With a more stable situation and a superior supporting cast compared to his first two NFL seasons, Daniel Jones is entering a pivotal third season as the quarterback of the New York Giants. As the much-heralded successor to Eli Manning as well as a target of frequent criticism, the No. 6-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft enters the 2021 season tasked with both making the Giants a winning team again and affirming beyond a shadow of a doubt his status as the team’s franchise quarterback.
That shadow of a doubt is something that Jones hasn’t quite been able to shake yet. For a variety of reasons, including a statistically unremarkable 2020 season, the former Duke quarterback seemingly has as many naysayers as he does advocates. However, many of those advocates are those who play for — and formerly played for — the Giants, including legendary defensive end and Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan.
In an interview with Chris Bumbaca of USA Today, the Giants’ all-time leader in sacks turned television personality gave his endorsement of Jones, touting the quarterback’s personality and physical traits as the keys to his success in New York.
“I love Daniel. As a person, absolutely. I think he has the perfect temperament, perfect everything for the position as a Giant,” Strahan said. “Physically? I’ll be honest with you, what an incredible athlete … I think he could be that guy. He is the guy.
“Now I think you’re giving him what he needs, and I think [offensive coordinator] Jason Garrett is going to do the right job setting himself up in this system so he could be successful and lead the drive to a Super Bowl, which I’m hoping is very soon.”
Arguably no great player in the Giants’ recent history has seen the peaks and valleys of quarterback play quite like Strahan did. Strahan was a rookie during the 1993 season that was the final for franchise great Phil Simms, which gave way to a period of instability that saw Dave Brown, Danny Kanell, and Kent Graham all take turns under center. After the Kerry Collins era gave way to a brief tenure by Kurt Warner, Strahan played the rest of his career with Eli Manning and closed his career as a member of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII-winning team.
Entering the second season of the Joe Judge era, the Giants have gone to great lengths this offseason to surround Jones with greater skill talent on offense in order to jumpstart Big Blue’s offense, which was the second-worst in football in 2020 and only allowed Jones a total of 11 passing touchdowns. But a great defense is also pivotal to a quarterback’s success, and the Giants have continued to look for a pass rusher of Strahan’s caliber: The G-Men added two pass rushers through the NFL Draft in Azeez Ojulari and Elerson Smith, while also re-signing defensive lineman Leonard Williams to a long-term contract after he led the team in sacks last year.