I think the debate is over. Daniel Jones on Sunday put an emphatic end to the “can Jones be a quarterback who can win you big games?” and “should the Giants bring Jones back as their quarterback next season?”
Jones completed 24 of 35 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. He ran 17 times for 78 yards. He is the first player in postseason history to surpass 300 yards passing, throw multiple touchdowns and run for more than 70 yards in a game.
“I’m impressed. I’m not shocked. He’s been doing it all year. He’s really a special player,” running back Saquon Barkley said. “I’m happy for him and proud of him.”
Head coach Brian Daboll described Jones’ virtuoso performance in the biggest game of his career as “pretty good.”
“Isn’t good a good adjective to use?,” Daboll said when asked if there was a better description for the way Jones played. “Yeah. I’m not a writer. I’m just a coach. Look, I’ve said it all year. Daniel is good for us. He continues to be good for us and he played a good game. And I think there [are] a lot of other people that played good games too to help him play a good game, he’ll be the first to admit it. But as the leader of our football team, I’m proud of him.”
This tweet from ESPN quarterback guru Dan Orlovsky could function as a blanket statement for many fans, analysts and writers when it comes to Jones:
Jones made every play the Giants needed him to make. He got first downs on two fourth-and-1 quarterback sneaks. He led the Giants on five scoring drives, none shorter than 75 yards. He ran with physicality. Made great decisions. Protected the football.
What Jones really did was make it crystal clear that he is the Giants’ answer at quarterback. The Franchise Guy. If you’re still arguing otherwise, I will make this simple. You’re wrong. Period.
That part of the debate is over. The only question now is how heavy will the bag be that the Giants are going to have to fill with coin to keep Jones in blue?
Jones is, of course, a free agent this offseason. He certainly made himself a ton of money with his performance on Sunday. On Friday, we estimated that Jones’ price tag had already escalated to somewhere around $32-35 million per year. It might be north of that now.
Jones answered every challenge on Sunday. When the Vikings took a 7-0 lead, he engineered drives of 75, 81 and 85 yards to help the Giants to a 17-7 lead.
“I think that was important for us,” Jones said. “Just coming out and executing. Regardless of the situation that’s our goal on offense. I think that was important to get off to a fast start.”
When Minnesota erased a 10-point deficit and knotted the score at 24-24 with 12:34 to play, Jones took the Giants on a 12-play, 75-yard drive for the eventual game-winning touchdown.
Jones threw nine passes, completing five on that drive. He ran for first downs twice, including a fourth-and-1 sneak. The only play he didn’t have a hand in was Barkley’s 2-yard touchdown run.
“We had a lot of fun,” Jones said. “Do love the opportunity to compete and play in big games. I think we all had a lot of fun.”
Judging from the post-game locker room, there is no doubt that is true.
Wide receiver Darius Slayton said Jones was “tremendous” on Sunday.
“I can’t think of a bad thing he did today,” Slayton said. “He played a great game, but that’s what great players do.”
The Giants drafted Jones sixth overall in 2019 largely because he reminded them so much of the guy they wanted him to succeed, Eli Manning.
It is kind of amazing how Jones’ career seems to be following the same arc that Manning’s did. Remember, it wasn’t until the Giants’ magical 2007 Super Bowl run in Manning’s fourth season that people became convinced the Giants had the right quarterback.
This, of course, is Jones’ fourth season.
“I know we have an elite quarterback,” Barkley said. “I think he’s shown that most of the time.”
The rest of the football world is beginning to figure out that Barkley might just be right.