And just like that, a star is born.
Daniel Jones became the talk of pro football on Sunday after leading the Giants back from an 18-point deficit to pick up the organization’s first win of 2019 in his first-ever NFL start.
The rookie out of Duke was stellar in his first audition taking the reins from Eli Manning and was able to do so without the Giants’ best offensive player, running back Saquon Barkley, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in the second quarter.
What was doom-and-gloom heading into halftime of Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been transformed into cautious optimism as the Giants just might have their next franchise quarterback.
Here are two things we took away from Big Blue’s big-time 32-31 victory on Sunday:
A new Golden Boy
Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur are probably cracking up at the multitude of analysts and fans alike that bashed the selection of Jones at No. 6 overall back in April.
Everyone thought it was too early to take him, and of course, it still could very well be. But the early returns suggest that Jones is living up to the hype built by the Giants GM and head coach.
Jones faced an active Buccaneers defense that threw tons of pressure in his face to supplement a pass defense that allowed the third-lowest completion percentage to quarterbacks over the first two weeks of the season and he ripped them apart.
The 22-year-old completed 23-of-36 passes (63.8-percent) for 336 yards, two passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns.
He showed poise in the face of relentless pressure from a Buccaneers pass rush that was making mincemeat out of the Giants offensive line; specifically Nate Solder.
The veteran tackle was overpowered by Tampa Bay’s Shaq Barrett, who recorded four of his team’s five sacks on the day. Two of those sacks resulted in fumbles lost by Jones, which were the only blemishes of his day.
And still, Jones made the throws he had to while knowing when it was time to tuck it and run.
His reads were perfect as his athleticism added a new dimension to a Giants offense that was stagnant under Manning.
Don’t believe me? Just look at what Hall-of-Fame quarterback and former Giant Kurt Warner had to say:
“We all know Daniel Jones got his first win today in dramatic fashion and that excites every Giants fan,” he wrote on Twitter. “But maybe more exciting after watching tape, I thought his game was one of the cleanest of any starting QB this year — in terms of making correct reads/throws… and it was his first start!”
Had it not been for Matt Gay’s missed field goal as time expired, we would be praising Jones’ first start in a loss.
The Giants defense once again was a liability in Week 3 as they made the inconsistent Jameis Winston look like Johnny Unitas.
Over his first two outings of the season, the Buccaneers quarterback completed just 59-percent of his passes while averaging 201 yards per game.
Against the Giants, he went off going 23-of-37 (62.1-percent) for 380 yards and three touchdowns.
He and No. 1 receiver Mike Evans continuously toasted Giants No. 1 cornerback Janoris Jenkins, especially in the first half.
Over the first 30 minutes of action, Evans burned Jenkins for six catches, 131 yards, and three touchdowns as the Bucs flew out to a 28-10 lead.
While the Giants defense stiffened up at times during the second half, Jenkins was burned when it mattered most — allowing a 44-yard reception to Evans with less than a minute to go.
It put the Buccaneers deep into Giants territory and set them up for the potential game-winning field goal.
If Gay hits that field goal, Jenkins is the villain of the Giants fan base this week.