It should be the first order of business for every team, the top priority, no matter what.
Every NFL outpost either has one or is searching for its franchise quarterback and yet there is no widespread consensus as to exactly what it takes to be one of these.
There is an eye-of-the-beholder feel to all this, akin to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart back in 1964, commenting on a case involving a threshold test for obscenity.
“Perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so’’ Stewart wrote, revealing his difficulty in creating a definition of hardcore pornography, “but I know it when I see it.’’
We know a franchise quarterback when we see him.
Is this the vision in front of us, wearing No. 8, in blue, one day removed from throwing, scrambling and pass-catching the Giants to a rare victory? If anyone can bang the table and uncategorically state “Daniel Jones is a franchise quarterback’’ they are either remarkably prescient, admittedly biased or else related to the 24-year-old from Charlotte, N.C.
It is safe to say the Giants feel better about Jones now, seven games into what is destined to be another losing record, than they did at the end of last season. It is safe to say Jones, by virtue of his play on the field, his rock-solid demeanor and considerable athletic gifts, has earned the right to be the Giants starting quarterback in 2022 — unless something goes haywire in the final 10 games.
The arrow got bent backwards after last week’s three-interception regression against the Rams and was straightened out a bit by the way Jones operated in the 25-3 victory over the Panthers. This sort of weekly yea or nay for Jones is a ride on the roller coaster coach Joe Judge always cautions against taking. The long game is the only game, when it comes to figuring out if you have the guy or you do not.
Here is a simple question: When you make a list of top five Giants problems to fix, where does the starting quarterback sit? Is he on the list at all?
One list of what ails the Giants most of all: 1. Offensive line. 2. Offensive line. 3. Pass rush. 4. Current and future health of the offensive playmakers. 5. Tight end.
How much navigating the Giants have to do, on virtually every snap, attempting to mitigate the failings of this patchwork offensive line, cannot be minimized. There is no ability to design a play with confidence, knowing the play will not be blown up before it ever has a chance. The Giants are starting three players who should be backups, one player (Nate Solder) well past his prime and one player (Will Hernandez at right guard) who can be part of a successful line — if he is the fourth or fifth cog in the machinery.
That Jones is in the books having been sacked 14 times in seven games is far more a credit to his escape-ability than any bold blocking up front.
The offense was depleted and Jones, when facing the Panthers, made those around him better. Dante Pettis. Darius Slayton. Evan Engram. Devontae Booker. Eli Penny. If a quarterback can do this, he has a golden touch.
“Everybody on the team believes in DJ, whether it’s guys who have played a lot of snaps or guys who have played zero snaps,’’ Slayton, who caught five of Jones’ passes for 63 yards, said Monday. “Everybody out there believes in ‘8’ and knows that if they’re out there with him, they’re gonna have catchable, accurate passes to catch and at the end of the day it’s on us to complete ’em.’’
There was only a glimpse of what this attack can do with Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay. It looked like Giants 27, Saints 21 in New Orleans.
The Giants dig Jones. He resonated with his older teammates the moment he stepped through the door as a rookie, and still does. He can take it and he can give it. Safety Logan Ryan said, “I didn’t know he had that’’ after seeing Jones’ fully extended, one-handed grab of a pass from Pettis for a 16-yard gain. Ryan then challenged Jones to a one-on-one game of hoops.
Jones chuckled at this.
“I like my chances against Logan and a lot of those guys in that locker room,’’ he said, the confidence in his physical skills alive and well, despite his humblebrag way of saying what he means.
The Giants screwed up the end of Eli Manning’s career with boneheaded personnel moves that compromised the talent around their aging quarterback. Jones could be here for the long haul, but it will not be a pleasant experience unless the Giants build around him, because for now, they do not need to look to replace him.
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