PALM BEACH, Fla. – Daniel Jones "should be ready to go" when the Giants begin their voluntary offseason conditioning program on Monday, coach Brian Daboll said today.
Jones missed the final six games of the 2021 season because of a neck injury he suffered on Nov. 28 against Philadelphia. The injury did not require surgery.
With his health and availability no longer in question, Jones can completely immerse himself in the offense Daboll and coordinator Mike Kafka are installing. Jones last year completed a career-high 64.3% of his passes. But he also threw for a career-low 10 touchdowns.
"I think Daniel – I've said this before – he's got good athleticism," Daboll said during his 30-minute get-together with reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting here. "He's made some really good throws. I'm sure there's plays that he wants back, just like everybody. I think going into it right now with Monday, we've kind of got it set the way we want it set. We're forging ahead and teaching it accordingly and we have confidence in the players that we have."
Jones threw a career-low seven interceptions on 361 attempts (1.9%) last season. But that was not enough to shake a reputation that he is prone to committing turnovers. In 38 career games, including 37 starts, he has thrown 29 picks and lost 20 fumbles. Daboll will work with Jones to reduce those numbers.
"I don't make excuses with everybody, starting with me, and I think you've got to really go back and dive into the cause of the turnovers," Daboll said. "Some are decision-making turnovers where we can fix or try to fix. Some are receivers fell down, there's a tipped ball and some are really great plays by the defense. In terms of the interceptions and then in terms of the fumbles of why we're fumbling and how we're fumbling it, you do drill work to try to improve that. Again, to me, the most important thing come Monday is a fresh start for everybody.
"I've coached a lot of players at a lot of different positions. For a lot of different players that I've coached, some can't play in this league because he's too inaccurate. Some can't play because he turns the ball over. I think that the most important thing is put him in your system, coach him, develop a relationship with him, try to get the best out of him. You learn from the past just like we all learn from our past, but you have your focus on the future and what you're doing that day to improve and that's all I'm asking those guys to do."
Another aspect of Jones' game that receives much scrutiny is his propensity to run. He had exactly 1,000 rushing yards in his first three seasons, on 172 carries. Jones has been the Giants' leading rusher in 11 different games and had the team's longest run in 11 games. Considering Jones has missed games due to injuries in each of his first three seasons, does Daboll want Jones to continue using his legs to advance the ball?
"We'll see," Daboll said. "He's athletic. He's big. He's strong. I know he's had some injuries. I think there's always a balancing act but at the end of the day, you've got to try to use your players the best way you can use them to try to win a game. Sometimes it might not start early in the season like that, but as you figure out what you are and what you need to do, you can evolve to that, it's kind of like Josh (Allen, in Buffalo). How many quarterback runs did we really design? Probably more a little bit later in the year when it was crunch time. But again, that's knowing the player too where the guy wants the ball in his hands in the most critical moments to do that. Again, we'll find out with Daniel. I think he's got a really good skillset in that regard. How much of it we'll do? You never know."
View photos of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones throughout his NFL career.
Daboll spoke about numerous Giants-related subjects this morning, including…
*The decision to bring back wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who ruptured his Achilles tendon against Dallas on Dec. 19.
"I know Sterling restructured (his contract). The short time that I got to spend with him, he's just a class act. He's the longest-tenured Giant, but I think he's got a good skillset for some of the things that I can envision him doing. He's in there working in the weight room with the rehab guys. He's been a really good person and (general manager) Joe (Schoen) worked out a deal with him to bring him back and restructured his contract and we're happy to have him."
*On whether the Giants did what he hoped with their early free agent acquisitions, including four offensive linemen and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
"Time will tell. The guys that we signed, I like those guys. We were afforded what we were afforded with in terms of the salary cap, but guys like (Jon) Feliciano and (Mark) Glowinski, I think we've added some pieces that'll compete on the offensive line. Obviously, we've added a backup quarterback, a couple guys on defense we think will give us some depth. I think the big thing is we're still about five months out from playing a game. Nobody panics, everybody takes it one day at a time and try to add as many pieces to make this as competitive as you can make it and keep building your team really through the season. Team-building and adding players, there's still a long way to go on that."
*Can low expectations outside of the Giants' building be advantageous for the team?
"I think that the biggest thing we all can do, starting with me and trickling down to the rest of the people in the organization – obviously, Joe's got to focus on the future and we all do, but really focus on the day and try to win each day. Things are always going to be said in our league. It's the most popular sport. It's a great fan base with great support. All you guys have your job to do, and I understand that, but what we can do is just to focus on what we have to do to get better each day. I learned a long time ago, when things are going good, try not to listen. When things are going bad, try not to listen. I respect the people that are on the outside that love our game and report on our game and all we can control is what we can do that day and that's kind of the mentality that I'm going to take with myself, with the staff and with the rest of the players."
*On the addition of Taylor, a veteran backup quarterback.
"I think that's important. At Buffalo, they did that last year when we acquired Mitch (Trubisky). Again, you try to develop a scheme and a system for your starter, and you hope that the backup quarterback isn't too far off that in terms of skillset or ability or things like that. We've done it before, but I think it's probably a little bit better if you can mirror it a little bit."
"There are decisions that are made every offseason that are tough decisions. I've known Logan for a little bit of time and at the end of the day we thought it was the right thing for us to do and I wish Logan great success at Tampa. He's a good player, but I think that there are some tough decisions that are made every year. There are tough decisions that will need to be made next week, a month from now, three months from now. I've learned in this league that that happens every year with good players or players that you go into a new system or a new coach, that's the nature of our business."
*On what he can do to "unlock" wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who did not score a touchdown in his first season with the Giants.
"He's a big-bodied guy that makes contested catches, so he's like all the other guys. I went back and watched the Detroit seasons and he had some good seasons, just like when I went back and watched KT (Kadarius Toney) at Florida. You try to do as much work as you can on these guys before they get there to see what have they been successful at and figure out a way to use them in things they've excelled at. You've got to see them do the things that you're going to ask them to do in the offense. There's plays that we're going through right now, heck, if those guys want to turn inside on this route, let's figure it out when they get here and ask them. Stef (Stefon Diggs), we had different routes that I've run before and it didn't quite look like the ones that I ran 15 years ago, but I let him be him and do the things that he can do to be successful and use his talents."
*The Giants own the fifth and seventh selections in next month's NFL Draft. Given that he coordinated a prolific, high-scoring offense in Buffalo and now coaches a unit that struggled to score points, will it be difficult to bypass offensive players in the draft?
"It's a fair question. I'm trying my best. I'm new to this, right? I'm two months on the job. I certainly don't have the answers. Again, you've said it. I started five years in my career of coaching defensive football. I've coached offense but it's always cool to look at a defensive player and evaluate him as, 'OK, I'm not really worried about – if we play against this guy that gets drafted, we're going to go at his ass,' or 'this guy is pretty tough, he's a good player,' whether he's setting the edge. That's been a cool thing. I've really enjoyed that. In terms of would I rather draft an offensive guy or a defensive guy, I'd rather draft the best player wherever that fits. We have a lot of needs, so we're going to pick the best guy we can pick in either of those spots or one of those spots or wherever it works out."
View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2022 offseason.