Grading the performance of rookie QB Daniel Jones in debut for the Giants
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Grading the performance of rookie QB Daniel Jones in debut for the Giants

Daniel Jones, Giants

New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones made his first career NFL start on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and man were there fireworks.

Jones completed 23 of his 36 passes for 336 yards and a couple of touchdowns while also carrying the ball four times for 28 yards and a pair of scores, including what proved to be the game-winning rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

The one blemish on Jones’ afternoon was that he lost two fumbles, which seems like it could be a problem for Jones moving forward.

Remember: ball security was an issue for Jones during the preseason, and during his brief regular-season debut against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, he fumbled.

But outside of that, Jones was brilliant in his first start.

The most impressive part of Jones’ performance was his poise. The Giants were down by 18 points on the road, but Jones kept his composure and methodically led New York back, making throw after throw and showing no fear in stepping up in the pocket against what was a fierce Buccaneers pass rush led by Shaq Barrett.

It’s no secret that the Giants don’t exactly have a stout offensive line, so Jones stepping up in the pocket and showing conviction in his decision-making at this early stage of his career was certainly eye-opening, and his ability to move around and avoid trouble was also significant.

He reminded me of Eli Manning during Manning’s birth as the Giants’ starter. The most notable thing about Manning (outside of his cannon for an arm) in his rookie year was the fact that nothing seemed to bother him. He took some vicious hits over his first few games, but he popped right back up and showed no qualms about hanging in the pocket again.

And that is what separates the great quarterbacks from the good ones.

It’s not arm strength or accuracy or even the ability to read defenses; it’s guts, toughness and keeping your wits about you no matter what the circumstances are.

Don’t get me wrong: all of those other qualities are imperative, but they aren’t what make a quarterback great. They only make him talented.

For Jones to lead the Giants back from such a large deficit and embark on an Eli-like eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended in an un-Eli-like seven-yard rushing touchdown on fourth-and-5 for the winning score in your debut is extraordinary.

Had it not been for the fumbles, Jones would get a perfect A-plus here, but I’m giving him an A. He needs to work on his ball security. It might be okay for now, but it will become an issue moving forward if he doesn’t correct it.