Saturday, July 20, 2024

What Giants can do to improve situation around Daniel Jones after lost season without replacing franchise QB

Change is typically easy for everyone except for those who actually have to do it. While many of us seek comfort with our typical routines, we are often the ones who ask our sports teams to make drastic changes for the perceived good of the group. 

That is the current situation surrounding the New York Giants, who recently received the grim news that quarterback Daniel Jones will miss the rest of the year after tearing his ACL in Week 9. Jones’ injury (which will likely require a 8-9 month recovery timetable) is yet another black mark on a season that has been full of them for the Giants, who are 2-7 this season — one year after winning the franchise’s first playoff game since the 2011 Super Bowl

Many are likely calling for the Giants to start over at quarterback. While that would inject change, would that be the most effective way to fix the issue? Probably not. 

Let’s start with the fact that Jones’ contract has massive cap hits over the next two years. Add in the fact that the team needs to use their high draft picks filling other holes, and you can all but dismiss any thought that the Giants will draft a quarterback in the first round. 

What the Giants need to do is find a way to get through what is a lost season, then go about improving the situation around Jones for next season. The Giants could have the 1963 version of Y.A. Tittle at quarterback, but it wouldn’t matter unless New York fixes its other issues on offense. Just ask Tyrod Taylor, who was playing well before he suffered an injury that will sideline him for at least the next four games. 

To put it mildly, the Giants’ offense hasn’t been good this season. A big reason for that is due to running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Darren Waller missing time with injuries, but also offensive linemen Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal and John Michael Schmitz Jr. sidelined with injuries. Even with those three linemen active, the Giants need a talent infusion on the O-line, especially behind their starters. Those can likely be found in free agency and during the upcoming draft. 

When healthy, Neal hasn’t been very good. A top-10 pick two years ago, Neal’s struggles this year included a costly false start penalty on the opening drive of this past Sunday’s loss to the Raiders. The penalty, which led to a brief sideline scolding from head coach Brian Daboll, wiped out the Giants’ plans to go for it on a fourth-and-1 play that, had they made it, may have been a momentum-changing play. 

Max Scharping is an example of a good player who could help the Giants’ offensive line next season. A 2019 second-round pick, Sharping started 33 games during his first three seasons with Houston before joining the Bengals in 2022. While not a starter in Cincinnati, Scharping has been a solid backup who started in each of Cincinnati’s three playoff games last year with starting right guard Alex Cappa injured. 

Along with an improved line, the Giants could desperate use a No. 1 receiver and a young playmaking tight end. The Giants would own the No. 4 overall pick if the season ended today. If they have the chance, they should draft Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., who could be the most pro-ready receiver since Larry Fitzgerald came out of Pitt nearly 20 years ago.  

The son of Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison, the younger Harrison is generating Heisman buzz with his ability to take over games for the top-ranked Buckeyes. His presence would do wonders for Jones, who has never had a true No. 1 receiver. 

It’s easy to see what the Giants wanted to do when they brought in Waller, a former tight end with the Raiders. But unfortunately for both Waller and the Giants, it appears that he is dealing with the wears and tears that comes with being a football player who is on the other side of 30. 

The Giants now need to take the same approach at tight end the Bills (Dalton Kincaid), Packers (Luke Musgrave) and Bears (Cole Kmet) and others have taken in recent years. In fact, each player made plays this past weekend for their respective teams, and the Giants could use a tight end who can make a similar impact. 

New York also needs to keep Barkley in the fold. Sure, the running back position has changed, but it’s clear by now that Barkley is a special player who also adds value as a leader inside the locker room. That is a huge benefit for a quarterback, especially in a market like New York. Cade Stover, a tough-nosed tight end and Harrison’s teammate at Ohio State, is doing wonders for first-year starter Kyle McCord in Columbus and could do the same for Jones. 

The Giants could even draft a quarterback, just not someone who will be asked to challenge Jones for the job. Examples like Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Dak Prescott come to mind as quarterbacks who had their own level of success in college but for whatever reason were undervalued going into their respective drafts. While Brady is a true diamond in the rough, there are quarterbacks in just about every draft that slip through the cracks. The Giants just need to do their due diligence in finding him. 

If they do, that player could at worst be a quality backup who can come in and play in a pinch. One such player could be Tulane’s Michael Pratt, who last season led the Green Wave to a 12-2 record that included a thrilling win over USC in the Cotton Bowl. Pratt is currently projected as a third-round pick. 

As you can see, the Giants can do a lot of things to improve their situation that doesn’t include moving on from Jones, who proved that year that he is capable of having success when he is given an opportunity to do so. 

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