New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has had very little in his NFL career — if anything at all — that resembles a honeymoon phase. From the time he was chosen with the No. 6-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the young quarterback of the Giants and the face of the team’s new generation has been a lightning rod for scrutiny and criticism, with such voices persisting into his third season.
In his young career, Jones has had to contend with a number of critical voices a decibel level louder and more persistent than any other young quarterback in football. And yet, rather than bristle or become defensive, Jones has dealt with being under the microscope by being oblivious to it. Which is something that also goes on behind closed doors.
During an appearance on the Talkin’ Giants podcast, Daniel Jones’ trainer Mickey Brueckner offered some insight into the way he handles the pressure of playing in New York when asked whether or not Jones is bothered by the demands of being the Giants’ quarterback and the criticism that comes with it.
“If it did, it wouldn’t show. He’s got pretty thick skin. He’s never complained to me once about it,” Brueckner said. “For him it’s always focused on ‘How can I get better?’ always getting better every day. He’s never had any negative things to say about the challenges that come with playing in New York, which there are many. He’s pretty good about it.”
Advocates for Jones, enthused by his poise and maturity as well as the glimpses of brilliance he has shown in his first two seasons, have yet to wrestle the narrative around him away from his doubters and naysayers, who point to the issues he has had limiting turnovers and a relatively pedestrian 2020 season where he threw just 11 touchdowns in one of the NFL’s worst offenses. In some ways, the discourse around Jones resembles that of his predecessor in Eli Manning, who had to combat similar naysayers before silencing all his critics with a victory in Super Bowl XLII.
Brueckner, as many who have compared the Giants’ latest two quarterbacks have done, drew a direct comparison between Jones and Manning.
“I think that’s what makes them able to do what they do. That there’s a unique personality and character trait that allows them to just tune all that stuff out,” Brueckner said. “… Nobody did that better than [Eli]. His headspace was only focusing on the task at hand.”
Not everything that kept Jones from taking the leap expected of him in 2020 was in his control: In addition to changing systems without the benefit of an offseason, Jones also had to deal with the loss of his best skill player [Saquon Barkley], injuries to others [Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton], and had to rely on the abilities of wide receivers like CJ Board and Austin Mack to beat coverage and make plays. Jones also dealt with hamstring and ankle injuries that forced him to miss two games and severely debilitated him in a third.
With Brueckner, Jones has been working on some of the things he can control as he seeks to capitalize on coaching continuity and a dramatically-improved corps of skill players. Jones has been working with Brueckner primarily on the biomechanics of his lower body in order to build continuity with his drops in the pocket, improve his ability to absorb and redistribute force, and build physical resiliency after last year’s injuries among other things.
While working to improve in private, Jones has continued to take a “water off a duck’s back” approach in public, stating during Giants OTAs that he did not feel any additional pressure to elevate the Giants’ offense with the new talent around him.
“It’s on all 11 guys to do their job every play. That’s how we’re going to make big plays, is everyone doing their job,” Jones said. “It’s not on any one person more than the other. It’s about everyone executing together as a unit. That’s how we’re going to create explosive plays, be a productive offense.”