The Giants have hoped and prayed that Daniel Jones could be a worthy successor to Eli Manning.
From The Man Who Knows Best:
“I think Daniel has played great this year. I think that offense suits him well,” Eli Manning told the Post. “You put the ball in his hand to win this game.
“I would assume and hope that he has proven that he is capable of leading this team for a long time.”
The question to Manning about Jones is the same one he was asked the summer before Super Bowl XLVI when Michael Kay asked him on his radio show if he thought he was an elite quarterback.
“Daniel is playing great and I think he’s becoming elite,” Manning said, laughing. “There’s still room to grow and I think he knows that and that’s going to make him that elite quarterback because he’s going to keep working. He’s in the first year of this offense and they will continue to add players and add some people to help in certain spots. And with his ability to run smart, sometimes taking punches and being tough but just running and going down and the way he throws accurately and makes great decisions, I think he belongs to that elite – can be quarterback.
As Jones begins preparing for the Eagles in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs Saturday night, Manning offers this advice to his protégé:
“The good thing is that he played there, he was there. It’s a new game, it’s a new place, what happened in the past doesn’t matter in this game. It’s about having a great game plan, understanding the environment and what it’s going to be like, and not letting that get you down. Just go in and keep playing the way he’s been playing.”
And the way Jones played encourages Manning. Because he was still the quarterback for the New York Football Giants when Jones was such a controversial draft pick in 2019. He has seen Jones blossom from young puppy to fearless leader that everyone believes in.
“It gives me great pleasure to watch him and be happy for him just because I’ve seen what he’s been through, I’ve spoken to him through good times and bad and times in between,” Manning said. “And I feel like I’ve tried to be a good resource for him to see if he wants to vent. There aren’t many people who know what quarterbacks go through. I can be that person to help him get through and just be a solid person to talk to and give him sound advice and help him through times.
“But the way he’s worked and his personality, I just appreciate it because he wants to win for the right reasons and want to do well. He wants to do it for the organization, for the fans and for his teammates. It’s not about him, it’s not about being famous or it’s about nothing but going out there and just being rewarded for all the hard work and dedication and dedication that he put into this team, because that was never doubted. He’s focused, he’s determined, he takes his craft and his job very seriously and it’s paying off and it’s fun to see.”
Jones is eerily similar to Manning in the way he behaves under the searing New York microscope.
“There are some similarities in his demeanor and his work ethic — he doesn’t really let everyone know what’s on his mind and what’s on his mind and what bothers and doesn’t bother him,” Manning said. “He doesn’t show a lot of emotion but I think he’s true to himself, he’s not trying to be anyone else, he’s not trying to be me, that’s just his personality. … He’s not trying to be something he’s not supposed to be, so he’s very comfortable in his own skin when it comes to doing things his way.”
Manning could relate to the struggles of a young quarterback called in to save the franchise. Manning was the Chargers’ first overall pick before then-GM Ernie Accorsi created the blockbuster Draft Day Trade that changed the course of Giants history.
And so, when Jones rang the bell as the Giants kept changing head coaches and offensive coordinators, Manning felt for him.
“It’s not fun to lose, it’s not fun to fight,” Manning said. “When you feel like you’re doing everything right and working extremely hard without getting the results you want, it can be frustrating. And now that he’s getting results, it’s because he persevered and worked through it and is committed and just stayed the course.
I asked him what advice he gave Jones in the darkest of times.
“Just to grind on,” Manning said. “That’s all you can do, just keep doing the right things, keep trying to improve yourself, be self-critical, be your biggest coach in terms of places to improve and be Be honest about it, but you also need to coach other people and get everyone else on the same page and hold everyone accountable too.”
Brian Daboll had been a godsend for Jones and for Eli Manning’s Giants.
“He did a great job getting Daniel into comfortable games where he can make good decisions, being creative with the running game, game action, bootlegs, nudity, zone reads and giving him confidence: ‘Hey, go run, use your feet, take these readings,'” Manning said. “They did a great job getting everyone to play and buy in fast. Everyone buys in, kind of does the dirty work and makes everything look the same. The way he played, just protecting football, making good decisions – it’s fun to watch him now and be happy for him in this moment. There aren’t many better feelings than winning a playoff game and feeling good about how you’re playing – he deserves it, the whole team deserves it.”
The way Jones led his team past the Vikings was revealing.
“I can only say good things about his style of play [Sunday] just from the decision making, accuracy, tenacity, running the ball just to see he has a great sense of the game plan, offense, when to pass it, when to read it to that zone and so on,” Manning said. “Just his great control of the game throughout the game and he did everything right to put them in a great position to win the game.”
Jones — 708 yards and seven TDs this season — has emerged as a dangerous double threat.
“He is fast. He’s one of those guys, he gets his hands on the ball, he gets that top speed, he gets first downs,” Manning said. “A lot of it is just making good decisions. I have never been able to do these readings and what he reads and what his keys are. But obviously if he pulls it he’s not getting 2 yards, he’s going to get 10 yards or 12 yards or more. So obviously they have good plans and understand when to draw it, when else to give it to Saquon [Barkley].”
Manning defeated the Buccaneers in Tampa for his first playoff win en route to Dallas, then Green Bay, and then Super Bowl XLII MVP.
“Even the game before the game against the Patriots where we played well and scored a lot of points [38-35 loss] just gave us some confidence,” Manning said. “You can call a more aggressive game if your players make good decisions.”
Manning and these Tom Coughlin Giants did it their way. Jones and these Daboll Giants go their own way.
“I think they’re just finding ways to win,” Manning said. “Looks like everyone is doing what is necessary. When guys come into play, they value that opportunity, whether it’s blocking, whether it’s getting on routes, playing their part, doing their job. Nobody says “I want more touches” or “I want more looks”. Everyone plays together, they outplay each other. Both sides of the ball strengthen in crucial moments of the games.”
Now it’s going to be Giants Against The World, with Eagles fans spitting venom at them.
“It doesn’t matter in the game,” Manning said. “It is what it is, but once you’re on the field your focus is on the game, on the players and just going out there and understanding the game plan and trying to execute it.”
Some players enjoy being the bad guy.
“It doesn’t take much to catch fire,” Manning said. “You can be happy and know that there will be a lot of energy in the stadium, and that’s a good thing.”
Can Daniel Jones lead these Giants to the Super Bowl and win it? (As a road warrior, just like Manning’s 2007 Giants).
“Hey, let’s see about getting through Philly,” Manning said.
Can he win this week?
“Sure,” Manning said, “but he has to play well and everyone has to play well.”
Manning won his Super Bowl in his fourth season. This is the fourth season of Daniel Jones. Shock the world and be elite, kid.