They go hand-in-hand — and not just on the snap at the beginning of each play.
If the squandered end of Eli Manning’s career proved anything, it’s that even Hall of Fame-caliber quarterbacks need a good offensive line to thrive. A quarterback with a fast internal clock can be the protection’s best friend, too.
So, the potentially explosive Giants offense only will go as far in 2020 as quarterback Daniel Jones and the offensive line go — and general manager Dave Gettleman is upbeat about both with the season opener just 11 days away.
“I’m comfortable and confident with [Jones] right now,” Gettleman said. “The only thing that was a little frustrating last year were the turnovers, the fumbles. He had a solid rookie year. He did things that no other rookie quarterback has ever done. For some reason, I just feel like the fumbles have overshadowed all of that stuff.”
Here is Jones’ mixed bag: an NFL-high 18 fumbles (11 lost), but the first rookie quarterback in history with three games of four or more touchdown passes and zero interceptions. The Giants went 1-2 in those games and 3-9 during his 12 starts.
“He showed he can bring us from behind to win a game,” Gettleman said. “He showed he can make big throws in an overtime period. This kid accomplished a lot last year. I would never put a win-loss thing on it. For me, it’s all about Daniel improving in all areas, which I’m confident he will.”
Jones is learning a new offense after a coaching change, which could delay the big leaps good quarterbacks tend to make between their first and second seasons.
“We all know Daniel is going to work his tail off,” Gettleman said. “That’s not an issue. He’s picking it up. Everybody needs to remember … how many of them are great immediately? It takes them all time. Unfortunately, we’re not patient. But Daniel is going to be fine. He’s going to be a fine NFL quarterback.”
To speed up the process, the Giants invested three 2020 draft picks in their offensive line.
The five projected starters — rookie Andrew Thomas, Will Hernandez, Nick Gates, Kevin Zeitler and Cam Fleming — all are Gettleman acquisitions, and former starters Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley plus rookies Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux provide depth. Five of those nine linemen are 25 or younger.
Even with left tackle Nate Solder’s preseason opt-out decision for COVID-19 health concerns, Gettleman, who prioritized rebuilding the offensive line on his first day on the job in December 2017, predicts this is “the closest we’ve been.”
The Giants ranked No. 20 and No. 23 in sacks allowed the past two seasons.
“I feel like we’ve got the right guys. They just have to learn how to play together,” Gettleman said. “They have to grow up. We have puppies. You have Andrew, who has never played an NFL snap, at an important position. Talent-wise, I’m really pleased with the room.”