to be a dangerous weapon under Garrett. The fourth and fifth receivers were signed off the scrap heap.
The perfect storm occurs when the receivers fail to separate and Jones is forced to hold the ball.
He made quicker and smarter decisions against the Cowboys and threw the ball away on those occasions when he was running for his life. Baby steps.
Quarterbacks and head coaches are ultimately judged on the won-lost record. Joe Judge is 0-5 in the first year of his rebuild, but he has a five-year contract. Jones is 3-14 in the second year of what seems like an endless rebuild.
No one, however, should even think twice about giving up on him. Not now. The kid is a fighter. He endured adversity at Duke, and never flinched. He has won the respect of his teammates. The market isn’t too big for him. He wants to be great.
But he better wake up. At some point, you have to figure it out and find a way to win, because you are part of the problem if you can’t. Joe Judge has sung his praises. He wants this to work. Giants fans want to sleep at night knowing there will be Life After Eli. Just not this current life.
The Life and Times of Danny Dimes: it’s Go Time.