The New York Giants 2022 training camp is here and officially under way.
The Giants’ rookies arrived last week and veterans reported on the 26th. The team went through their first practice on Wednesday.
There are a lot of moving pieces in Giants’ camp. A new front office is starting the process of evaluating players with whom they might not be terribly familiar. A new coaching staff is in the process of installing a new offense and defense, and the roster is in the process of learning those schemes.
But even with everything going on, all eyes are on quarterback Daniel Jones as he enters his fourth year in the NFL.
Much ink and many pixels have been spilled over the stakes regarding Jones’ performance this season. We don’t need to go back over Jones’ situation as he enters the 2022 season. While Jones has his work cut out for him over the coming months, right now his job can be summed up with two things: Learn the new offense, and build continuity with his teammates.
Installing the offense
Excitement is in the air — players are back on the field and there’s real football news coming across the wire — but the Giants are still early in their process of getting ready for the regular season. After all, this is only the first day of practice and players don’t even have their uppers on yet.
The goal right now is to install the meat of the offense and build on what the team did during OTAs.
There isn’t much time, the season starts in a little over a month, and the stakes are high. The Giants have one season to make their decision on whether Jones is their long-term answer at quarterback.
But despite the pressure, they aren’t rushing that decision. They want, and need, to give Jones the time to learn and grow in the offense.
“Listen, we’re just – we’ve been around Daniel for – what were we on the grass for? Six weeks, you know, in the spring? There’s a lot to learn from the offensive standpoint and you know the ability to execute the offense,” said GM Joe Schoen. “And again, I think continuity is important. And to have him out there with some of the guys that weren’t out there in the spring is important. Again, it’s just getting better each day. That’s what training camp is about. Install the offense. Daniel’s still got a lot to learn from a scheme standpoint. And our offense has done a tremendous job working to learn it. And we look forward to seeing him getting better each day.“
As Jones is the Giants’ starting quarterback, he has the most work to do learning the offense. Head Coach Brian Daboll made it clear that these practices are a process of making mistakes and learning from them
“It’s really with every player,” Daboll said. “You do that no matter who it is training camp wise. You teach, you go out there and they have to perform, and then you evaluate. And then you teach and correct and then they go perform and then you evaluate. I’d say, everything will be evaluated for how we practice to not just Daniel but with everybody. But certainly, I know it’s the quarterback, and it’s an important position. But that’s what we’ll do. We’ll teach him, and let him go out there and play. There’s mistakes in every practice, and there’s mistakes in every game, and you keep a cool, calm head. You correct him, and you let him go out there and do it again.”
“I think we’ll watch the film, and there will be things to correct, but we got into the end zone a few times, and I thought we were clean operationally in and out of the huddle. Guys knew where to go, where to line up. I thought that part of it was clean, which is a big emphasis on the first day when you’re out there and I thought it was good. Obviously, there will be things to clean up, but overall, I thought it was pretty good.”
Overall, Jones is optimistic regarding what this offense can offer him as a quarterback.
He said, “I think it gives the quarterback a lot of freedom to take advantage of certain looks to make checks and get the ball to certain guys. I think it keeps the quarterback moving in the run game and the passing game. So, it kind of plays to that also. I think it’s just a very versatile offense that puts guys in a lot of different spots, disguises things, reveals defense, and that’s all helpful for the quarterback.”
As Ed noted in his practice report, this offense uses much more motion and different looks from the conservative offenses we’re used to seeing from the Giants. Of course, those motions need reps between players to get right and execute without drawing a penalty.
“I think it takes everyone knowing what to do, where to line up,” Jones said. “Like I said in and out of the huddle clean, knowing where to go, so you’re able to snap the ball and still put pressure on the defense, you’re not getting late on the clock every play. Today you know I thought we did that well. Obviously, it’ll get more and more complicated as we go, and we add things with different personnel groups and different motions and shifts. But, as far as a start goes, I thought we did okay.“
As Jones and Daboll alluded to in their remarks, one of the most important tasks ahead of the team is building chemistry and continuity. Between a ton of roster turnover and injuries, the Giants have struggled to build any kind of continuity over the last decade or so.
The kind of continuity this team needs isn’t just going to happen immediately. It will take time and reps, and it will also need players staying healthy and on the field together.
Schoen was honest about where his team is.
“We’re just in day one here. Again, there’s a lot from a continuity standpoint. Getting (wide receiver Kenny) Golladay and KT (wide receiver Kadarius Toney), getting back out there. We’ll see where (wide receiver Sterling) Shepard is here over the next couple of weeks,” he said. “Right now, it’s just about building continuity with the guys. You know we missed some reps in the spring. Really just coming out and executing the offense is what we’re looking to do. You know getting better each day. And that goes for the entire (quarterback) position group, Tyrod (Taylor) and Davis Webb as well.”
Injuries have, of course, plagued the Giants. There were concerns throughout the spring that the injury problem would persist into 2022, particularly in light of the many players who sat out practices or were forced to wear red jerseys in OTAs. Schoen and Daboll assured fans that they were simply being cautious with players, and that caution seems to have paid off. The Giants had no players in red non-contact jerseys for their first practice, a fact that wasn’t lost on Jones.
“It takes these practice reps and building chemistry with these guys. You know the guys that were down a little bit in the spring did a great job in meetings, preparing themselves. You can tell they’ve spent time in their playbooks over the summer and they’re ready to go,” Jones said. “So, it’s exciting to have them on the field and in a spot where they can hop right in and get going. So, there will be a process to actually playing and getting the live reps, correcting things and improving, but it’s good to have everybody out there.”
As excited as Jones is to see almost all of his teammates on the practice field with him, players like Andrew Thomas, Kadarius Toney, Daniel Bellinger, or Azeez Ojulari aren’t the only injury concern. Perhaps the biggest injury concern for the Giants is Jones himself. Jones has dealt with a significant injury in each of his last four years (going back to a fractured collar bone at Duke). It’s tough for a starting quarterback to build continuity with his teammates if he’s on the sideline with an injury.
Part of Jones’ problem is that his ability as a runner is a fundamental part of his game. It allows the Giants to simplify the defense or make them pay for turning their back to the quarterback. But vacating the protection of the pocket and declaring himself a runner opens Jones up to a new set of risks.
Head coach Brian Daboll was honest about the advantages of an athletic quarterback, as well as the need to be smart and limit risks.
“When you have an athletic quarterback that can move and make plays, whether it’s loose plays or designed plays, you want to try to take advantage of it because it evens up the playing field with the defense,” he said. “And you’re constantly coaching and teaching when to slide and when to get down and when to do it. And I think it’s definitely an advantage when [you] have a quarterback that can move and do those type of things, so I’d say we’ll implement some things that utilize his skillset. And then we’ll coach him up and make sure that he is doing the best he can do to protect himself. But he’s going to have to do that as well.”
Jones agreed with the need to be smarter as a runner, though he was a bit reserved in his promise to take better care of his health.
“I think making sure I am smart about when to try to get the extra yard and when to get down. I think those are situations I continue to look at and try to improve on. Other than that I think my body has held up well, besides some of those decisions I could be smarter with, and avoid some of those situations. So, I’ll continue to look at that and try to prevent those situations from happening.“