Eli Manning knew it had to be a little uncomfortable to be Daniel Jones in 2019.
A first-round pick of the Giants and the anointed successor to Manning, the khakis-and-backpack-wearing Jones was tasked with learning how to exist and attempt to succeed in the high-pressure New York market, while also processing the ins and outs of quarterbacking in the NFL. All the while, Giants fans called for him to replace Manning — the longtime face of the franchise who happened to be in the same meeting room as Jones every day.
Imagine working closely with your manager for an entire year while all of your coworkers spend their lunch breaks loudly talking about how they feel it’s time you replace your manager and send him off to the pastures of retirement. While all of this is going on, your best source of advice and direction is your manager. Oh, and the executive level of your company is on the verge of being fired — to ensure that you, the new addition, are set up as perfectly as possible to one day run this place.
This is where Jones — a talented quarterback with the off-field appearance of a sophomore mathematics major — found himself.
Manning believes now Jones is well-positioned to take the reins, thanks in part to Manning’s acceptance of AARP and pension withdrawals. The "world’s best boss" mug now belongs to the young gun.
"I think it will be easier this year for him to kinda step up as that leader,” Manning said Monday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "Last year was probably awkward for him, me being there, me being in meeting rooms and just kinda the whole dynamic. Me being gone and hey, he is the quarterback, he is the guy, for him to have that control and the authority over receivers and offensive line.
"I think he’s proven to be tough and works hard, he’s done all the right things, he has gone in with that approach of keeping his head down and not saying more than he has to, working hard and earning the respect from the teammates. Now he can elevate that where now he’s in charge. The questions are coming to him from the coordinator, he’s gonna have to give his voice and his opinion on things.”
Being the guy should help Jones plenty. After all, when you’re the chosen leader, it doesn’t give much wiggle room for dispute. There’s no viable Plan B lurking behind you while the glint of two Super Bowl rings catches the corner of your eye.
"He’s got to learn a new offense, and get total control of that and earn the respect of a new coaching staff,” Manning said of Jones. "I think he’ll do a great job. They’ll figure out how to play and how to win football games in the NFL, the style, and I think he’s got the respect of the team and he’ll go out there and have a great year.”
Manning had the luxury of just one coach (Tom Coughlin) for the majority of his career, which included two victories on football’s grandest stage. Jones is already on coach No. 2, and with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic making things unusual in the 2020 offseason, he has an extra challenge in attempting to learn new coach Joe Judge’s offense.
That’s not to say it can’t be done, though. After all, Jones is the guy now. He doesn’t have to fret about a camp competition; he just needs to arrive to camp with a full grasp of the offense with which he’s being entrusted.
Without Manning existing as the face of the Giants’ glory days, Jones can proceed forward. We’ll see if that takes him to similarly great heights.
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