EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Daniel Jones is not going to take this personally.
The Giants' fourth-year quarterback will play in his first playoff game Sunday when the Giants visit the Minnesota Vikings in an NFC Wild Card Game. The initial opportunity to play in the pressurized atmosphere of the postseason is a significant milestone in any player's career.
Jones will arguably receive as much scrutiny as any quarterback on Super Wild Card Weekend. He is leading a high-profile franchise that is playing its first postseason game in six years and is seeking its first playoff victory in 11 seasons. Jones is the only first-round draft choice among the seven starting quarterbacks in the NFC bracket – where Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Jalen Hurts and Kirk Cousins are lurking. If Baltimore's Lamar Jackson and Miami's Tua Tagovailoa were healthy, all seven of the AFC quarterbacks would be first rounders, including Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow.
But Jones looks at all football matters through a team prism and he's not altering that in one of the most important weeks in his Giants tenure.
"There's a lot of quarterbacks who play in the playoffs," Jones said. "I think what you do from this point on, the success you have, it's all about what you do now and how you move forward and how we prepare this week and ultimately how we execute on Sunday.
"Those are all really good players, really good teams, really good offenses. We're confident in our group. I'm confident in myself. But it's about what we do as a team, what we do as a unit and what we accomplish together."
The Giants have played 32 playoff games in the Super Bowl era, winning 20 of them. They have started 27 different quarterbacks during that time, including just five who won a postseason game - Scott Brunner, Phil Simms, Jeff Hostetler, Kerry Collins and Eli Manning. Jones now gets his first opportunity to join the list.
"This organization has a long history of success, winning and postseason success," he said. "So, for us to be a part of that, it's about us as a group and what we can do as a team this year as part of that history and part of the storied legacy of this organization. So, I think that's the big thing."
Brian Daboll has coached in 30 postseason games as an assistant and mentored his share of quarterbacks, most notably Allen the previous three seasons in Buffalo.
"I've coached a few of them," Daboll said. "I think, again, it's the next game. And we're, again, privileged and honored to be part of it. But the things that got you to having an opportunity to be here, that's what you got to lean on."
Daboll said his interactions with Jones will be no different this week than they've been since the coach arrived here a year ago.
"It just goes back to being consistent and doing the things that we need to do to prepare for this game," Daboll said. "That's really what it comes down to. How we play on Sunday and how we prepare during the week, those are the most important things."
Five quarterbacks made their postseason debuts in the 2021 playoffs: Derek Carr, Hurts, Mac Jones, Kyler Murray and Burrow (Daboll coached Hurts, Jones and Tagovailoa when he was the offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2017). In their first playoff games, they were a combined 1-4 with six touchdown passes, seven interceptions and a 70.7 passer rating. Burrow was the only winner, and he led Cincinnati to the Super Bowl.
According to several barometers, the 2022 season was Jones' finest. He was 9-6-1 as a starter, matching his victory total for the previous two years combined (he was one of 17 starters who did not play in last week in Philadelphia). Jones' 67.2 completion percentage, 3,205 passing yards and 92.5 passer rating are all career highs, and his five interceptions are a career low.
All of which will mean nothing on Sunday.
"I think everyone understands where we are now," he said. "We're in the playoffs. We're past the regular season. The games mean more from the sense that you lose, you go home. So people understand that. They understand what's at stake. But the only way we're going to play as well as we want to play is to prepare how we have all year, to trust our process and stick to that. So, that's largely been the conversation amongst the guys."
This will be the Giants' second game in U.S. Bank Stadium in three weeks. On Dec. 24, they lost, 27-24, on Greg Joseph's 61-yard field goal on the final play. Jones finished with a career-high 30 completions and a season-best 334 yards. For the first time in their history, the Giants had three receivers – Richie James, Isaiah Hodgins and Saquon Barkley – with eight receptions apiece.
Also, last month, the Giants played a 20-20 tie with Washington on Dec. 4 and defeated the Commanders two weeks later, 20-12.
"I think it's a similar situation in that we're playing them twice and so close together," Jones said. "I think there is some experience we can draw from earlier this year and apply it to this situation. But each game's different, each defense and how we're game planning, how we're attacking the defense is different. We'll try to learn as much as we can from the first game. Use that for our preparation.
"But you've got to understand that this game is going to be different. It's going to play out differently. You can't go in anticipating or trying to predict it to turn out a certain way just because it did last time. So, we'll use our first game to our advantage and go in as prepared as possible."
That is true for both Jones and the entire team.
View photos from practice as the Giants get ready for their Wild Card matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
*Every player on the roster practiced Wednesday, though five were limited: center Jon Feliciano (back), defensive lineman Leonard Williams (neck), linebacker Azeez Ojulari (ankle) and defensive backs Adoree' Jackson (knee) and Jason Pinnock (shoulder).
*The Giants signed veteran wide receiver James Washington to their practice squad. Washington was released last week by the Dallas Cowboys. He fractured his foot in training camp and didn't play until Dec. 11.
Washington was a second-round draft choice by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018. In four seasons with them, he played in 62 regular-season games with 25 starts and caught 114 passes for 1,629 yards and 11 touchdowns. Washington also played in two postseason games and had seven receptions for 109 yards and one score.
View rare photos of the Giants' history playing on Wild Card Weekend in the NFL Playoffs.