For the first three years of his career, the Wednesday after the end of the regular season has been when Giants quarterback Daniel Jones would be prepping for the offseason, but things are a little different for Jones this time.
Jones will get his first playoff start on Sunday when the Giants travel to Minnesota to battle the Vikings in the Wild Card Round of the NFC Playoffs. The fourth-year quarterback is looking forward to the opportunity and is happy to be preparing for a playoff game.
“I think it means a lot to all of us – a lot of guys who have been here these past few years,” Jones said Wednesday about preparing for the playoffs. “And to be on the other side of it, it means a lot. It’s about what we do now, from this point on, and how we handle this opportunity, how we prepare, and ultimately how we play how we execute on Sunday. We’re certainly happy we are where we are. But there’s a lot more. We got to do a lot more work left for us.”
The 25-year-old Jones can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, so a playoff win could earn him some more money in the offseason, and while he’s never been to the playoffs, Jones knows what’s at stake. It’s win or go home.
“I think everyone understands where we are now,” he said. “We’re in the playoffs. We’re past the regular season. The games mean more from the sense that you lose; you go home. So, people understand that. They understand what’s at stake. But the only way we’re going to play as well as we want to play is to prepare how we have all year, to trust our process, and stick to that. So, that’s largely been the conversation amongst the guys.”
The first three seasons for Jones were not pretty. He struggled with turnovers, and New York lost ten or more games in each of those seasons, but through all the struggles, Jones knew things would turn around for New York.
“I think I was always confident this would happen, and we would have this chance, largely because the guys we have in the locker room, the type of guys they are, and how close we are as a group,” he said. “We had some tough years, but I think we learned a lot. That’s helped us get to where we are now. I think (I’ve) just always been confident in the group, the type of guys that we have, and ultimately that that would lead to success.”
Not many people expected the Giants to make the playoffs, so to some, the season is a success, and New York should be satisfied to just to make the postseason, but like his teammates, Jones wants more.
“I think we’re definitely not satisfied just to have made the playoffs,” he said. “That’s not how we see it as a group. We were confident in our team dating back to training camp and knew what we were able to accomplish. We’re by no means satisfied just to be in the playoffs. We expect to play well and to win. And that’s our expectation every week; that doesn’t change this week.”
The Giants have defied the odds to this point, so maybe they will keep defying the odds this week and beyond.