Can Daniel Jones lead Saquon Barkley’s coattails to a Giants playoff comeback?

Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones
Photo: Getty Images

The 2022 season had to be closed. Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones were the two mascots of the Dave Gettleman era that were on the way. Instead, Barkley appears rejuvenated after missing countless starts over the last two seasons. Much to the dismay of Giants fans, Brian Daboll has also found something that has worked with Danny Dimes.

Jones has been a constant disappointment under center since being drafted seventh overall, one spot ahead of Josh Allen. This offseason, New York declined his fifth-year option, however, the buzz around Jones has been building with each win. Judging by the tone of desperate Giants fans after Sunday’s 27-22 win over the Green Bay Packers, Jones’ solid play might be enough to trick the Giants into bringing him back for another go.

They should clean up those thoughts before they end up with a Jimmy Garoppolo 2.0 on their hands. For the sake of Giants fans’ sanity, they’re used to grading Jones’ contributions on a curve. On Sunday, Jones was in action. He completed 21 passes for 217 yards against Green Bay and nearly surpassed Aaron Rodgers in receiving yards.

Against the Packers in London, Jones led off the sixth comeback or winning game in his four-year career and his fourth this season. In fact, Jones rode shotgun for three of those returns this season. Week 5 marked the first time he topped 200 yards passing in 2022.

Even when the Giants have won, Jones has felt like the residual piece of a Giants offense that any two-footed athlete with high-level football experience could handle. Forget stacking up with his peers, Kyler Murray and Josh Allen. Murray and Allen have thrown at least 200 in every game this season and have led nearly twice as many punt returns each as Jones.

It was Barkley’s 2-point conversion, 194 total yards from scrimmage and a dropped field goal that lifted the Titans above .500 for the first time since 2016. In New York’s Week 2 win over the Carolina Panthers, 3rd and 6 Jones’ game sealed the deal, but that was against the team in the midst of the league’s longest active losing streak. Jones had a measly 71 yards in a win over the Bears last week.

Daboll was also wise enough to keep Jones from airing it too often. Instead, Jones has been used in RPOs, as wideout bait in Wildcat formations and as a Taysom Hill-like gadget player. New York killed teams in the first five games of the season out of necessity. Jones should be praised for working with a depleted receiving corps while avoiding negative plays. Jones completed more safety-valve throws to tight ends, fullbacks and running backs than to wide receivers in the Giants’ last two carries. A big chunk of Jones’ 217 yards on Sunday was the result of a short catch that Barkley had for a 40-yard game-winning gain.

The Giants trusted Barkley to the Wildcats to close out their game win. Jones is the poor man’s version of a quintessential Giants quarterback. Incredible as an individual, monotonous passer, but resourceful team player. He won’t lead the Giants to wins, but he can still read Barkley’s directions from the passenger seat. It’s all about the journey, not the destination. The Giants should enjoy this start, but they shouldn’t read too much into it and fall into the mirage of a contract year.

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