First things first: Daniel Jones is on it, when it comes to embracing a different role in year No. 2 with the Giants.
“Yeah, I definitely feel that responsibility,’’ Jones said Wednesday on a Zoom call. “We have a lot of guys on our team who are leaders, who can step up and organize guys and get things going in the right direction. That’s something I need to take seriously, and I certainly do.’’
Like Eli Manning before him, Jones knows he can only lead if he takes care of his own football business, and there is plenty of it to occupy his time and mind as he works remotely in this most unusual of all offseasons.
The offense installed by coordinator Jason Garrett is brand new and should be considered very different from the system Pat Shurmur gave Jones last season.
Before he can lead, Jones must know where he is going.
“I think when you look at any offense, there’ll be similarities but also a lot of differences,’’ he said.
Garrett spent 12 years as an NFL quarterback and ran the offense for three years in Dallas before taking over as the Cowboys’ head coach for a decade. New head coach Joe Judge said Garrett’s system is “not the true West Coast system’’ and is actually a compilation “formed over years collectively from where he’s played and coached.’’
This will mostly be foreign to Jones.
“There are going to be some similarities with Daniel, but I would not say it’s a carryover in any way, shape or form from his rookie year,’’ Judge said.
Jones said he has spoken briefly to Tony Romo, Garrett’s former quarterback, but not in great detail about what he should expect.
“The verbiage will be different,’’ Jones said. “How they name concepts and obviously formations and motions are different. There will be different concepts and concepts we are going to read in different ways.’’
The Cowboys led the NFL last season in yards per game. Dak Prescott threw for 4,902 yards and Ezekiel Elliott ran for 1,357 yards. Does this bode well for Jones and Saquon Barkley? Well, the Cowboys possess a dynamite offensive line. The Giants are trying to make some noise there.
“The biggest thing is it’s been successful, it’s scored a lot of points and gained a lot of yards,’’ Jones said. “I’ve only played in the NFL for one year, so there’s a lot out there I haven’t done, a lot out there I don’t know. Trying to fit a system a certain way because of me I’m not sure makes sense.’’
It is a rough deal for Jones, learning a new offense one year into his NFL career. Manning last week acknowledged his presence at times was “awkward’’ for Jones and that his retirement should allow Jones more room to grow.
“Looking back, there was definitely probably a little bit awkward at times, certain times,’’ Jones said. “But we did a good job working together. I thought it was a huge advantage for me to be able to learn for him and talk to him every day. It will be different, it will be an adjustment.’’
The adjustments can be daunting. Jones, 22, is staying in his family home in Charlotte, N.C., with his parents, two sisters and one brother. “Hanging out here packed in,’’ is the way Jones described his pandemic living arrangement.
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To keep his arm in shape, he is throwing to receivers he knows in the area — college players, guys from high school he used to throw with. Parks and open spaces are available, and he does what he can to work while social distancing. He is concentrating most of all, he said, on the ball-security issues (18 fumbles) that plagued his rookie year.
After Judge was hired, he refrained from naming any player on the Giants roster and insisted there is no depth chart, refusing to anoint Jones as the starting quarterback. This may have rankled some, but not Jones.
“I think coach Judge has a policy on that, he’s got a way he’s going to approach those situations and I respect that,’’ Jones said. “I respect his emphasis on everyone earning their roles, and I certainly wouldn’t want it to be any other way. I want to earn my role as anyone else does theirs.’’