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Daniel Jones out to prove he’s not the chink in the New York Giants’ armor

In the midst of a contract season, Daniel Jones has his New York Giants at a shocking 5-1 through six games. New York is coming off a 24-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens in a game that Jones actually outplayed former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. Imagine reading that sentence just three weeks ago.

Despite all of this, there’s a narrative that Jones is New York’s Achilles’ heel. He could be the reason that this start to the season is nothing more than fool’s gold.

Here at Sportsnaut, we value New York as the sixth-best team in the NFL heading into their Week 7 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That’s about where they stand with other outlets following suit.

The question here is whether New York can be considered a legitimate conference title contender in an NFC that is seemingly the Philadelphia Eagles and everyone else. A lot of this will depend on our stance regarding Jones after he failed to prove himself worthy of being seen as a starter-caliber quarterback throughout his first three NFL seasons.

Despite these early-career struggles, Jones seems to be enjoying himself under new head coach Brian Daboll. It helps that the Giants are winning, too.

“I don’t know. It’s been a while, for sure. But [there’s] a lot we’ve still got to do to improve and work on and that’s what we’re going to focus on doing. Certainly, more fun to win.”

Daniel Jones on last time he enjoyed football so much, via the Giants’ official website

New York has a favorable schedule with four consecutive games against teams that are either .500 or boast a losing record. They also have a Week 9 bye mixed in. Is Jones now ready to turn the corner and prove that he can help make this engine purr?

Related: Daniel Jones and the top-20 NFL QBs of 2022

Daniel Jones and the Saquon Barkley equation

new york giants qb daniel jones
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Right or wrong, a narrative exists that it’s Barkley’s world in Jersey with Jones merely riding his coattails. Also in a contract year, the former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has returned to earlier-career form. He looks every bit the part of an NFL MVP candidate through six weeks. That’s not even up for debate.

  • Saquon Barkley stats (2022): 616 rushing yards, 21 receptions, 155 receiving yards, 771 total yards, 5.5 yards per touch, 4 TD

Barkley leads the league in rush attempts, touches and total yards from scrimmage. He’s put up north of 100 total yards in four of six games this season, accumulating more than 85 total yards in the other two outings. It’s been simply sensational to watch Barkley return from his injury-plagued ways to dominate opposing defenses once again.

Related: New York Giants schedule and game-by-game predictions

Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley can complement one another

daniel jones, saquon barkley, new york giants
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

It shouldn’t be an either/or question here. Why can’t it be both? That is to say, Jones and Barkley working together to lead a Giants offense that is vastly improved from a season ago. How much so? New York heads into Week 7 averaging nearly a touchdown more per game than in 2021. A lot of that has to do with Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. But these two players should be given credit, too.

“Daniel has done a good job with the ball. He’s doing all the right things that we’re asking him to do, putting his eyes in the right spot. I think he’s making quick decisions and I know (quarterback) coach (Shea) Tierney is really, he’s really doing a great job with him since really the spring of emphasizing that with not just Daniel but all the quarterbacks.”

Mike Kafka on Jones’ performance thus far this season

That’s where the success comes from. Jones’ ability to avoid the turnovers that defined his earlier-career performance sets up the Giants to run the ball. Without those turnovers, Barkley is able to wear down the defense and do his thing on the ground. Last week’s win over the Ravens was a prime example of this with Barkley touching the ball 15 times in the second half despite New York trailing 10-7 through 30 minutes.

Related: New York Giants grow reputation as late-game beasts in 24-20 win over Baltimore Ravens

Daniel Jones and the clutch gene

new york giants daniel jones
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Again, a sentence that seemed unfathomable just weeks ago. But it’s in the facts. New York has trailed or been tied in the fourth quarter in all but one game thus far this season.

New York has outscored its opponents 87-49 in the second half during this span after being outscored by a combined 24 points in the first 30 minutes. In the fourth quarter alone, the Giants have scored 48 points compared to 22 for their opponents. Jones has been the common denominator here.

  • Daniel Jones stats (first half): 66% completion, 489 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 85.9 QB rating
  • Daniel Jones stats (second half): 68% completion, 532 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT

One of those second-half interceptions came back in Week 1. Daboll absolutely laid into Jones on the sideline after the quarterback threw an ugly fourth-quarter pick against the Tennessee Titans. It came with New York down 20-13 and vying for a touchdown to tie the game.

Jones responded by leading the Giants on a 73-yard scoring drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown pass to Chris Myarick, pulling the Giants to within one point. Showing that he had trust in this unit, Daboll went for two and the win. It was successful, helping immediately change the culture in Jersey.

There he was. Jones getting berated on the sideline by a new head coach after making a mistake that had defined his first three seasons in the NFL. His response showed that true grit of the still-embattled signal caller.

It’s now up to Jones to take this to a new level against the Jaguars on Sunday. If he’s able to do that, any narrative surrounding the former Duke standout being a chink in the New York Giants’ armor can be thrown out the window.