The New York Giants want to be patient with their first-round rookie quarterback, Daniel Jones. He’s a raw physical talent who — despite starring in preseason — likely needs time to grow before he’s ready to lead the team.
Eli Manning is testing that patience, though.
Two games into the 2019 season, the Giants are 0-2 and Manning has struggled for much of it. After throwing a touchdown pass on the team’s first drive of the year against the Cowboys, he didn’t throw another until the fourth quarter of Week 2. In a 28-14 loss to the Bills, Manning completed 26 of 45 passes for 250 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
It’s not all his fault. Dallas and Buffalo are a pair of tough defenses to contend with, and Manning’s surrounding cast isn’t good. The Giants traded away Odell Beckham, Jr. in the offseason and the group of replacements has been plagued by injuries and other problems.
Still, New York is winless through two weeks and calls for Jones to start will continue to mount. How much longer can the Giants wait before it’s time to see what the rookie can do?
Eli Manning is making the same mistakes a rookie would make
Efficiency is usually what a team is sacrificing when it plays a rookie instead of a veteran. First-year quarterbacks are much more likely to throw passes into traffic and typically wind up with plenty of interceptions.
Turnovers would be expected if Jones took over for the Giants. He already has one after fumbling when he took over for one drive late in New York’s loss to the Cowboys.
But the problem for the Giants is that Manning is making the same kind of mistakes you’d expect from Jones. His second interception was lobbed into a trio of Bills defenders, leaving no one but safety Jordan Poyer with an opportunity to make the play.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) September 15, 2019
The Giants are having a hard time staying on the field and moving the chains. They converted just three third downs against the Bills and only scored their first touchdown because Saquon Barkley broke free for a 27-yard run. If the offense can’t get going AND Manning’s throwing easy interceptions, what exactly are they risking by putting in Jones?
If New York is willing to throw in the towel for the 2019 season, keeping Manning in for the entire season could allow more time to groom Jones. Manning is 38 and likely to leave after the 2019 season with his contract set to expire in the spring.
But if the team aims to compete for the remainder of the year, it makes sense to play the rookie.
How ready is Daniel Jones?
Everything about Jones as a draft prospect suggested he’d be a long-term project. The Duke product has the size, arm talent, and athleticism to be a star, but consistently underwhelmed in college.
Then preseason happened and Jones was cast in a new light. He completed 29 of 34 passes for 416 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He posted a passer rating of at least 118 in all four games and looked every bit like a future franchise quarterback.
Then again, it was the preseason.
Jones faced defenses that were full of players who didn’t make final rosters. His statistics were tremendous, but that doesn’t mean he’ll replicate that success in the regular season. How ready he truly is for the spotlight remains to be seen.
The Giants may need to find out the answer to that question sooner rather than later, though. Even if Jones isn’t enough to turn the team around in 2019, learning what they have is better than continuing to flounder with Manning.