The goal for the New York Giants in 2019 was to have rookie QB Daniel Jones sit on the bench for the whole season, but when you are off to an 0-2 start, and your team has not played very well, things change.
On Tuesday, the Giants decided to bench Eli Manning and give Jones his first career start, as the Giants travel to Tampa Bay to battle the Buccaneers on Sunday.
Jones, 22, who was the sixth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, showed a lot of promise in the preseason, and now, hopefully, for the Giants, that will translate to the regular season.
Today, Jones addressed the media. Here is what he had to say:
Q: What was your reaction when you got the news you would be starting on Sunday?
Jones: I was excited. I think, certainly, I’m excited for the opportunity. Coach (Shurmur) called me up to his office and we had that conversation. Obviously it’s a unique circumstance, but I’m excited for the opportunity.
Q: Are you ready for the opportunity?
Jones: Yeah, I certainly feel good about how far I have come in my preparation and my progress since I got here in the spring, through camp and through these first couple weeks. We’ll try to make sure we have the best week we can, and I’ll certainly do all I can to be as prepared as possible. Yeah, I feel ready and I’m certainly looking forward to the opportunity.
Q: Being a starting quarterback entails a lot more than just calling the huddle and everything. Did you address the team? Did you talk to them and the offense at all today?
Jones: I didn’t, not as a group. I’ve certainly had a number of conversations. I think, like I said, our job is to focus on Tampa Bay to make sure we are as prepared as possible.
Q: What has it been like talking to Eli since the change happened?
Jones: Yesterday, when Coach Shurmur told me, and obviously Eli as well, we had a conversation. As you all would expect, as anyone who knows Eli would expect, he was nothing but supportive of me. Obviously, I understand the circumstance and it’s a difficult one. But he’s very supportive of me and I can’t say enough about who he is as a person, as a teammate, and he’s been that way since I’ve gotten here. We had that conversation and then we went about our Tuesday preparing and watching film like we have the first two weeks. I’m certainly very grateful and appreciative of his support since I’ve gotten here.
Q: Just to clarify, you had a conversation with Eli and Coach? Or separately with Coach and then he had a separate conversation with Eli?
Jones: Separately. They were all separate.
Q: When did you assume you’d play?
Jones You never really know when something like this is going to happen. My job is to be ready and to continue to improve. I feel like I have been able to do that. Like I said, you don’t know when something like this is going to happen. I can’t control that. I was just trying to be prepared, and I will continue to prepare the same way this week.
Q: Did Eli offer you any advice?
Jones: Through the week, and his help through the preparation, is certainly very valuable to me. In terms of general advice, I think his support and his confidence in me gives me the confidence (that I need).
Q: What tells you that you will be ready?
Jones: I haven’t played a regular season game, and I’m certainly aware of that. All I can do is prepare as hard as I possibly can, and that’s what I’ll do. I think I’ve gotten some sense of that in the preseason and certainly it will be elevated during the regular season. All I can do this week is make sure I’m prepared, the team is prepared, and I do all I possibly can.
Q: The responsibility of being the starting quarterback for the New York Giants— do you look at that in anyway as somewhat daunting? Or do you feel you’re ready to embrace it?
Jones: I feel like I’m ready to embrace it. I think focusing on what we’re doing here, focusing on what we’re doing in the building and our preparation with my teammates, with my coaches. Narrowing that focus to being here in the moment in this week, I think, is important with that. I feel like I can embrace that, and I am looking forward to the opportunity.
Q: Part of the reason the Giants drafted you is because they thought you could handle this moment, and the pressure that comes with playing, failing, trying to bounce back, in the New York market with a restless fanbase. As you observed that from the sideline the past couple of games, and how it goes in this market, what do you make of it and how do you feel like you’re going to be able to handle the ups and downs?
Jones: I think a similar approach to Bruce’s question— just focusing on what we’re doing, focusing on football, on our preparation, on our weekly plan. (Being) here in the building with my teammates, my coaches, everybody in the building part of this organization, I think is what will be key to my success with that. I understand the responsibility, I understand the challenge, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.
Q: All rookie quarterbacks have to start somewhere. You’re starting with Eli Manning in the locker next to you. You know what that means about replacing him. Is it a line you have to tread? You should be thrilled for yourself and your preparation and getting ready to start. Then you have Eli, who was just benched after 16 years. Is that a juggling act for you a little bit?
Jones: Since I’ve gotten here, Eli has been nothing but helpful and welcoming to me. Obviously, now the roles are different. There will be some differences there. But largely, our relationship and how we communicate will be the same. He’s done it for a long time at a really high level, so there is certainly a ton I can continue to learn from him and will. I think that’s a tremendous opportunity for me.
Q: You haven’t had a whole lot of snaps with the first team offense since the season started. A couple of your teammates said the way they can help you is to make sure the communication is sharp. How do you expedite that today and up until your first snap, to get that as perfect as possible?
Jones: It starts in the meeting room. Before we get out on the practice field, knowing what we need to do. Knowing what to expect from them and them knowing what to expect from me. Communication is certainly key for that.
Q: Your skillset is obviously different than Eli’s. We’ve talked about your ability to run and the way you throw the deep ball. How different do you expect the offense to look? How much would you like to make it conducive to what your skills are?
Jones: I’m not sure the offense will change substantially. I think it’ll be what we do, it’ll be what we’ve (practiced) since the spring and what we’re used to. I don’t see it changing a whole lot. We’ve got a good system. We’ve got good players who are used to the system. I think it’ll stay pretty consistent.
Q: You watched two games that were losses that weren’t all about quarterback play. Entering the lineup now, where do you think you can help this team?
Jones: Through the first two weeks, like you said, there have been a number of issues. As a team, we all have to perform better. I think everyone’s on the same page there. My job is to come in and be prepared and know exactly what we need to do and execute that. Like I said, we have good players and good spots. My job is to execute the offense, to get the ball where it needs to go on time and accurately. I don’t think my role changes in that sense. Just to execute.
Q: What is your confidence level right now, and what would you say to Giants fans about what they can expect when they see you for the first time in a regular season game?
Jones: I’m confident. Like I said, I feel good about my progress to this point. I certainly understand there will be a lot to learn, and I look forward to that. To Giants fans, just know that I’ll compete as hard as I possibly can, prepare as hard as I possibly can, and when I’m out there, I’ll play as hard as I can and do what I can to help this team win games.
Q: When you came here, you talked about earning the respect of your teammates. You understood what you were coming here for. The fact that it sounds like you did earn that respect from your locker room, did it make yesterday’s news and today walking out on the practice field feel any different? The idea that you don’t have to earn the respect of these guys, that they already see you as someone who can take over this role?