He had 11 TD passes in 14 starts, the second fewest of any quarterback who started more than 12 games this season. Jones finished with 12 total touchdowns (one rushing) compared with 16 turnovers, and was 21st with a QBR of 61.4, which put him one spot behind Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (61.8).
It was hardly the perfect, promising season to erase all doubt about whether Jones is the answer at quarterback for the Giants. But that doesn't mean he won't get the opportunity to try again next season. He will. The Giants are confident the numbers don't tell the full story with the 2019 No. 6 overall pick. For that reason, they aren't going to be looking at the top quarterbacks available with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, or in NFL free agency.
The Giants remain happily married to Jones.
"We have complete confidence in him moving forward," Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said last week.
Coach Joe Judge and co-owner John Mara have the same conviction as Gettleman. And it doesn't appear to be lip service.
"I do share that [conviction]," Mara said.
Judge gave Jones, 23, a clean slate entering the season, telling him the Giants needed to see if he was the guy they could build around.
Judge left the 6-10 season admiring many of Jones' traits. He has raved about the way Jones handles the huddle, prepares away from the field, commands the offense, adjusts to game plans and shows toughness. The Giants coach is also encouraged by the improvement Jones made in 2020, specifically with his ball security. Jones lost only two fumbles in his final seven starts.
It reached the point where Judge felt inclined, the day after a 14-point Week 16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, to provide an unsolicited vote of confidence for his quarterback after being asked a question that didn't include Jones' name.
Every single TD from 2020 🙌 pic.twitter.com/jwuNs5qKuC— New York Giants (@Giants) January 12, 2021
"What are you really looking at with this team as you go forward? Well, I'll start with a key piece right there with Daniel," Judge said. "You always want to know about, 'Is Daniel our guy? Are we going forward with Daniel?' The answer is absolutely. What gives us that confidence is even in games like [vs. Baltimore] where it didn't come out perfectly, you can turn the tape on and you can say, 'Hey listen, in games one through whatever, that wasn't the guy we were looking at.'
"You watch the tape [vs. Baltimore] and you see that guy in there operating, executing, understanding the pressure and not just standing in there with courage like he's done all along and taken a hit, but understanding how to take the hit and deliver an accurate pass and move the sticks down the field. ... As we get going and we build more into this scheme, he'll be able to handle it in different ways as well and take some hits off himself. You see a lot of growth in these guys."
And so it stands. The Giants will add pieces around Jones and see where this goes. This might not have been the Year 2 anyone really wanted or expected, but there will be, at least, a third season with more weapons, including a healthy running back in Saquon Barkley, more "playmakers" Gettleman promised and an improved offensive line. Then they will see if it was the offense, quarterback, talent -- or, all the above -- that was the culprit for this season's second-lowest scoring offense.
Regardless, next season will be telling. If Jones doesn't do it in Year 3, it's probably not going to happen.
And it can't, again, be the behind-the-scenes stuff that draws the praise. It has to be the on-the-field stuff. The throws, the plays, the production and, dare we say, the touchdown passes and points without the turnovers. Jones must produce tangible results to prove he is a top-half-of-the-league or top-10 quarterback, because right now the rhetoric is based more on hope and excuse-making.
"Daniel, before he got hurt, was playing really well during that winning streak that we had," Mara said. "Then he got hurt, I think it was in Cincinnati, and then he wasn't quite the same for the next few weeks. I thought he played very well [in the Week 17 win against Dallas], and also played well in the Baltimore game.
"Our coaches, all of them, are very high on Daniel, and I feel the same way. I think he has what it takes to lead us to where we want to go."
The Giants are sold, but few others who have watched him play over his first two NFL seasons feel as certain. It's time for Jones to show those outside the building on 1925 Giants Drive the confidence in him is fully warranted.