The Giants 2023 Preview: It’s All About Daniel Jones
Remember the New York Football Giants?
It is not meant to be a condescending question. The Giants are the older (by a lot) and more successful (really by a lot) local NFL franchise, boasting four Super Bowl championships. But Big Blue has become almost an afterthought on sports-talk radio and the tabloids’ back pages during the off-season because the Jets acquired Aaron Rodgers, the town’s newest sports savior.
Remember Reggie Jackson? Keith Hernandez? Mark Messier? Well, they had something in common. They arrived in Gotham and led their teams to championships.
Daniel Jones, the Giants starting quarterback, is now the team’s key player. He has nothing near the pedigree of Rodgers, a four-time Most Valuable Player.
But Jones is wearing a bull’s eye, just the same. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say no NFL player, except for the Kansas City Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, figures to have as big of an impact on his team’s fortunes as Daniel Jones.
In Jones’ first four NFL seasons with the Giants, he showed flashes of brilliance. He threw passes with authority, developed an uncanny sense for escaping pass rushes and gained a reputation as one of the best running quarterbacks in the league. The fans loved when Danny Dimes fulfilled his potential as the sixth player picked in the 2019 NFL Draft.
But all of that translated into great frustration for the Giants fans, too.
Jones had a penchant for turnovers. He also got bit by the injury bug. He frightened Giants fans by risking broken bones when he fought for every yard in his jaunts up the middle instead of wisely sliding to safety. You’d think a Duke University economics major would exhibit more common sense.
Jones has a lot to prove this season.
He has a career record of a paltry 21-31-1 in his 54 games. And Giants fans still get nostalgic when they think of Jones’ predecessor, the two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. Manning led the Giants to his first Super Bowl in his fourth season, adding to the pressure that Jones already faces.
Jones, entering his fifth season, has no excuses this year. Nobody will give him the benefit of the doubt if his supporters gripe about the Giants’ shaky offensive line or his uneven receiving corps. In fact, the Giants added the skilled tight end, Darren, Waller, from the Las Vegas Raiders, to give Jones another target. And Saquon Barkley, the team’s gifted running back is entering the season signed and healthy.
The Giants’ defense surpassed expectations in 2022. The team presented a promising pass rush. Nose tackle Dexter Lawrence, the best player on defense, makes opposing teams draw up plays strictly to outmaneuver Lawrence.
Hey, maybe he will never be as feared as Lawrence Taylor or Michael Strahan. But Lawrence has the biggest impact on the team’s defensive fortunes now.
Lawrence made the Pro Bowl and was voted to the NFL’s second-team defensive squad. He is a menace on the field.
This is also a big year for Giants head coach Brian Daboll. He has a reputation to live up to now. Under Daboll, in his first season as an NFL head coach, the Jints had their first winning record since 2016 and its first playoff win in more than 10 years.
If the Giants take a step backward, Daboll will feel the wrath of the city’s very demanding media and fans. Equally as crucial as the team’s performance on the field, the franchise seemed to have a new sense of purpose and vigor. Daboll injected the Giants with a competitive fire. When the squad won several games early in the season, the entire town seemed to gain confidence in his leadership.
Giants fans will get a good idea right out of the chute about how this team is shaping up. The NFL, always opportunistic in making its schedule, shrewdly pitted the Giants at home against the age-old rival Dallas Cowboys.
If the Giants can defeat Dallas, it would give every observer the belief that last year was not a fluke. The Cowboys have manhandled the Giants in recent years, making the opening game seem even more important than usual.
I say the Giants will finish the regular season with a nifty 11-6 record, sparked by a decisive victory over Dallas in game one.
Winning feeds on itself, The Giants have the look of winners.