The 2018 NY Giants ranked 20th in off havoc allowed at 19.21% of their total offensive plays ended with a negative result (sacks, INT, fumbles, third-down not converted). They averaged 23.1 pts per game (16th), the area in which the Giants excelled involved the big play combo of Beckham and Barkley (more so Barkley), plays of 20+ yds or more ranking 4th.
When the Giants dealt Beckham to the Browns, they ended up without a real number one at receiver. They still had/have Saquan Barkley who can take the pressure off of the passing game, and a potential reliable number two if healthy in Sterling Shephard. They eventually acquired Golden Tate, who is a backend number one. Tate is not a going to take the top off of defenses like Beckham, but he is a good route runner with great hands who can move the chains and keep opponents honest. Add in Evan Engram who is an athletic freak when healthy, and the Giants have pieces.
Barkley can take a lot of pressure off of the passing game. In 2018 Barkley faced a stacked box on 23% of his carries ranking 24th among all RB’s according to NextGen stats. By comparison, Todd Gurley met an eight-man box on only 8% of his carries in 2018 proving just how elite Barkley is even against a stacked box, and also highlights the importance of having a good passing offense to take the pressure off of the run game as the Rams exhibited in 2018.
The Giants have a decision to make regarding Eli manning and Daniel Jones. Manning has not been “manning” the last few seasons. He ranked near the bottom of the NFL in AYTS (average yards to the sticks) -2yds behind the marker on 576 pass attempts in 2018. Manning has not been terrible, but he has been mediocre at times the last few seasons, and if the Giants are going to make hay in 2019 in the NFC East they will need to find creative ways to open up their offense no matter who is under center.
Daniel Jones has been impressive in his first two preseason appearances. Yes, this is against vanilla NFL defenses and 2nd, 3rd string players. Regardless the young QB has the tools you look for in an NFL Caliber QB. We have evaluated every Daniel Jones Preseason snap and what stands out is that he is decisive likely by design with one read pre-snap. His release is quick and accurate. On first down pass plays where he has shined the most, Jones QB release time from the snap, to throw clocked 2.42 sec. By comparison, Ben Roethlisberger led the NFL in 2018 at 2.55 sec. I am not saying Jones is better than Big Ben, but for the sake of contrast, Jones, in this small sample, has exhibited an elite level quick release.
Our analysis of Jones is not intended to be a hot take of “we think he should start in 2019”, it is meant to point out what happens when a team matches their scheme to a players skill set. Jones is a pro-style QB with similar traits to both Peyton and Eli Manning (not a comp). David Cutcliffe coached him at Duke, who also coached both Peyton and Eli in college. Jones has already displayed good footwork in the pocket, a quick, decisive release on his throws, and elite accuracy. I have only seen three bad pass plays where he underthrew one, threw a pass behind a receiver who still made the catch, and his two fumbles; one was an unforced error (QB, C exchange).
Jones success has come against four-man pressure with the occasional 5 or 6 man pressure. His quick release has mitigated a lot of the pressure getting home against vanilla defensive schemes. One area I want to see is when Jones is under more pressure will he sidestep that pressure, get off of his 1st read and move through his progressions or take off running?
The Giants are throwing the ball a lot on first down, which is a good indicator that they plan to use to defeat the stacked boxes teams love to throw at them because of Barkley. Jones has averaged over nine yds per att on first down pass plays in the preseason setting up 2nd and short-yardage situations where the Giants can force a defense to decide, do we stack the box or potentially give up a shot. The quick pass game can also benefit a younger Giants offensive line that ranked 23rd in performance according to NFL.com in 2018.
The Giants appear to have a plan that can work with either QB. The question is, how quickly will the Giants pull the trigger if Jones is just as serviceable as a rookie compared to Manning. Time will tell how this all plays out, and there is a lot more we need to see out of Jones before proclaiming him to be the Giants QB of the future. So far, the small sample of evidence points positively towards Jones ups