New York Giants coach Brian Daboll doesn’t want Daniel Jones holding back. Instead, he’s promoting a more aggressive approach that encourages his new quarterback to get out on the field and sling the ball around without hesitation or fear of a mistake.
Especially in practice.
“Yeah, look, we want to make sure we protect the ball,” Daboll said before the Giants’ third on-field OTA practice on Thursday afternoon. “But again, you can’t go out there and play afraid. Be smart, not reckless, if you will. If he’s got a shot on the right read, let it go.
“There’s going to be things that happen in every game. The defense is going to make a good play, there might be a tipped ball. We’re going to have to do a good job of taking care of the football, but I want him to turn it loose.”
It’s a change from the past couple years, when Jones was working tirelessly on eliminating turnovers. That seemed to breed a more conservative approach with fewer turnovers, specifically interceptions. Jones threw 17 interceptions the past two seasons, tied for 20th in the NFL.
Josh Allen, who had Daboll as his offensive coordinator in Buffalo, threw 25 interceptions during that same span, tied for second-most among all quarterbacks. Allen also threw 75 touchdown passes and was an MVP candidate both seasons.
“The facts were we were turning the ball over a lot. I was turning the ball over a lot,” said Jones, who has 49 total turnovers since entering the league in 2019, tied for third-most in the NFL. “But I don’t know. I think as a quarterback you have to be able to do both — you have to be aggressive, take shots, but also protect the ball. It’s finding the balance there and the best guys can do that. So I’m always working to improve that piece of the decision-making process and being smart.”
Daboll, in his first offseason as a head coach, isn’t trying to reprogram his quarterback completely. He’s just looking to find a suitable middle ground that includes some of the aggressiveness that Jones showed in his first professional season under coach Pat Shurmur and the more responsible version that existed the past two years under playcallers Jason Garrett and Freddie Kitchens.
It’s beginning at practices this spring. Jones threw one pass deep down the middle of the field at Thursday’s workout. It was intercepted by safety Julian Love.
“Yeah, you never want to throw interceptions,” Jones said. “But just the idea to be aggressive. Take your shots. Make something happen. Let the receivers know we’re going to do that. We’re going to give you all opportunities to make plays and we’re counting on you to make plays in situations. I think that is kind of a mindset he has to attack a defense, attack downfield. And as a quarterback and decision-maker, you’re a big part of that. That’s something we talked about and he wants to see at practice.”
Jones isn’t making too much out of it though. He insists it’s not in stark contrast to what he did under Shurmur or Garrett and Kitchens.
“It’s not like a hard change in mindset. A lot of it is just understanding plays, understanding situations, understanding philosophies on when to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive. I think those are all specific to certain situations,” Jones said. “I don’t think it’s a big overarching mindset you apply aimless every play. I think it’s specific to what the play is trying to do, what the coverage is doing and understanding that piece.”
But the hope is that perhaps it will yield some better results.