Things have looked bleak for the Giants for nearly a decade now. And a 1-3 start this season hasn’t done anything to change that. However, quarterback Daniel Jones has shown clear signs of improvement at the start of his 3rd season, and that should have Giants fans encouraged.
His numbers are efficient: 66.7% completion rate, 8.2 yards per attempt, 4 TDs, 1 INT, and a QB Rating of 98.3. But it’s the traits he’s been exhibiting on the field that provide some promise for the franchise.
Most importantly, Jones has consistently been throwing with anticipation on downfield passes. This was on display all afternoon against the Saints in Week 4:
Below, you can see the moment Jones decided to throw this pass and had just started his throwing motion. That doesn’t look too open does it?
Below is another example from later in the game:
Again, take a look at where his receiver was when Jones had just started his motion:
Anticipation comes from the ability to quickly recognize the coverage, read the body language of defenders, and understand where windows will be before they open. You could see that clearly above. Below are a few more good examples from the Giants’ win over New Orleans.
That’s one of those plays you watch on TV and don’t read much into because the receiver looked so wide open. But Jones’ ability to quickly read the coverage and make his decision before the flat defender had committed to the running back made it look so open.
Below is another example:
Jones recognized the window before his receiver had cleared the flat defender there.
The other encouraging aspect to Jones’ performance on Sunday was his willingness to make throws without there being much separation. His first touchdown to John Ross wasn’t wide open, but he recognized that it was open enough and was willing to pull the trigger. That’s not something we saw consistently from him during his first two seasons.
The Giants’ protection has been better in 2021 (8th in pressure % entering Week 5), which has helped Jones play with more confidence. That could change in a hurry this week, though, as he faces a Cowboys defense whose numbers don’t do justice to how difficult they have been making life for quarterbacks.
This will be another good test to see just how much Jones has improved.