Of course he is.
Of course Daniel Jones is aware of his standing with the Giants. He is the starting quarterback, once again, but his contract expires after the 2022 season, as his team did not pick up his fifth-year option. This means heading into a year of decision, Jones must convince a new general manager and a new head coach that he is the right man for the job moving forward.
He does not want to dwell on this but he cannot escape the reality he is dealing with.
“I think it’s natural to think about it a little bit,” Jones said Thursday after the Giants’ third organized team activity practice of the spring. “But I think you’re better off focusing on what you’re doing now and preparing as well as you can now.”
What was anticipated for months became official in late April, when GM Joe Schoen opted not to pick up the option in 2023 that would have guaranteed Jones $23.8 million. Explaining that decision, Schoen said, “It really doesn’t affect what we think about Daniel.
“It was a decision we thought was best for the New York Giants at this time.”
In his first comments since he learned he will play this season in the final year of his contract, Jones said, “That was certainly out of my control, out of my hands, and that’s the business part of it. I understand that. My job is to prepare to play as well as I can, help the team win games, and that’s certainly what I’m focused on.”
Asked if this disappointed him, Jones said, “You know, just kind of is what it is. You’re focused on preparing to play as well as you can, and that’s my goal.”
It is now incumbent upon Jones to adapt to yet another offensive system, with head coach Brian Daboll, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney entrusted with getting more out of the 25-year-old Jones than Pat Shurmur, Joe Judge and their offensive staff members did the past three years.
“He’s a smart kid,” Kafka said. “He works hard. Those are all things that I had heard about him, but being able to see him in person has been great. Right now, just developing that relationship with him is the most important thing, and out here in practice seeing him operate, seeing him communicate with the players and how he talks to each and every group has been really cool.”
Kafka spent the past five years in Kansas City, the past four as the quarterbacks coach, meaning his career ascension is certainly linked to Patrick Mahomes’ meteoric rise up to the heights of the NFL pecking order. A former NFL backup quarterback, Kafka offered this example of his assertion that Jones is smart: The coaching staff is putting in new installs every day and Jones is able to handle what is coming at him.
“He’s absorbing it, and he’s able to spit it back out, get guys fixed and cleaned up on the field,” Kafka said. “Those are things I’m looking for just out of the gate, getting guys lined up correctly, getting the huddle, sharp, crisp. Those are things that are important for pre-snap stuff.”
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Soon enough, the bigger picture aspects of the new offense must be mastered, and Jones will be asked to lead Daboll’s version of a spread attack, a pass-oriented system that was so successful in Buffalo, with a few wrinkles Kafka brings over from the Chiefs.
In this getting-to-know-you phase, it is imperative that Jones communicates what he likes and does not like to the new staff. That give-and-take can be uncomfortable, as every player wants to accept as much and reject as little as possible.
“I think it’s improved, really, since the day we got here,” Daboll said. “It takes a lot of trust to do that. You’re a player and you’re trying to learn the system that the new coaching staff is bringing in, so usually everything, ‘I can do that, I can do that,’ but as you build a relationship with the player, I think it’s a lot easier for him to say, ‘Hey, give me that one again tomorrow or give me that next week, let me get another rep of that or I’m just not really feeling comfortable with this play,’ and then we just throw it out.”
If this does not work out, the Giants will move on from Jones in 2023. He needs a big season to prevent that from happening.
“I’m certainly confident in myself,” Jones said. “I’m confident in the team we have and the coaches and the system.”