New York Giants head coach Joe Judge knew all along that the team had its quarterback in Daniel Jones.
But in a 27-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles—perhaps the biggest win of both Jones’s and Judge’s respective Giants careers—the young signal-caller proved that he’s every bit of the leader and on-field general the Giants organization knew he could be.
“I didn’t learn anything new about Daniel today,” Judge said after the game. “I’ve known that the entire time working with him, and I think we all have, internally. That’s why the team has so much confidence in Daniel. That’s why he’s our quarterback.”
For the longest time, Judge and to a degree Jones tried to convince the disbelievers that Jones and the offense were making progress to eventually complement the increasingly higher quality of football the Giants’ special teams and defense have been turning out for the last several weeks.
But the turnovers and the inability to load the team on his back and bring it to victory created just enough doubt among the naysayers who at one point this year began dreaming of Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields coming in on a white stallion to save the floundering Giants franchise.
Jones, however, stayed the course.
He didn’t turn the ball over for the second week in a row, a major glitch in his game. And in the victory over the Eagles, he showed Eli Manning-like leadership, especially in the fourth quarter with the Giants nursing a 24-17 lead and facing the all-too-familiar script that has seen them blow the lead to their NFC East division rivals too many times before.
Not this time.
On the Giants final scoring drive, which began at his 36-yard line, Jones connected with receiver Darius Slayton on a 40-yard strike that instantly put the team in field goal range.
Four plays later, kicker Graham Gano, who after the game would sign a contract extension making him a Giant through 2023, nailed his second field goal of the game to make it a two-score Giants lead, the Eagles out of time outs.
Earlier in the game, Jones, perhaps finally learning that it’s okay to take what the defense gives him, displayed some brilliant decision-making prowess.
On the team’s very first scoring drive, he ran a perfect zone read in which he sprinted through a hole vacated by an aggressive Eagles defender all to the endzone for a 34-yard touchdown run for a lead the Giants would never relinquish.
In the third quarter when the Eagles cut the Giants’ lead to 14-11, Jones and the Giants came roaring back with a drive that featured two deep balls for 27 yards to Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate for 38 yards to eventually set up Wayne Gallman’s second touchdown run of the day from one-yard out.
When Jones had to be conservative, he was, taking two coverage sacks (and fiercely protecting the ball in the process) instead of forcing the ball into a window that just wasn’t there.
“He’s done a heck of a job making plays when we need it and making better decisions throughout the season,” Judge said. “This guy is a young player who is developing. He’s learning a lot every week. You can see his improvement week to week.
“There’s a lot of games he’s played where maybe there’s a blemish that takes away from the 99% of the really good football he has played. But Daniel continues to be an improving player, he’s a tough dude, mentally and physically, and that spreads throughout our entire team.”
All in a day’s work for the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft.
“I think that’s an important part of playing the position—mental and physical toughness—for any football player, especially a quarterback.,” Jones said.
“That’s something I try to do every time I go out there on the field. I think our team is taking on that identity from coach and I think we’re playing a tough brand of football right now. I certainly try to be a part of that.”