By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
Quick Quiz: Who was the Giants’ quarterback before Eli Manning?
Giants’ diehards will rattle off Kurt Warner in a few seconds, while others may take a little longer or draw a blank.
After both Phil Simms and Jeff Hostetler had their much heralded runs in the late 80s and early 90s, Kerry Collins had an underrated four-year call, and Dave Brown, Danny Kanell, Jesse Palmer, and Kent Graham had their quarterback stints since 1980.
Over the past 40 years, Simms and Manning –arguably Hostetler — are the Giants’ quarterback version of Mount Rushmore.
Manning’s stoic 15-year run built his iconic status in Giants’ lore and in the league. Yes, Manning had his off years, but little questioned his stability and steadiness. His homespun innocence kept everything in perspective.
With those same qualities in tow, it’s time to officially pass the torch to Daniel Jones this September.
It could eventually lead to thinking about adding another figure to the Giants’ quarterback mount in the future.
Jones got the green light over Manning when it was appropriate in Game Three last season, and kept his cool in a 24-touchdown, 12 –interception, 3,024-yard season. He did have a five –touchdown effort in a loss to Washington and a pair of four-touchdown showings in losses against Detroit and the Jets.
There were enough times last season when Jones showed the moxey and grit GM Dave Gettleman and the hierarchy envisioned about him as the team constantly searched to find its footing. Despite that, Jones proved to mature through the weeks.
The 23-yead-old controversial sixth overall pick lived through former head coach Pat Shurmur’s offense as well as tribulations and adjusted accordingly. He also endured 38 sacks in the process.
Manning found himself in a similar situation his first year, but he only had nine games under his belt and had nine interceptions. He plodded through his second year with 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Yet, the die for Jones has been cast as the Giants’ long-range signal caller. The shadow of Manning in the backdrop is long gone.
To his credit, Jones was near the top of the rookie class last season, arguably in line for the lead role with Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew, Arizona’s Kyle Murray, and Washington’s Dwayne Haskins, all of whom had some similar and different issues and landscapes.
He’ll be handed the keys this fall with new coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, a three-way relationship the Giants need to nurture for a while.
Jones will have the benefit of a healthy and rejuvenated Saquon Barkley in the backfield and Evan Engram at tight end and in the slot. Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton round out a potential potent mix. Jones took the initiative to hold offseason workouts in Texas with the contingent that will further solidify the chemistry.
His moves are paying dividends and his talents are obvious in spite of not having a typical mini-camp and offseason.
“I watched the tape, and as far as working with him as a player, he’s had a really productive, really good spring,” said Judge in a recent ESPN interview. “He’s really taken a leadership role, which is good to see.”
It all now falls into Jones’ lap with the start of camp next week (July 28).
He has had the experience, has a new coach who likes his style, a new offensive coordinator who can tailor his needs, and an offensive arsenal with several options if they all stay healthy.
It shouldn’t be a year measured strictly if the team can surpass their four wins from last year, but instead on how Jones matures into the season’s latter months.
A new Giants’ quarterback era can be formally ushered in the coming weeks, and Jones is on the precipice of beginning his own long stay at the controls.