THIS IS NOT A KENNY GOLLADAY ARTICLE!
This is an article about the man who will now be throwing Golladay the ball, Daniel Jones. I know, there is nothing sexy about Daniel Jones. His doofy demeanor and blank stares are only slightly better than his predecessor, Eli Manning. The “Danny Dimes” moniker that he received in his rookie season was basically stripped from him this past season as he and the Giants struggled and looked more like pennies. Even before the Golladay signing though, I was telling people in the Twitterverse not to sleep on Daniel Jones coming into the 2021-22 season.
In the 2020-21 season the New York Giants finished 6-10 and only managed to score 280 points. They were the only team in the NFC to score under 300 points on the season, and the only team in the whole league they outscored was the pitiful Jets. A lot of the blame for the Giants struggles was put on Daniel Jones and there has even been questions as to if he is really the guy to lead the Giants back to success.
Starting with the obvious, the Giants lost Saquan Barkley right off the bat, so Jones was already playing with the deck stacked against him, and the opposing defenses keyed in on Jones and the passing game. The offensive line was also atrocious. They ranked dead last in PFF’s pass blocking rankings and played so poorly that they had to switch Offensive Line coaches mid-season. Jones was pressured on about 27% of his dropbacks within 2.5 seconds from the snap. This was the 5th highest percentage in the league. With all that pressure in his face, he was obviously sacked a ton and he still had issues protecting the ball.
Ok JB, so why are we buying in now?
There were some improvements this past season. Even with those factors I mentioned, Jones was able to improve his passing grade from 65.6 to 74.4 in his second season. He ranked 3rd in the league in passing grade on throws of 20 or more yards as well. He did this with Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard(when he wasn’t hurt) and Golden Tate (when he wasn’t benched) as his receiving corps. Having Evan Engram helped, but even he had a down year and only caught 1 touchdown which should certainly increase next season.
With Golden Tate gone and Kenny Golladay now in, the receiving corps takes a big leap in the right direction for Jones. Say what you want about Golladay, but he is an elite talent who has eclipsed 1,000 yards in both full seasons he played. He also is gives Jones a bigtime scoring threat as he showed when he scored 11 touchdowns in 2019. He should be healthy and well rested to get back to that 1,000 yard, 10+ TD mark in 2021.
The offensive line also showed improvements as the 2020 season progressed. The rookie Andrew Thomas got better as the year went on and some mock drafts even have the Giants addressing the O Line again this year to add to the young group from last year’s draft. They can also explore options to upgrade the middle of the line through free agency if they choose to as well. They have now hired Rob Sale as the offensive line coach after he had success in the college ranks and produced 2 offensive linemen drafted in 2020 out of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Lastly, the Giants will also have a much easier schedule in 2021 than they had in 2020. Their strength of schedule ranks 25th of 32 teams based on opponents winning percentage from this past season. Playing some inferior opponents should help them get back over the hump and return to a team who finishes 2021 over .500.
2021 is a make-or-break season for Daniel Jones. His career trajectory will likely be judged on how he performs this season and I look for Jones to take a big step forward this coming season. With a real #1 wide receiver, a better season from Engram, the return of Saquan Barkley, and improved offensive line under new leadership, Jones has the building blocks to allow him to continue to grow. If he protects the football and gets better protection as I believe he will, Daniel Jones will be a more than capable QB2, maybe even borderline QB1 in the 2021 fantasy football season.